Friday, February 22, 2008

February 16, 2008 - Nelson

Around noon on Saturday we rolled into Nelson, the big smoke along the north coast of the south island. The town was buzzing. Every hotel, motel, hostel and holiday park flashed a "No Vacancy" sign. "It is like Newport on the second weekend of August," Sten commented. We realized that showing up without reservations might have been a mistake. But no worries. Every reasonably sized New Zealand town, and some very small ones, have i-SITE branches. Just stop in, pick up as many tourist brochures as you like, and have the helpful staffers book you a room/kayak trip/museum tickets/bus tour/sheep shear/etc/etc/etc.

After two wine soaked days in Marlborough, we figured that it was time to get a bit of exercise. We found a short, albeit vertical, track to the geographic center of New Zealand, called, creatively enough, "Centre of NZ." 15 minutes each way and I was wiped. After a month of working on the boat, both of us have plenty of muscle strength, but cardiovascularly, we are weaklings.

The big event in town this weekend is Opera in the Park. Dame SomebodyOrOther, who performed at one of Prince Charles's weddings, would perform this evening to a crowd of 12,000. We're not big opera fans, so we decided that with 12,000 people picnicking in the park, we might actually have a hope of getting into one of the better restaurants in town. We ended up at the Boat Shed, just down the street from our hotel. Sten tried paua, a local version of abalone with an iridescent green and blue shell, and blue nose, a beautiful eating fish. I had local crayfish and scallops. It was all very good.

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