The road to the north of Kaikoura is still out of action, so a 2 hour drive up the coast became a 6 hour drive inland. With a massive breakfast before we set off, and regular stops for coffee, viewpoints, waterfalls and lunch, it didn't seem that bad, although he repairs from the earthquake were still evident with lots of gravelly bits of road and low speed zones, and loads of people working to repair them. Hanmer Springs looked like a nice place to stop another time, with hot pools and flumes, but we made it to nelson by 6pmish.
My dad's best mate from school moved to New Zealand ten years ago, and although it is probably over 20 years since I have seen them, we made contact and arranged to mooch a few nights off them. They haven't changed at all, and we instantly felt properly welcomed, as they cooked us amazing veggie meals and told us what to head to in the local area.
Our first full day in Nelson involved going into town, buying me a new phone, leaving it in the shop to set itself up (which ended up taking several hours) while visited the cathedral, had lunch at a Swedish bakery (excellent cinnamon buns) walked to the centre of New Zealand (amazing views, after a proper march up he hill, made harder by being up against the deadline of an expiring car park ticket), a drive out to the beach, and a lovely walk on it, followed by playing on the swings, then driving back into town, checking up on the phone, and visiting the jewellers who made the one ring (and all the other rings) for the Lord of the Rings films, buying Lisa something precious, then getting the phone (woohoo!) and heading home.
Day two took us to rabbit island, and Mapua, for walks and beaches, and an evening out for dinner at a lovely restaurant by the marina. The cruise ship "the world" was docked, which might explain why so many of the restaurants were full.
The next day we headed north just a little to the edge of Able Tasman national park, where we discovered we had booked he wrong dates for a hotel, so some frantic airbnb searches (hurrah for having a phone again) found us a room nearby. We ate burgers as big as our heads in the Sprig and Fern (a Nelson brewery chain which I would happily enjoy more often, especially as they have Mango cider, and he best crispy potatoes I've had this side of the Forest of Dean.
With the nearest parkrun about 200 miles away, and the race we had wondered about being too far south, we had a morning run up the Able Tasman trail, a well kept coastal path, with a liberal scattering of beautiful backpackers to say good morning to. It took us a long time to cover about 8 miles, as it was quite hilly, had far too many detours to secret beaches and secluded campsites, and generally was best savoured than sprinted. A quick shower back at the house, and then it was off for our second biggest drive of the trip, down to Greymouth.