Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco

Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco is at the less unusual end of the unusual accommodation spectrum, but it’s a charming red brick complex built in the style of English terrace houses. The Grand Mercure isn’t in Nelson, but in the suburb of Monaco, it’s five minutes drive from the airport and about 15 minutes drive to Nelson city centre.

Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco

Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco

The Grand Mercure has a mix of hotel rooms, one bedroom studios and one and two bedroom cottages.

We’re members of the Accor Plus programme and last year I wrote about some of the advantages to Read the rest

Let’s Buy The Beach New Zealand

Update March 2016: Money received, beach purchased and the process of making it part of Abel Tasman National Park has started. High five Duane and Adam.

Update 24/2/16: Double thumbs up New Zealand – tender offer accepted. Around 10% of pledges in a givealittle campaign aren’t honoured, hopefully this campaign will be different.

Update 12/2/16: The $2,000,000 target was reached on the evening of 12 February, nice one NZ! Pledges can still be made until 3pm Monday 15 February, the total won’t change from two million, so others participating in the tender process won’t know exactly what they’re up … Read the rest

Wearable Art

All sorts of curious items find new life as wearable art – used tea bags, bird wings, and even whole budgies – Budgerigar Brassiere. One designer mentioned half a gallon of Mac’s Gold beer in her materials list although that may have helped fuel her creativity.

It’s not only curious items but also common materials that are turned into stunning wearable art. In 2009 Alaskan carpenter David Walker won the Supreme Award at the World of WearableArt Awards Show (WOW) with ‘Lady of the Wood’. The design is a reproduction of a 17th century ball gown and is made … Read the rest

Tophouse, St Arnaud

-Tophouse reopened in July 2015 under new management-

Tophouse near St Arnaud was established in 1887 to accommodate drovers travelling between Nelson and Canterbury. Today Tophouse operates as a guesthouse, cafe and tiny bar. The white washed walls cover a mix of cow manure, horse hair, straw and sand used in its construction.

Tophouse, St Arnaud - tiny bar on the right

Tophouse, St Arnaud – tiny bar on the right

The tiny bar at Tophouse is an addition to the building, it could squeeze in a standing dozen with the front lawn handling the over flow (insect repellent recommended). The bar started serving alcohol again in 2008 after … Read the rest

Arts Unique Wood Sculpture Garden

Update 2016: At the end of 2015 Arts Unique left Marahau and relocated to Waimangaroa (around 15 minutes north of Westport). Some of the sculptures were sold, but check out Arts Unique on Facebook to see what’s happening at the new location.

Arts Unique, RD 2 Marahau, on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park
There’s a sign inviting visitors to walk around and take photos in the Arts Unique sculpture garden and that’s what we did as Arts Unique gallery hadn’t opened for the day. You can leave a koha (donation) in the tree.

Sculpture of Abel Tasman (1603-1659), the first European to discover New Zealand. By  Ken Blum & Woody Woodward

Sculpture of Abel Tasman

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“It’s just a hill – get over it!” to a curious coffee stop

“It’s just a hill – get over it!” is what you’ll see on t-shirts in Golden Bay, a reference to the hill you need to get over to arrive in Takaka. On 12 September 1887 a Mr T A Field set out to ride over the hill on his penny farthing, being knee deep in mud didn’t stop him, Takaka and Golden Bay are still well worth the hill climb.

The Dangerous Kitchen in Takaka

The Dangerous Kitchen in Takaka

Takaka’s main street is a colourful collection of buildings and if you have an eye for the alternative and like your food wholesome and healthy … Read the rest

Fish for lunch in Takaka

Anatoki Salmon, 242 McCallum Road, Takaka
You catch it, they’ll smoke it at Anatoki Salmon. We spotted Matty McLean and friends fishing for their lunch – success. The use of fishing gear is free, you pay per kg for the salmon you catch. In November the price was $15 a kilo, from what we saw expect to pay about $22 per fish (includes cleaning and smoking).

Fishing success

Fishing success

I wasn’t keen to give it a go, it seemed a bit like going to the zoo to hunt wild game to me, but I was happy to have salmon sushi in … Read the rest

Weird and wonderful short walks in Takaka

Weird – The Labyrinth, Scott Road
The Labyrinth consists of a maze like pathway through limestone rock formations. Pick up a brochure at the entrance (or Takaka i-SITE), it helps you find formations that to someone look like The Kissing Pigs, a Troll Bridge, Stegosaurus and plenty more. We’re wondering if the person who identified the formations was high on something other than life at the time. Then there’s the smurfs and plastic toys along the way, we’re probably just not imaginative enough. 

The Labyrinth

The Labyrinth

The Indian's Face

The Indian’s Face

We could kind of make out The Indian’s Face, maybe. Still, it’s … Read the rest

VW themed accommodation – the bug Backpackers, Nelson

It’s easy to see why the bug has twice been awarded first place in the BBH National Quality Awards (2011 & 2012 in the 41-70 bed category). From the outside the hostel (which is three buildings) looks well maintained but it’s the interior where the quality and personality of the rooms and facilities shine.

the bug

the bug

The bug has a subtle VW theme – a poster in the laundry, VW models in a kitchen, and VW’s make an appearance in the bedrooms in one form or other – wall art, money box or maybe a print. You might even find … Read the rest

No worries in Golden Bay – Sans Souci Inn

It only takes a minute or two to walk from San Souci Inn to Pohara beach, but you may find the hammock strung in the courtyard is as far as you want to go. Sans Souci translates to “no worries”, the perfect fit for this unique, eco friendly property in laid back Golden Bay (approximately 90 minutes from Nelson).

Relax at Sans Souci

Relax at Sans Souci

Sans Souci is unique in its construction and design, it was hand built by owners Reto and Vera Balzer from more than 9,500 mud bricks. The thick brick walls of the Inn retain the sun’s heat and … Read the rest