At my arrival to Nelson, I met up with Arcadia and drove together to Motueka. We would be sleeping there for a couple of nights to get our trek organised and then hitting the national park Abel Tasman.
At our arrival, it took us a while to figure out the places where we could sleep and the distances we could manage in a day. Plus, we needed to take into account the tidal crossings and the low tide times. It was like a puzzle, I felt like I was back to work. But I have a great interest in organising stuff, as many people know, and didn’t take that long to figure that we would have to sleep in places far from the first popular stop and it would have to be closer to the beginning than the end. We could fill in the time with a side trip to some pools and take it from there. We broke the trek in 3 days and a bit and 3 nights.
Once organised, the only thing that was left to do was a big shopping to cover the days in the park. Everything had to be caloric, super light and last for a few days. Of course we didn’t have anything to cook, so that was narrowing our options. By the time the groceries were done, we were quite satisfied with the results, although we would find out later that we made a mistake and didn’t take any food for the last dinner or enough bread in general and we would have a bit of a hard time counting portions and rationing everything to get through.
Next day we met Isabelle and ventured ourselves in Abel Tasman, leaving all our stuff in the car and taking in our backpacks only the essentials: lots of water, as filtered water was not available everywhere; food, sleeping bags, tents, flip flops, some warm stuff for the nights, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and toilet paper, a lantern and a few more things that are useful when camping. That was heavy enough.
The first day of our trekking was amazing and we could see a lot of greens. By midday we arrived to our campsite: a nice small beach full of kayakers that would be gone later on. We assembled our tents on the sand and left our stuff inside to go to check the Cleopatra Pools. I didn’t know what to expect and as usual in these cases, it was a surprise. It was a river with some nice rocks scattered around. The water was freezing and we managed to keep our feet almost dry. We had a lovely snack around there and got back to our camp while I was admiring the fluffy stuff that grew next to the track and the change of scenery from the main track.
On the way back to our beach, Isabelle and I explored some other beach next to us and end up walking on some rocks to reach our beach instead of going all the way uphill. In our beach, there were a couple camping with us and that was it. It gave us the feeling of having a quite unique experience. We moved our tents back up, to avoid get too wet at night and had dinner under a tree in a picnic area. When it was dark enough, I couldn’t wait to go to the beach and see the sky. It was amazing, as I remembered when I was in dessert in Rajastan. I could easily see the Milky Way but… there was a difference: I spotted Orion upside down, with his sword hanging upwards and then I remembered I was in the Southern Hemisphere and that was the coolest thing ever, everything is different here! We also got to situate the Southern Cross, that indicates the South and tried to create a compass and orientate ourselves to decide where the sun would come up from. We were hanging on the beach talking about going to bed quite early when the most amazing and unexpected thing happened: there was some kind of luminosity on the horizon and under a cloud. Weirdly enough, there were not many stars around that area. And then, the moon rose from there, an almost full moon that floated upwards in the sky, extremely bright and yellow-orangish. I felt extremely excited and pronounced these famous words: “I don’t want to go home”. Life was happening, I was happy, fully happy and feeling entirely complete. It wasn’t time yet, there was so much more to see, so many more experiences like this one to have…
Unfortunately, next morning I didn’t wake up for sunrise. But I did feel the sun up early enough waking me up and saying to me it was time to get to move, and after a night sleeping through the sound of the waves, the morning beach was there waiting for me. The sun actually appeared by the ocean and the picture created was fantastic.
We had breakfast and got our stuff together to continue our way. The second day, the landscape changed a bit and although we kept enjoying the sights and the log beaches, the walk was a bit tougher than the previous day. We enjoyed a very not improvised lunch in a beach. The lunch consisted on different types of beans and sweet corn, all mixed in a bag because, who needs plates? The contrast of our hippie lunch against the paradisiacal beach was more than shocking, but who cares?
By mid afternoon, we reached our camp. This one was placed next to one of the great walk huts and it was bigger and crowded. The feeling was completely different from the one in the previous night, but we still got to the beach to gaze the stars and tried to see the “moonrise”. We were situating the East and waiting for the same time that it had happened the night before, but nothing. It was when we gave up and I was already inside my tent that Arcadia called me to see it. There were some mountains in an island in front of us and that is why the moon got to rise later. After seeing that, we could happily get back to sleep.
When we woke up next day, we were ready for our last full day of trekking. Breakfast was a bit miserable and the trek got a bit harder, but also more beautiful. There were a lot of uphill bits and after a while we got to some point where we could see the bay. I honestly think that was the best part of the whole trekking. The different shades of blue and turquoise in the ocean, together but not mixed somehow. I couldn’t stop taking pictures every two minutes, so I was left behind.
And by the time I was trying to catch up with the rest, going downhill, I twisted my ankle and could clearly hear ‘clac!’. Damn it. It hurt. Two minutes of walking in pain I reached the others, who were waiting for me. I wanted to get sick just thinking that I was in the middle of nowhere and nothing could really happen to me. But I couldn’t get sick either because there was not much food… Anyways, I had to walk until our next stop, the next hut where we would be chilling and waiting for the tides to go low, as we needed to cross. We would be there just chilling and enjoying the beach and the sun for a couple of hours or more and that was good for my ankle. After, we got our stuff and prepared to cross the bay. What I thought it would be just a bit of walking became into crossing rivers and stepping of a sea of shells and crabs. I was afraid that my stuff hanging from my backpack would get wet and had to put on the bottom of the bikini to cross or my only leggings would be also completely wet. The tidal cross took a long while and it felt like crossing the Red Sea with Moses. But we made it and we had to continue before it was getting dark to find our camp and set our tents. And so we did.
The third night was probably the least especial of all, I suppose because it was not a novelty anymore. Or maybe because my ankle hurt and I didn’t spend a really good night of sleep.
Anyways, the night passed and once we woke up, we finished all food that was left and got on our way to get done the tricky part of the trek: the part where we needed to get back to the parking where we left the car with our stuff. The part of the trek that was left lasted less than two hours and that was my fault considering I was moving slow. We arrived to the parking and the i site there and refused to take a super expensive water taxi. But it was Saturday morning and people were only getting in, not out. We waited for a bit for a bus but never arrived. And then we started hitchhiking, which was the initial plan. We tried together and then separated and then moved and tried together again. I suggested going to the next junction, 3km away to have more chances and while we were on our way, an auto caravan passed and stopped for us! Hurray! It was a French couple that were not allowed to take anybody in, basically because there was not supposed to be seated people inside, but they did for us. We were exceptionally lucky getting a hitch the three of us together at such an awkward time and day. And we were more than thankful when we saw the uphill curvy road that we would have had to climb.
It was time for lunch and also the birthday of one of our drivers and they decided to stop for lunch in a pub on the way. I was starving and we hadn’t had a hot meal in a very long time, so when I saw ribs and fries I couldn’t resist! We were hesitating after lunch on where and how to get a lift and keep our way, but this lovely couple was going on their way to Motueka and passing by the junction towards the entrance of the National Park and our car. We continued our way there and got to the junction, where we decided only Arcadia should try to get a lift while Isabelle and me hid and waited for her, as she was the one driving her car. She was picked in 10 minutes and came back to collect us and drive back to Motueka, where everything started. Once there, we put gas in the car and I picked all my stuff and said goodbye to the girls. We were separating. I would hitchhike to Nelson, a big town where I was decided to spend the night. It didn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes when a lovely old man stopped and picked me up. He was going to Nelson and was up for some chats! The funniest thing of all we talked was that he had been tested to find out where his origins were and he happened to have 3% of Spanish blood. I explained him about the Spanish seed left in the South of Ireland and he confirmed me that he had some great parent coming from Cork. There you are, my theory is valid. Then, he insisted in driving me to the door of the place I was staying in, because you know, we could even be related! Funny man.
When I first arrived to Nelson, I was decided to go to the hospital, which was very close to the hostel I was staying in and get my ankle checked. Better to be safe than to be sorry, I didn’t want a non-healed ankle being nasty in a few weeks or years. Once I found where I could be treated freely, according to my insurance, they took note of all that happened and kept me waiting. They kept me waiting for hours. And then, after more than 3 hours, it was 9pm and they came to say to me there were many people and they all would be treated before me because they were more urgent than me. Which I understand, but all I wanted was a bandage and someone to do it properly, as they were not willing to take X-rays based on the fact that I could walk. I ended up walking away the same way I came in, because there was something really urgent as well for me: a shower. I hadn’t taken a shower in 4 days and I really needed to feel the hot water effect.
I woke up the next day decided to hitchhike up to Christchurch. That would be like 8 hours by car straight. So, I would have to break the way in little bits. The first town on that direction was Richmond and I started asking people to take me there. In 20 minutes I was in the car of an Indian couple living in New Zealand and taking me to Richmond, where they were going. The first leg of the journey was quite easy. It got a bit more complicated and I couldn’t get many people stopping. Plus, the ones stopping were going on the other direction, back to Motueka. Then, I saw an i-site centre and decided to walk a bit up to there to ask about directions and a good place where I could hitchhike and they kindly pointed me to keep going a bit further until a roundabout, where I would have more cars coming from other place and therefore, more chances. Luckily, when I was walking, a man stopped and asked me where I was going. The situation was crazy: he was heading to the very South and was easy about the destination; he was making his way from Wellington, sleeping in camps and enjoying the driving, so he willing to take me pretty much anywhere. I asked him that maybe a good point in the middle for me and for him to get dropped was Hammer Springs. And he just was happy to go there, just like that. So, just like that I got 3 hours drive done that would get me closer to my final destination.
Mike and I quickly had a catch up and started talking. I suppose it was quite obvious that he was just looking for a bit of company. I remember how at the beginning he seemed to me a cool man and after a while I started realising that he was speaking quite slow and was a bit weird at times. He wanted to stop for a hot drink for me, but I wasn’t interested in spending money in a hot drink or wasting time. After a while, he stopped for a smoke and we kept going.
He drove me all the way to Hammer Springs and made sure he was leaving me in a good place and then he actually gave me his phone just in case I was not getting a lift to Christchurch and was getting stuck in there. Good man. After that, I looked for a nice spot outwards the town and started hitchhiking. But no luck for a long while. I changed a bit the location. But nothing still. After a very long while, a lovely old couple stopped and BINGO! They were going to Christchurch and more than keen on taking me. And they were absolutely lovely and actually offered me to stay with them and use of their bicycles and everything in case I had no arrangements made. But I was meeting up Anja at somebody’s house, where we would be doing Couchsurfing. I regretted that after, but I suppose I didn’t know by then. I kind of could imagine that the guy we would be couchsurfing with would be weird. But he was beyond that.
When I came in, he was just standing, letting introduce myself and doing pretty much all the work in the introduction. I have to invite myself to the house and ask where to leave my stuff and what to do in general. For a person with so many references and so used to doing couchsurfing, it was weird. The house was super nice, the walls were covered in thankful notes and drawings and he had a brilliant garden with lots of fruits and greenies. Plus, it was like a hostel because a bit later I would find out that there were another two girls in.
Anja arrived, we quickly fit in and although one of the girls staying commented me that she felt weird and wouldn’t stay in the house if there were no other girls around, I didn’t give the comment much importance and thought she was just being picky. She wasn’t. I spent there two nights and considering I actually spent there a full day not doing much but resting my ankle and chilling, I can confirm he was a weirdo. He was always short of words. I actually remember how he was checking my couchsurfing profile right in front of me while I was thinking: ‘I am here, just ask me!’. He would not engage in conversation and he was only openinh his mouth to tell us what we were doing wrong. I could understand how he was trying to live in a conservative way or he had his own way to things, but flexibility should be a must when you have so many people going through your house. He even kicked out one the girls in front of Anja and me to get another two different girls that evening. Everything was weird, but it was a nice clean place to fall in and have some rest and I am thankful for that. It served its purpose, definitely.
After two nights there, I couldn’t wait to get out firstly because I couldn’t stand to be around him and try so hard to fit in and understand him and being nice without any engament or recognition from him and secondly because I spent a whole day not doing anything and that’s is more than enough for me, another of those would kill me a get me desperate. In addition, I was more than excited to start the 10 days tour around the South Island with this company that was starting. I couldn’t wait to see what was expecting us, the kind of people we would share it with and to get more adventures in a different way: an organised way not done by me, for a change!