Our decision to move to Motueka was a relatively easy one. I had my job lined up, Dave wanted somewhere new to explore, and we had only heard wonderful things about the area – the sun, the beaches, the people, the National Park. It was a no brainer.
As our road trip came to an end we drove Nancy to the top of the South Island and through the ‘Welcome to Sunny Motueka’ sign, a nervous smile plastered to my face. We had high hopes for our new little home, and what if it didn’t fulfill? We had spent so long cosied up in Wanaka that it seemed strange to be starting again elsewhere. But that’s the thing about travelling, just as you get comfortable it’s time to move on again.
We drove along the high street, noting the considerable number of cars but with hardly a person in sight. We were looking for Nick – a friend we had met working at Cardrona that was half-Brit, half-Motueka-ian (?) – and was looking forward to finding a familiar face in this new, alien town. In true Nick style, he swept us off our feet with his hosting; piling into his ute we drove around not just Motueka, but Kaiteriteri and Marahau too. He showed us the entrance to the Abel Tasman National Park, the expanse of native bush extending for miles alongside stunning coastline. We meandered through Motueka’s quaint Sunday Market, exploring all the local cuisine and hand made crafts whilst sipping on a cup of green tea. And of course we were shown the best place to buy fish and chips (or not, as we later discovered).
The tour came to an end just outside of town, at the home of Nick’s dad. It’s always interesting meeting a friends parent. I’d known Nick for five months, not long in the grand scheme of things but long enough to understand his morals and outlooks, his ambitions and gestures. Upon meeting his father, Paul, it all made sense. Like father, like son.
We were all chatting away, laughing at Dave and myself’s lack of hygiene (from the road trip) and whimpering at how horrendously we had been attacked by New Zealand’s most terrifying critter – the sand fly – when Paul asked us if we wanted to stay at the Hairy Hobbit. Initially confused and then intrigued, I finally understood that he was talking about the holiday cottage he runs 100 meters from his home. After three weeks cramped in the back of Nancy we were delighted to be spending the night in our own luxurious cottage.
The cottage was simple, yet stunning. Situated in the Brooklyn Valley Hills, the views overlook the whole of Tasman Bay, finishing with Nelson nestled in the background. We took delight in cooking with the view (on a proper stove for the first time in weeks!), and sat in the hanging chairs on the deck whilst the sun set behind the distant hills. The atmosphere, so peaceful and tranquil, as we listened to only the sounds of the chirping crickets. The double bed, the outdoors bathtub and shower, the loo-with-a-view. We were.
The next morning we packed everything up, readying ourselves to thank Paul and Nick for their generosity and head for the nearest campsite. But Nick just looked at us, confused, before turning us around and setting us back in with our belongings. We stayed for a total of five nights in the end, and we loved every minute of it.
I’d begun my new job on the third morning of us staying at the Hairy Hobbit. Dave was yet to find work, so he was delighted to have Nick and Paul to hang out with (even when they took him to the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park and he went over the handle bars and there was blood everywhere…) I would come home from work and the boys would be in the games room playing darts or table tennis. It was like they were both at a summer camp, playing games and relaxing in the sun.
On our last morning at the Hairy Hobbit Nick showed us their dam, that provides water for both Paul’s house and the Hairy Hobbit Eco Cottage. He explained how it works, and if I’m honest it went a little bit over my head but it was very impressive nonetheless! And then it was time for us to spread our wings and flee the nest.The nest that had so generously welcomed us to Motueka, provided us with all the information we could need and pointed us in the right direction for where to go next.
We moved into a small house, owned by a lady named Bridgett who was mostly very sweet but also slightly mental, and began the second part of our Mot-adventure. I had completed my first week at work (very successful, lots of lovely people, who coincidentally are also slightly mental. So I fit in very well there) and Dave had begun work as a landscaper. We were successfully adult-ing. Paying rent, earning money, going the gym, and I was starting to feel really grown up.
And we were really grown up, until 1 am on a Tuesday morning when we were woken up by our housemate Andy banging on our bedroom door. He told us to get up, to get out, that there was a Tsunami warning. And without thought we got up, grabbed the car key and followed Andy to Nelson. And that part was really grown up of us, except the drive to Nelson was completely along the coast – the road was practically on the beach, and if a Tsunami was going to hit then we were pretty much buggered. The second silly thing that we did that night, was to actually drive most of the way to Nelson – an earthquake with a 7.8 magnitude had hit Kaikoura, about 3 hours away from Motueka, but the Tsunami warnings were mostly for the East Coast. Motueka is situated on the North Coast. So whilst we were right to wake up, and get up and be prepared, we didn’t actually need to leave our house at all. Silly Andy.
That turned out to be a pretty long day too. With not much sleep, a full day of work and an endless series of aftershocks I quickly realized that earthquakes were no laughing matter. Thankfully the damage has been relatively minimal – although it had only been a couple of weeks prior to this that we had been in Kaikoura ourselves, where people have been stranded for weeks.
Since then, however, Dave and I have moved house again. Out of Bridgett’s and into Lex’s – an even more mental landlord (there must be something in the water). The house is amazing: big garden, big social area, big bedroom, lots of fancy looking palm trees. We’re delighted to have found somewhere perfect after countless disastrous dead-ends (we experienced lots of landlords trying to cram as many tenants into a property as possible, for as much money as possible). And we’ve traded the overly-aware Andy for my colleague Drew, who informed us that he doesn’t even wake up during earthquakes… uh oh.
It’s been about six weeks since we moved to Motueka now. I’d love to say that we’ve spent lots of time exploring the National Parks but in reality, we haven’t. There’s been a lot of rain. And with only one week until Christmas we’re hopeful that the weather will improve, as we’re excited to, hopefully, spend Christmas day on the beach. But whilst the weather has been patchy, we’ve still managed to go canyoning in the Abel Tasman and kayaking around Cable Bay, and visit the sounds for a bit of wine-tasting (with Sarah and Brett – who knew Picton had a great night life?!).
With potentially another three months in Motueka ahead of us, we’re excited to spend more time exploring and having lots and lots of adventures. Even if we have to wear our Anoraks as we go.