NZ Day 19: Nelson to Blenheim

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Queen Charlotte and Kennepuru Sounds

The weather catches up to me again

Sunday, December 18

The forecast was still pretty good in the morning so I headed out dressed more or less as I had been yesterday. I didn’t make it far out of Nelson on highway 6 before I encountered drizzle and colder weather on a small mountain pass. The drizzle didn’t last long but I quickly added a layer and changed gloves.

I continued east, eventually branching off the main road onto the Queen Charlotte Drive and then onto Kennepuru Road. The road hugs the north side of the peninsula that separates the Kennepuru Sound from the Queen Charlotte Sound. There are places along the way where you can ride or hike over to the Queen Charlotte (south) side.

Had a fun time. It’s a narrow twisting road through lush green forest with frequent views of the sound. It’s a “second gear road” because really all you need to do is leave the bike in second and let the motor do the rest between 30 and 50 kmh (20-35 mph). It’s fun riding that favors precision and finesse over brute power. Just the kind of thing this Honda does so well.

I kept going under grey skies until I felt the first drop of rain close to a place called Picnic Bay. Made my way back, rejoined the Queen Charlotte Drive eastbound along the south shore of Grove Arm, then into Picton.

I had a quick and far-too-expensive late lunch overlooking the harbor in Picton before riding south to Blenheim. Crossing the hills that separate the two, the remaining clouds dissipated but I picked up strong winds.

I splurged a bit on the hotel as it’s my last night on the road. Unlike everyplace I’ve stayed, it has a pool. Unfortunately, it does not have a heated pool, so I chose a long warm shower instead. There’s a nice restaurant and a good wine tasting selection. Very appropriate to the heart of the Wairau Valley, where some of the best sauvignon blanc in the world is grown.

Tomorrow will be a long day.

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