22nd to 27th September 2011
Ferrying to the South
Early start this morning as we grabbed the 6.59am train to town, just barely… Then it was just a short walk over to the ferry to get checked in. The ferry was huge and to get to the passenger level you had to go up this tiny spiral staircase for about 5 floors. It didn’t help that there was distinct smell of urine as you climbed.
After finding a place to sit I went outside to explore. I love riding on ferries and boats and just being on the ocean in general. The weather was cold but clear, with a few clouds. But the wind was particularly strong and nearly blew me off my feet a few times.
The trip took 3hrs and was pretty typical until we reached the top of the South Island. The weather completely cleared and the views were spectacular. I felt like I was pulling into a bay in Scotland or somewhere else as wild. It was stunning. While I was outside I chatted with a Canadian girl and we exchanged travel stories as we stared in awe at the passing scenery.
Picton is a tiny little coastal town and with the weather being perfect, you just wanted to pack up and move there. The hostel was like a second home with free tea and coffee, spices, oil and big cushy chairs where ever you looked. There was also a fireplace and free hot water bottles. Just the place to try recover from this chest cough that was sounding more and more like my lungs were trying to crawl their way out of my chest. The best part about Sequoia Hostel was the free hot chocolate pudding cake and icecream every night. There is heaven in a hostel.
After making a store run for food, I settled into one of the chairs with a sandwich and some tea and just chilled for the whole day. The weather was heart-breakingly perfect, but all I could do was sit and watch the clear blue sky.
South Africa vs Namibia
That night was the South Africa / Namibia game in the TV room. The room was crowded and everyone had chips, cookies and drinks to share. I filled a bowl with biltong and brought in my saved castle lager beer from the Ekhaya suite. It was a great game but a complete walkover. By 50 – 0 we all started hoping that Namibia would score at least a penalty. My favorite part of the game was when the South African player, nicknamed the “Beast” due to his sheer size, literally ran over a tiny Namibian player. Kudos to the Namibian he stood down the charge and it was quite frightening watching it on tv. If anyone wondered what a charging buffalo looks like just watch this clip:
The Beast Runs over Namibian
We finally ended the game with the highest score so far in the Rugby World Cup, 87 – 0. Ouch!
I chatted with a couple of the folks watching and they all tried to convince me to come kayaking the next day. Andre, a fellow saffer, offered to give me a ride to Nelson on Saturday as I would have missed the planned Magic Bus ride in the morning. I said I would have to see how I felt in the morning as my hacking cough might overturn us, and none of us could convince Andre to do all the paddling.
To Kayak or Not to Kayak
In the morning I still felt shitty and when I went into the kitchen I found Andre having breakfast. I told him sorry but would have to decline the kayaking. He said his plans had changed and he would be heading to Nelson that afternoon if I still wanted a ride. I contemplated and realised since I had not started my route on the Magic Bus it would not cause an interruption. Plus, since he was heading all the way to Christchurch I could just hitch a ride with him and then start from there, the same town I would be flying out of. This meant I would not miss out on a section of the route. So what the hell, I decided it would be pretty cool to do some of the coast line, renowned for its beauty, with Andre and his car.
I spent the morning chatting with folks and making some bracelets. The girls, Freya and Jen, headed off on the Magic Bus at noon. Around 1pm, Andre returned and we got all our gear packed in. He point blank refused to take any money for gas as he was heading in that direction, but I did promise to buy a beer.
Heading along the Queen Charlotte Highway
The drive was spectacular and the weather was perfect, again. Am really liking the South island so far.
Andre is a geologist for one of the largest gold mining companies in Africa, so it was really interesting driving with him and discussing the different geological features. We chatted about growing up in South Africa, about uplift and earthquakes and rugby. A great 5hr drive.
Arriving in Nelson, the sunniest city in New Zealand, Andre dropped me off at the hostel and we planned to meet up in the morning to drive into Abel Tasman National Park. That evening the hostel, the sister of Sequoia, also had free pudding and icecream. Just delightful as both items are a luxury for a backpacker.
It turned out our German mate, Lissy, was still in Nelson and so we met up with her at her hostel down the road after pudding. The Paradiso hostel was pretty sweet and they had free soup and bread. Since it was cheaper we decided to move over there for the next night. We were all exhausted so it was an early night.
Change of Plans
Woke up feeling crappy, this was becoming a bit too much of a habit. After we moved hostels we still hadn’t heard from Andre concerning the Abel Tasman trip. The girls managed to borrow someones van and headed into the park themselves. I did not fancy hiking around for hours so decided to just wander around the saturday market, meant to be one of the best in New Zealand.
Saturday Markets and Tunic Dresses
The Market was fantastic, there were tons of stalls and food and homemade products all over. I walked passed a clothes stall and some of the little tunic like dresses caught my eye. But they were $60 and so I walked away. However, all that happened was that I walked in a large circle and found myself back there staring at the dress. The seller came over and suggested I try one on…just to see. As I pulled the one that had caught my eye on, it “hugged” my figure and the lady exclaimed “you have such a nice Goddess Ass!”. Ahh schucks I think she had me sold right there and then. She felt a different dress would look nicer and went over and pulled one out with some funky colors that looked like it was made in the 60’s. It was so not me that it was me and when I tried it on, I knew I was about to lose a few nights stay at a hostel. I was able to get a $5 discount but that was all. It all was worth it when I got back and put on some tights and my little tunic dress, it was super comfy and just made me feel good.
Andre had finally got back to me around noon saying they had had an epic night and only just surfaced. But we still planned to head out to Franz Josef the next morning.
Luckily with starting the Magic Bus in Christchurch it meant that I would be around again and be able to do Abel Tasman then, hopefully.