What does AWF stand for… Adopt Winking Ferrets?

This weekend was my birthday weekend, which called for a mini adventure. It is now a tradition to go to France cycling for my birthday, which for obvious reasons this year wouldn’t be possible.

I got to work early on Thursday morning to find my lovely colleagues had decorated my desk for me. I stepped away from my desk around an hour later to find more decorations – made me feel very much loved.

After leaving work at 3pm

on the Thursday to ‘get stuff ready’ pick up a bike for James’ friend to take over to Nelson for him, do laundry and empty the fridge ready to de-frost the fridge -freezer whilst we are away as the freezer bit has taken over (the crazy life we lead!) A quick clean of the van, with some fancy new seat covers in place whilst James packed the bike tool box. We eventually got to bed about half 11 with only a bag of clothes packed and not much else! Not so fun when we had to be at the boat for 8am.

After 50 winks, it was birthday time! A quick face time to mama and papa (and Lily the dog) for some birthday wishes with party hats on, van packed and we just about made it to the harbour in time.

I had some party bags and a fully birthday themed van awaiting me, James was a wimp and didn’t keep his party hat on to talk to the check in lady.

We had specifically chosen the daytime boat so that we could appreciate the view coming into Marlborough Sounds. We spent most of the time outside because the view was AMAZING.

– this is Pencarrow Head where we went a few weeks ago


the water really was that blue



Arriving into Picton

Although the trip had been planned for weeks, we didn’t really have a plan of what to do when we got there. So, we played the game of drop a pin in google maps and off we tootled to a lovely little place to Okiwi Bay.

It was noticeably warmer as soon as we set off, cruising through Marlborough, the wine region, with vineyards aplenty, and cute little sheep keeping the grass short.

We were soon out of wine region and into farm region.


Owiki bay was beautiful, so peaceful and only a few little boats coming in and out. Perfect place for a cuppa tea and some birthday chocolate.

We noticed a sign for Elaine Bay being 17km away, James’ Mama is called Elaine so off we went thinking, 17km will be quick and easy we will be there in no time – Nah, it was the windiest, wiggliest hill I’ve seen for some time. Think Bouley Bay hill on drugs. With, the most gorgeous views out to sea.

Elaine Bay was also lovely, there had been a whale sighting there a couple of weeks earlier, not today though. We did see loads of star fish and mussels.


Time was getting on so we head off into Nelson, via the newly built highway where we were stopped in traffic. We were greeted with a very grumpy looking girl sat next to the stop-go sign. She was sporting a very fetching fluro jacket with AWF on the back. Which is when we started trying to guess what AWF stood for. Cue many silly suggestions, including Adopt Winking Ferrets.

As it happens, after some googling, turns out AWF doesn’t actually stand for anything and is just a recruitment agency in NZ. Not winking ferrets after all.

Our little air bnb was lovely, had a really nice view out across Nelson Bay. Even had some Arum Lillie’s in the garden which remind me of my dear great-gran Maman who used to have them in her garden.

With Friday being my birthday, we head out to dinner with our friend Lloyd and his girlfriend Olivia. Was really lovely to catch up with Lloyd having not seen to him since we were last in New Zealand in 2015.

Saturday morning we head out for a late breakfast, our day was split up because James had an interview in the middle of the day, which took HOURSSSSSSSSSSS. I took the opportunity to head to the local craft shop and got myself some fun new fabric to make some bits with.

Nelson Bay is sort of protected by a huge spit, which we thought we could go and see – however after driving around and not being able to find the road to get there we found somewhere to stop – with a little skate jumpy thing (technical term) and a park. I set up camp on the swing and James played on the skatey jumpy thing

Sunday morning we decided to go for a ride, however, we may or may not have gone through a closed trail barrier and got a little bit lost. Cue clambering over pine trees, thinking we had found a way down, then realising it was actually a loop track and we were going to end up higher up the mountain and more lost than when we started!

Needless to say I was very happy to be back at the van when we eventually found a way out.

Later we went for a little adventure to the beach, even people in the sea, which is pretty crazy because it’s the middle of winter!

Sunday evening was spent eating pizza and playing monopoly with Lloyd and Olivia. I thought being banker would help my cause and help me win. How wrong was I…. I got to about 6 properties before the banker had to give out a loan to all players – followed by having to bargain with everyone then give away my properties and finally admit defeat that actually I was just rubbish at monopoly!

Lloyd thoroughly enjoyed that Olivia was winning….

Monday morning we were supposed to get up early and do a big mission of a ride, except it was raining, so back to sleep we went. Unfortunately the air bnb we were staying at didn’t have kitchen facilities so out came the camp stove to make some scrambled eggs!

After a quick goodbye to Lloyd and re-packing the van we set off south to Lake Rotoiti, an hour south of Nelson.

– we found the smugglers

– rain was coming!

It was gorgeous, and empty when we arrived. We pottered around for a little bit, and found the eels who live under the boardwalk.



With such a lovely view we stayed for a cuppa tea, opened up the side door of the van and put on the stove. Oh what a mistake-a-to-make-a. Sand-flies were EVERYWHERE! The van was FULL of the biting little buggers.

So we shut up shop, nearly killed ourselves inhaling bug spray and set on our way back north to Picton to catch the ferry back later in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, we didn’t check to confirm the time of the boat before we got there…… It didn’t result in missing the boat, but arriving an hour and a half too early. The fuss James was making you would have thought it was the end of the world.

When we checked in, we were asked if we had gas with us, we said no, because we only have a little gas canister and thought nothing of it. Until about an hour later, sat in the back of the van making a cuppa tea (see the theme here) when we had a knocking on the door. And a very official looking woman poking her head in. Oh sh!t we thought. James tried to sneakily hide the stove behind him, nearly dropping the pan in the process! All was ok, because she was just a lady from the environment department making sure we knew the risks of didymo, or rock snot, which is a sort of bacteria fungus things found in waterways which is spreading through New Zealand and they are trying to slow down the spread of it. She handed us a packet of detergent to clean our bikes with and set on her way.

When we got on the boat we had company, in the form of a trailer full of lovely little sheeps. I may be a farmer’s daughter but I have a heart. These poor little sheep were so cramped and we have since made the decision that the sheep weren’t on their final journey to the slaughter house but were on their way to a bigger better field, and we will no longer eat lamb. It’s strange being here and not knowing where your meat comes from. Back home I don’t have an issue eating meat my parents have reared, I know the animals have had a good life and have been cared for, but here we cannot be so sure. No more red meat for us… Still working on finding a sustainably sourced meat producer here so we can eat meat again.  (We still eat chicken, and did have sausages tonight, but we are trying…!)

The boat was pretty much empty as it was a Monday night so we had a sofa each to stretch out on and snooze – handy because the boat was delayed by around an hour (slightly reminiscent of Condor!)

Eventually it was home and bed. Well it would have been bed, except for the fact that we had left the freezer to defrost. And de-frost it had. By flooding the floor. UGH!

Followed by a 5 am alarm the next morning, Tuesday morning at work was not going to be fun!

The adventure continues…

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