South by Land

When we pulled into Nelson, a very cool town on the northern coast of the South Island, we were immediately taken under the wing of a couple we met in Anchorage Bay over New Year’s.  We had tea at their house, enjoying their amazing garden, and benefited from their local knowledge.  Sandy had sailed here years ago from California and Sara is a Kiwi and former Suzuki flute teacher.  It always amazes me how quickly friendships are forged around boats. 

Sandy and Sara’s Garden

Unfortunately, we had no time to tarry!  We had another new boat friend to go see.  We had met Geoff and Rachael in a bay on D’Urville Island. They happen to own vineyard land in Marlborough and promised to show us around if we were in the area. We decided to make our way through Marlborough on our way down to Timaru where Isa’s Suzuki violin camp was being held.  Geoff and Racheal pulled out the stops, having us to dinner with their two sons (and dog) at their lovely home and vineyard, and then took us on the grand tour the next day. We stopped in at The Coterie for a taste of a huge range of wines with the owner Ben, and then to Wrekin Vineyard, a biodynamic vineyard breaking the mold and making the best Pinot’s we’ve yet tasted from New Zealand. Geoff then took us to his vineyard and we got to see what Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc production is all about.  Later that night we managed to have dinner with an old UC Davis colleague who is now working in Marlborough, Mark Krasnow.  It was so cool to connect with him again after so many years and meet his brand new baby!

Looking down at Wrekin Vineyard
Cameron Turning a Biodynamic Preparation

We headed off south, exploring the coast and spent three days in Christchurch.  We did all the city things, hitting the botanical gardens, taking the tram car tour and wandering around their wonderful art museum and Quake City, a museum dedicated to the shaky nature of this part of New Zealand.   

A few more hours south and we arrived in Timaru, found our quarters in the school dormitories and Suzuki Music Summer Camp was off and running.  250 people filled the grounds of Craighead Diocesan School.  The camp was awesome.  We were very pretty busy either taking Isa to her workshops, masterclasses, or orchestral performances or volunteering in some way.  Adelaide had a great time plugging into the teen program in the evenings. She participated in the busking outings with her Ukulele, explored the library, made new friends on the trampoline, and passed a good amount of time in the pool.  The camp may have been a bit more stressful for Isa. It was only her second time playing in a group and she was thrown into the senior group with a lot of great violinists. She showed her usual stoic strength and rose to the occasion.  She learned a ton and made one really great friend.  Her solo performed in front of the whole school was played with grace, composure, and beauty.  She forbids me to attach the video… but if you direct message me I’ll link you to it :).  shhh

After a week of making new friends at music camp, we headed back north to Nelson, taking a circuitous route through Aurthur’s pass where we stayed at the very eclectic Stagecoach Hotel.  I do recommend a visit there if you are on the South Island.  We had lunch the next day at the entrance to the harbor at Greymouth.  It is a notorious place on the northwest coast of the South Island with a bar crossing to get in from the sometimes raging sea.  We hear that if you need to get into Greymouth due to the weather, you probably can’t.  But it was good to see just in case we needed to stop for some other reason.

These days we are provisioning like mad, filling up the diesel tanks and… you guessed it, doing boat projects so we can head south.  Fiordland is calling and we are glued to the forecast waiting for the right moment to head south.  I’m hoping to send out some text-only posts as we head south!  We will have no cell phone connection and there is no place to get Wifi so we will be using SSB radio communications and Sat phone only. I won’t get post comments, but look forward to reading them when we get back!

If you are curious why we are heading further south to this colder, buggier, very isolated destination, just do a google image search of Milford Sound or Dusky Sound and you will see why. I look forward to sharing photos when we arrive back in the land of connectivity.

Installing Headliner…again. This time it’s gonna stick!


  1. Barbara Vawter says:

    Anne, such a great Post! I love the photos, my favorite is the one of Isa and two others on the boat! I can only dream about the beautiful music! You “Four” are awesome at making new friends, well done, I’m sure you are Blessing many Locals with your dear family!

  2. Michelle West says:

    This has been so fun going on your adventures! John and I especially marvel that you have gone everywhere we went on our journeys….not that we went everywhere you have gone:)!! I am wishing you the best of all trips to the Milford sound. It is the one place I have never had the weather to visit and we just missed it by a day last year! Much love and hugs, Michelle and uncle John

  3. Ruth says:

    You pictures are excellent. The opportunities you have amaze me. You know people all over the world. How exciting to visit these wonderful people. I continue to pray for your protection and favor wherever you travel. Exciting times are still ahead of you. Love and blessings. Aunt Ruth

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Hey Tom, the link is on its way. The headliner is a material that goes onto the ceiling of the boat. It’s basically an aesthetic layer. I’ve been installing insulation under the deck, which prevents condensation, then applying the headliner to make it look nice and make it easy to clean.

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