Sunday, March 27, 2011

New Beginnings: Hitch-hiking and Abel Tasman

When Jill and I finally embarked on our journey together from Wellington, everything seemed right. Except for the fact that we had to take three modes of transportation just to get to the ferry (that wasn’t very far away in the first place). I found it amusing that the ride from the North to the South Island was only three hours. What was even more interesting is that locals living in Wellington had never been to the South Island. Bizarre. The ride was gorgeous.

 A perfectly painted picture and more gorgeous the closer we got to our destination. We passed the Marlborough Sounds, dozens of islands, some of which people lived and had to get to by boat. When we finally arrived in Picton we began our hitch-hiking journey. At first we didn't have much luck because of all the tourists getting off, but we were eventually picked up by Suzie, a Bahai eccentric white lady. She did most of the talking, eager to get us to work in the vineyards or to join her cult, we were unsure. She dropped us off in a spot that we later realized was the worst spot ever. Our endeavors continued with various drivers, one of which owned a vineyard that produced grapes for Kendall-Jackson, so that was interesting. 

The most amazing ride happened to be from Richard, the local Kiwi from Christchurch that made the excursion to Nelson each week. We drove us nearly four hours, and if it weren't for his kind presence we would've have stayed in Nelson. That night we had dinner and he paid the tab. He was one of the more gracious drivers that showed us local sites without asking.  We hitched ride into Motueka and finally Marahau, which is where we planned to hike for a few days. We stayed at a backpackers called Kanuka Ridge, which was kind of ghetto and a bit miserly. I swear we were being scammed for everything, including the campsites we had to book in advance for the hike. I got Jillian hooked on Scrabble, so we played every night we could. It really has been a great travel companion and I'm thankful for it. The next day we embarked on our tramp from Mutton Cove, the very last beach that you could be dropped off at. We had 50 km to finish in three days, and when we were dropped off by our water taxi, we were ecstatic to see the beach so secluded.

The Abel Tasman track was pretty popular. I wasn't ask excited to do it because I knew how many people would be on it and that I had to pay $12 a night for a camp spot. The track was spectacular; picturesque beaches and coast, it reminded me a lot of Kaua'i's Na Pali Coast.A lot of the hiking was done on the beach itself, which made for really awesome sand blisters later on. This hike was our first encounter with a plethora of bees and sandflies. Not charming. Luckily I had no bee stings, which would have been fuck-all seeing that I'm allergic. But those damn sandflies were little bastards, eating away at my ankles and fingers. They are relentless, and quite possibly, the only horrible thing about New Zealand. You will itch for weeks because of these buggers, leaving gaping wounds because they irritate so much. We stayed in Tonga Quarry the first night. Epic sunset. The next night we stayed in Watering Cove, which has the most peaceful sunrise I've seen in ages. Throughout the three days we were eating the most minimal of food and water, consisting of carrots, apples, peanut butter, tortillas, and honey. For dinner we'd have tuna and pasta. The last nigh we were hiking out to Marahau, we both realized we had pains in our ankle, possibly a sprang or hairline fracture from overexertion. I also realized that I was in a state of euphoria...possibly from lack of water or a bee sting. I will never know...
When we finally finished the hike, we ate the most amazing meal at The Fat Tui. If ever in these parts again, we must have food from here. It's probably the best I've had in NZ, even if it's only a food cart.

South Island thus far: Fantastic
Abel Tasman hike: Pretty lovely, but too touristy to do again.

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