On the morning of Wednesday, 10/7, I left Nomads Capital Backpackers in Wellington early in the morning, but just in time to make a free pancake.
Fortunately, a few of my hostels have offered free pancakes in the mornings. Unfortunately, I have yet to create an editable one.
The shuttle bus picked me up at my hostel at 7:20am for the 9am departure. The final check-in for the ferry was 8:15am. I had a bus booked from Picton (south island ferry terminal) to Nelson but it was supposed to leave 15 minutes after the ferry was supposed to arrive in Picton. I was nervous I'd miss my bus so I asked if I could keep both my backpacks with me on the ferry. The woman said no, I had to check my big one. After giving her some worried looks, she said she'd put my bag under priority luggage so it'd come out of the carousel first in Picton.
I got on the ferry and it was huge! I think the maximum capacity said about 1,000 people. There were cafes, restaurants, lounges, a playground, and movie theater. I decided that I'll pick a seat near a window and just camp there for the 3.5 hour trip. An older couple sat next to me and it sounded like they had American accents. After about an hour we started to make conversation. Apparently, they used to live in Media, PA, my home town!
We were talking about our routes and where we were hoping to hit while in the south island. Les and Dianne were going to Montueka which is just passed Nelson. When I told them my concerns about catching my bus, they told me to not count on catching the bus and go with them in their rental car. They said they'd drop me right off at my hostel.
Well, this will be easy.
The ferry ride was quite gorgeous. I didn't realize how many tiny islands were between the north and south island of New Zealand. It was quite exraordinary.
When we got off the ferry, my bag, like promised, came along the carousel first. I could have easily made it to my bus but I figured it'd be nice to talk to Les and Dianne more. Plus, they'd drop me off right at my hostel and I had no idea the distance between the bus stop and hostel or how to get there.
Driving with the couple was actually hilarious. Les drove and Dianne backseat drove. They had to use "teamwork" as they called it to navigate New Zealand on the left side of the road. At every intersection or roundabout, Dianne would say, "OK, look right, look left, look right, stay left," without fail. They basically said everything Les had to do outloud to make it clearer to him how to drive on the left side of the road. I'm just glad I'm busing it everywhere.
Again, like promised, Les and Dianne dropped me off right outside Paradiso Backpackers. I walked in and the receptionist asked my name. I had booked two nights but I asked, like I always do when I show up to a new town, "So, what is here to do here?"
Her response was basically, "Nothing." Great. I asked if I could only stay one night but it was too late to cancel my other booked night. Well, I guess I'll make the best of it. I spent that afternoon by the pool, laying in the sun and trying to figure out what I could do for the next couple days, as well as researching flights via Skyscanner from Queenstown to Auckland so I'll be able to catch my flight to Brisbane about 2 weeks from then.
To my surprise, along with the free serving of instant noodles they gave me at the time of check-in, Paradiso hostel also provides free breakfast and vegetable soup for dinner. By 6pm, everyone was crowded into the big kitchen to grab their bowl of vegetable soup, side of bread and dessert (usually cake or cookie). It wasn't the best soup I ever had, but it was free! I sat down next to a girl staying in my dorm, Jen, and another guy, Toby, both from England. It is so easy to make friends in hostels, especially when traveling solo.
Later on in the night we got in the hot tub with a couple beers and just relaxed. There were 4 other American girls studying abroad in New Zealand and were on their school holiday. Let's just say, they didn't represent the States in the classiest way. But, hey, you win some, you lose some. America needs as many travelers as possible to get out there and show that the States aren't full of dumb, helpless, fat people who want to shoot up the place.
(Like I said in an earlier post and may elaborate in a later one, foreigners are not very happy with the American gun control system right now and they make it very apparent).
Planning the Abel Tasman Coastal Trek
I met another person from Yorkshire (Oh, you're a Yorkshire lad!) named Andy. We started calling him Bear Grylls because he was explaining how he has been sleeping in trees and on picnic tables with his hammock and sleeping bag, using his solar powered charger for electricity. That night I was trying to research how to experience Abel Tasman but it seemed very difficult and expensve. Nakedbus wouldn't go there and you could either do the 5 day trek and camp out, or you could do expensive day trips to see the national park. I was nervous I wasn't going to be able to see Abel Tasman at all. That's when Andy invited me to do the whole Abel Tasman Coastal Tek with him. He said he'd help me get the supplies I needed and we could plan it out the next day. I haven't camped out in years so I wouldn't trust myself to be prepared and to do it on my own, but Andy seemed very experienced. So I said sure!
Andy figured we could do the whole trek (32 miles) in two days. We'd take a bus up to Marahau to start our trek, make our first camp at Bark Bay and our second at Toturanui. Then I could take a water taxi back to Marahau so I'd be back at Nelson in 3 days.
The next day, a few of us went into town to do some shopping, Andy and I focusing on gettin prepared for the trek. I found a used sleeping bag at a thrift store for NZ$2, a tent for NZ$16, and a sleeping mat for NZ$10. All very cheap! We then headed to the Nelson i-SITE to book our campsites and transportation. After that, we got all the food we would need. This included a loaf of bread, crackers, peanut butter, hummus, brie cheeese, beef jerky, meal replacement bars, apples, oranges, nuts, tuna, etc. I was a little nervous about the trek--we'd have to walk about 16 miles a day! But I was committed now!
Check out my next post and experience the Abel Tasman Coastal Trek with me!