Cycling the South Island of NZ – Part 10 -Nelson to Picton/Wellington

Views from the cycle path heading west out of Nelson.
Views from the cycle path heading west out of Nelson.

The first 20 km from Nelson to Atawhai is a lovely ride along the Tasman Bay with most on a designated cycle road. From that point until Havelock, the road is hilly and windy with a narrow shoulder and a fair amount of trucks. En-route, we stopped at Rai Valley and devoured a fresh fruit ice cream. The owner of the campground in Havelock was not too friendly (maybe tired after a busy season) so we cycled on and found a beautiful motel with a mineral hot tub (nice and HOT).We also enjoyed a good home-cooked meal, and a great sleep.

We enjoyed scenes like this the entire ride along the Queen Charlotte Scenic Drive.
We enjoyed scenes like this the entire ride along the Queen Charlotte Scenic Drive.

On the following morning, ANZAC Day, we heard the bagpipes from the ANZAC parade and saw all the townspeople gathered around Memorial Hall. We cycled past and took a left onto Queen Charlotte Scenic Drive. We were about mid-way up the first hill when a couple we’d met near Mapua pulled over (They’d seen us cycling that morning) and gave us their contact information in Canberra, Australia, and invited us to stay with them.

View of the ferry 15 minutes before departure.
View of the ferry 15 minutes before departure.

Queen Charlotte Drive is lovely with very little traffic. We took lots of photos. As we were cycling downhill towards Picton we realized that we could probably make that day’s ferry to Wellington. We were the last people to get on the Interislander Ferry and patted ourselves on the back for our “good luck.” As it turns out, we probably would have been better to stay in Picton one night. It was ANZAC weekend plus a big cricket match so lodging in Wellington was scarce and expensive.

Sightseeing in Wellington
Sightseeing in Wellington