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1 extra day to Nelson or Picton

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Sep 28th, 2016, 06:10 AM
  #1
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1 extra day to Nelson or Picton

Hello my fellow Fodorites,

I will be honeymooning in NZ South Island in November. I have one extra day I can only allocate in the North part of the South Island.

Below is my itinerary for the north part of the south island. From there we will continue onto the remainder of the south island for another 2 weeks.

Day 1 - Fly into Nelson and arrive around 930 am
Day 2 - Abel Tasman full day
Day 3 - maybe go to the beaches or rent bikes and go wine tasting
Day 4 - EXTRA DAY. Stay in Nelson or Go to Picton ??? OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS
Day 5 - Blenheim
Day 6 - Blenheim
Day 7 - Kaikoura

DAY 4 - We could do the scenic drive from Nelson to Picton, we could stop in Havelock for their famous mussels, then do a cruise around the Queen Charlotte Sounds. And stay in Picton overnight, I suppose. The scenic route is about 2 hours correct? How much time should I allocate towards this drive with some stops? Then this could cut my drive from Nelson to Blenheim as well on Day 5. Alternatively, I could stay in Nelson on Day 4. Then Day 5 head to Blenheim via the non scenic route, as I don't think we will have time to do the scenic drive and wine taste on Day 5 (which I really want to spend 2 full days wine tasting in Blenheim). What is the driving distance from Nelson to Blenheim non scenic route and scenic route? I am getting so many mixed reviews on this online!

Thank you so much for your responses. Please let me know your thoughts.
SMfeldman is offline  
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Sep 28th, 2016, 08:02 AM
  #2
 
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I think Picton is a good idea, but you'll need to plan well to fit in the drive and a cruise - for example, the Pelorus Sound mail boat leaves from Havelock at 9:30 three days a week, it returns at 5 pm.

The Beachcomber mail boat leaves Picton at 1 pm and returns between 5:30-6.

I'd allow at least 2.5 hours for the drive from Nelson to Picton via Queen Charlotte Drive, which is a slow winding 35 km with lots of photo opportunities. If you're only going as far as Havelock, 90 minutes should be sufficient. Mind you, these estimates don't include giving into temptation and stopping for a coffee at Rai Valley, or exploring a track at Pelorus Bridge, etc.

Picton to Blenheim is only 25 minutes, so if you spend the night in Picton, you'll have all day to wine taste in Blenheim, no worries there.

The only other route that I'm aware of is via Port Underwood - this is a narrow, unsealed logging road, which in my experience is a bit dicey (we drove it in the winter)- it will add significant time to the drive and I suspect, it might be a rental car violation.

I'm all for violating rental car contracts, but this road isn't something I'd suggest to someone short on time.

Nelson to Blenheim via the most straightforward route is about 90 minutes.

I highly recommend Queen Charlotte Drive.
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Sep 28th, 2016, 10:44 AM
  #3
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That's great advice! Perhaps, if I leave at 8 am out of Nelson to head to Picton that will be enough time to enjoy some stops and make a 1 pm cruise reservation ?

Also, what area do you suggest to stay in Nelson with my above itinerary?
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Sep 28th, 2016, 02:54 PM
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I've never found Nelson a particularly good base for exploring Abel Tasman, although it has quite a lot on offer on its own, such as beer and wine trails, walking tracks, water activities, a pretty town center and a vibrant arts and crafts community.

I prefer being closer to Abel Tasman; in the vicinity of Motueka. The town of Motueka itself isn't much to get excited about, but the surrounding areas of Tasman, Upper Moutere, Kaiteriteri, Little Kaiteriteri and Mapua are my preferred bases for Abel Tasman Nat'l Park.

The tiny settlement of Marahau is right at the doorstep of the Abel Tasman Track - it's certainly pretty, but there's not much there in terms of food, petrol, etc.

I also like the hippiesque farming community of Takaka, which is in Golden Bay, at the northern end of Abel Tasman, but a it's a bit off the beaten path for most first time visitors and the access to Abel Tasman from that end is a bit more complicated.

So...that's my long answer of where I prefer to stay, which isn't in Nelson at all.

I think leaving Nelson at 8 am should be plenty of time to get to Picton by 1 pm. Keep in mind its a bit of a walk from the public parking in Picton to the cruise dock - maybe 15 minutes along the waterfront, so just give yourself time to get your bearings when you arrive.
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Sep 28th, 2016, 03:01 PM
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FWIW we really enjoyed our stay at a vineyard in Hope (on the outskirts of Nelson) a few years back. It provided the peace and quiet we wanted, plus easy access to wineries and our favorite Indian restaurant in Nelson city. We didn't use it as a base for Abel Tasman though, we stayed closer to Motueka.

http://www.milcrestestate.co.nz/
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Sep 30th, 2016, 10:46 AM
  #7
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Thank you Melnq8!!
SMfeldman is offline  
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Oct 2nd, 2016, 03:43 AM
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SM - whilst I appreciate what Mel has to say about Nelson, and why she says it, we stayed there for 3 nights and liked it a lot as a base partly because we could walk around the town, have a drink and enjoy a meal without having to worry about who was driving, and secondly because it was a nice place to stay.

Because we'd been driving a lot [too much in truth] we opted for a day trip to Abel Tasman which included a coach transfer and the boat trip to one end of the walk and picking us up from the other end. This worked perfectly, apart from us misjudging the time the walk would take so we really rushed it and then spent a long time on the beach at the other end. The coach picked us up from our motel at the beginning of the day and dropped us back at the end.

On our other day there we did a self-guided tour of some wineries [we seemed to pick some of the same ones as a guided minibus tour which was another option] and the oldest pub in NZ which was interesting and on the way back we came across something in Nelson which I think must have been Founder's Brewery which was a lot of fun.

We also had a great Italian meal there one night and a not so good one in a pub on one of the others. The third night we had one of the best meals we had on our whole trip which increases my liking for Nelson.

http://www.boatshedcafe.co.nz/#_=_

After that however I think that we'd have been hard-pressed to find much else to do there so your idea of heading to Picton after that is a good one, I think.
annhig is offline  
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Oct 3rd, 2016, 03:46 AM
  #9
 
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If you have time, it is possible to walk a section of the Queen Charlotte Track, as well as take a boat on the Sounds.
I thought Nelson was a nicer and more interesting town than Picton but Queen Charlotte Sound is beautiful.

We only drove through Blenheim a couple of times while touring the Marlborough vineyards and it didn't seem all that appealing to me. Perhaps consider Renwick or Picton as alternatives? The vineyards themselves were great (NZ has fabulous wine and many offered lunch).

If looking for a recommendation on where to stay in Nelson, we really loved our short stay at Joya. We had the room overlooking the pond. Breakfast was scrumptious.

We absolutely loved our stay in the area.
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