Hilltop hikes

While I was staying with them in Nelson for four days, my friends Yulia and Yarek took me to a number of really interesting spots in the northwestern part of South Island. We went for lovely walks amid breathtaking scenery (let’s say they were moderate hikes), and some decent birds were also seen.

On the last day of the year we went to Cable Bay near Nelson. We scrambled up the mighty hill to enjoy the fantastic views from the top. Yulia pointed out the ‘iconic New Zealand landscape’ complete with rolling hills and grazing sheep, undeterred by the fact that, of course, all of this is ‘man-made’ and not the least bit natural.

The way back down to the car park right on the shingle spit in the bay was a bit of a challenge for me, as I was wearing flip-flops. When dusk fell, the grass became slippery very quickly, and I went down to the ground more than once. I imagine the earthquake stations all around the country were a bit concerned about some unexpected seismic activity on the last day of 2019…

On the first day of the new year we went into the hills of Kahurangi National Park for the afternoon. We hiked for about three hours through some lovely native beech woods and across open plains.

The sky was overcast all day, and the light somewhat murky. And you know why? There was a huge cloud of smoke from the Australian bushfires all across South Island. The satellite images that day were quite depressing…

I had hoped to see my first Kea there. And I did!

What a magnificent bird! The world’s only mountain parrot! It was alone and behaved in what seemed to be a more or less natural way. Anyway, although apparently a bit curious, it didn’t approach us and try to open our backpacks in search of food…

On the above picture you can just see Nelson and Tasman bay in the background.

Our trip the next day led us to the Top of the South, which I have already told you about.

My final day in Nelson, however, saw us set off into the mountains once again. This time we had chosen the area around Saint Arnaud and Nelson Lakes National Park.

As you can see immediately, the weather had changed completely. The air was crystal clear, it was sunny, cool and windy. Promising conditions for a walk onto one of those hilltops!

And what a treat it was, again. We climbed Mount Robert (not all of it, to be honest) and enjoyed the magnificent views across the windswept summits.

What a great way to start the new year! I am particularly grateful because these were my only days in the mountains here in NZ. Without Yulia and Yarek I couldn’t have visited all of these places.

So once again, a huge thank you!

Published by Sebastian

Geographer, naturalist and photographer (www.schroeder-esch.de). Based in Germany, but always keen to travel and explore

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