Thursday, September 27, 2018

Mainland tour - Day 1: Arrival

Writing, as I have done now for most of the year, a REGULAR COLUMN in the Sunday Star-Times Escape section - World Famous in New Zealand, since you ask - I need a constant supply of material to fill it. Though it's possible to write from research only, obviously it's much better if I've actually been there, done that; so it's the perfect excuse to hit up the PR people i/c tourism around the country. Consequently, today I am setting out on what I would call a two-week fact-finding tour if that didn't sound altogether too serious. It's a junket!
So I flew from Auckland to Nelson, hired a car, and drove west to Collingwood, over Takaka Hill with its innumerable bends and corners, feeling very happy to be behind the wheel and not in the middle of the back seat, sliding miserably from one sister's hostile shoulder to the other, unsuccessfully fighting the relentlessly growing urge to throw up. Ah, family holidays! We detoured to Wainui Falls via an unexpected tunnel and a spectacularly rocky bit of coast, and I walked through the bush to the falls, along a wonderfully clear river pouring over marble rocks. It was very pretty, and I might have been impressed if I hadn't recently been to Iceland, which sets a high (ha!) standard for waterfalls. 
We spent the night at Zatori Retreat, a friendly and casually elegant lodge looking out towards Farewell Spit. So casual, in fact, that other guests were padding about the lounge in bare feet, there was a cat called Milo and a dog called Beau, chickens in the garden outside, and most of us ate together at a long table. The food was good, the chat was about cycling the Heaphy Track, there was a crackling fire, and outside it was dark and silent. Good start.

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