Work and Play in Nelson, NZ
I just spent the day on Rabbit Island with a fun German couple who I befriended at The Pear Orchard Lodge. Making friends is easy here and happens often. There's nothing like jumping into the car with strangers who quickly become new friends. Spontaneous fun is my favorite part of life and often happens when you're with fellow travelers. The day was overcast, but we took our swim suits just in case. So happy we did! The sun shone on what seemed like an endless beach. Bliss!
The water was warm enough to jump in, making me one happy gal. After a swim, walk along the beach, and a grocery store run, I had plenty of meat and veggies for another BBQ. Wide open doors, music hooked up to the speakers, and a beautiful view with new friends put a massive smile on my face. The constant community of kind and interesting families, couples and solo travelers has made my stay here full of good conversation and company.
Life at the Pear Orchard Lodge was even better than I anticipated when I originally visited on my weekend trip to Kaiteriteri. Waking up to the crowing roosters and enjoying the long, temperate sunny days was a relaxing way to spend 2 weeks, working for accommodation. If you're looking for quintessential Kiwi-living, look no further.
From Wellington, I hopped on the Kiwi Experience bus for transport via the Interislander ferry. The journey was smooth, took about 3 hours, and the last hour or so was a pretty spectacular welcome to the South Island through the layered Marlborough Sounds.
The bus dropped me off in Richmond, where I was kindly picked up by the owners of the Lodge. I've since walked there and back many times, a walk that somehow seemed longer each time but continued to be easy on the eyes.
Fortunately, there were often very friendly travelers I met there, willing to pick me up or drop me off in town. A nice British couple went wine tasting, and included me in a visit to Stoke Brewery, the oldest cidery in NZ. I believe it dates all the way back to 1950.
Things to do:
The Nelson area is full of high-quality boutique vineyards, including Waimea Estates and Fossil Ridge, both in walking distance. The entire area is chocked full of quality artisan everything: pottery, coffee, craft beer, etc. Here's a nice page of places to visit in the area. A car is handy for those close (but too-far-to-walk) day trips.
Back at the Lodge, I would spend a few hours tidying up the whole place. Being there for a couple of weeks there made me feel like I was at home. It was beautiful and relaxed, a perfect environment for everyone to easily intermingle. It was as if we all met up for a reunion, but nobody knew each other beforehand. The common kitchen area was a perfect spot for meeting new friends and plotting a new adventures.
There were so many tasteful touches that went beyond any backpackers hostel I've ever visited. Maybe that's because there's only one dorm room (with 6 beds), and the rest are private rooms.
The shared spaces were relaxing and functional. Rooms varied from en-suites to simply bedrooms, sharing a common bath. It's all clean and tidy, not only because of me, but because of the high standards maintained here.
Farm Fresh Food:
Another very special aspect was the farm fresh food offered. I ordered homemade warm bread, hand picked zucchini and potatoes from the garden, and eggs from the hens across the drive. The menu varied, depending on when the last cow, chicken, or lamb was...repurposed. Whatever your choice, there's something for everyone. It's all top quality, as local as it gets, and full of love.
After the morning clean up, I've been know to give a fellow lodger a haircut. I'm no professional, but I did follow up with her a week later, and she was happily wearing her hair down again. (Patting my back now.) Board games, puzzles, and good conversation take the place of a tv, and when the day is over, super comfy mattresses induce dreams of chickens escaping. My second night here, I dreamt that I left the gate open and the chickens got out! But seriously, the beds are great.
I absolutely loved this place. And soon, I'll hop on the bus again to discover more new friends while continuing my tour of the South Island, starting with Kaiteriteri. Loving the adventure!
Map of the area, from Nelson, to the Lodge, to Rabbit Island
The Pear Orchard Lodge for family or single accommodation.
Rabbit Island for an easy, close day trip for the beach or bike ride.
Stoke Brewery is a close tasting room for the oldest cidery in NZ.
Waimea Estates and Fossil Ridge are walking-distance quality wineries.
BBH hosts quality accommodation for affordable prices, and this lodge is a highly rated option.