Tuesday 2 October 2018

Mainland tour, Day 6 - Picton Perfect

With thanks to NelsonTasman
The Grand Mercure in Nelson looks quite authentically English and is just across the road from the Honest Lawyer pub, so I would unhesitatingly recommend it to any homesick Pom if it were not for the fact that the lighting in the rooms is utter crap. Honestly, just dim ceiling lights, useless for reading by - even bringing the bedside lamp in wasn't a huge help. I did politely mention it to the receptionist at checkout, who was professionally concerned, but I bet nothing's been done. Not very Grand at all, Mercure.
Happily, the rest of the day was much more agreeable. The main activity took place at Cable Bay Adventure Park, to try out two of their half-dozen offerings. It's recently acquired a new owner, Richard, who is a five-times winner of the Coast-to-Coast, and is being upgraded with huge enthusiasm. 
First I tried the Skywire which Fletch, who operated it for me, described as "the world's longest flying fox- and also its slowest zipline" - it's a 300m-high cable slung across a valley, sure, but I sat in a ski-lift-type chair and glided quietly and very sedately above the trees and tree ferns, with ample opportunity to admire the view, look at my shadow below, and appreciate all the revegetation going on as pine forest is felled. It really was very pleasant and, with four side-by-side seats, would be an ideal family activity, no matter how young or old its members. Mind, the more weight there is, the faster it goes.
Then I was taken to meet Jessica, who mounted me on Melody, a nice stocky bay cob, and we rode along the valley and up the hill through the bush to a viewpoint out across the sea to the North Island (it was too fine a day for me to see Mt Taranaki - clear air means weather on the way). We had a cup of tea and a biscuit, fed a prowling weka, talked horses, and then rode back along a different route, splashing through a river and passing the torturous-looking equipment used for the obstacle course race they run. They also do quad bikes through the bush, paintball, archery and Argo adventures, so there's pretty much something for everyone.
Our multiple trips over Takaka Hill still didn't prepare us for the winding road to Picton, especially since we chose the Scenic Route from Havelock along Pelorus Sound - well-named, with Insta-worthy views at every bend, but there were so many of them! Not a road to rush, for sure. It was good to get away from all the ugly forestry, the bare hills and piles of slash, into proper bush alongside turquoise sea. And then we arrived at Picton, to stay at the Picton Yacht Club which is nice but not fancy.
I took a walk around, enjoying the peace (the first cruise ship of the season arrives tomorrow, so it wasn't going to last) and the sunny evening. We ate at the Thirsty Pig - my first whitebait fritter for a very long time, and cider. Yum!

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