A Brief Interlude

Trip Start Jan 15, 2011
Trip End Mar 19, 2011

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Where I stayed
White Elephant Backpackers

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Sunday, February 13, 2011

Leaving Rongo, we wove our way over the mountains once again and eventually found ourselves in the city of Motueka. Our drive there consisted of little excitement. Aside from a good meal and a warm cup of coffee, there isn't much to tell. As it was, we were happy to arrive at White Elephant Backpackers since we were anxious to get clean and pack up for the next day.

White Elephant was a lovely place. The building had an old southern feel and the grounds contained several fruit trees. When I gave my name and got our room assignment we were a bit flummoxed. They gave us a double en suite. Neither one of us remembered booking an en suite room, but there was the key sitting in my hand. And the price for it was surprising low. It was less than all the other doubles we'd booked on our trip. It was like we’d won the lottery!

Through the kitchen was the door to our room. On entering, we let out a big fat sigh of delight. Our own patio?! And our very own bathroom?! What a joy! You forget how wonderful bathrooms can be until you’re sharing them with twenty other people. We eagerly took showers and then stretched our legs while strolling about the grounds. Right above our patio was a kiwi fruit tree. Loads of fruit dangled above but none were ripe enough to pick. However, just a few feet away, an apple tree grew with tons of apples ready to be plucked. These apples were delicious!!! I love apples, but when they’re fresh from a tree? Heaven. And these apples were exceptionally angelic.

Shortly thereafter, we heated up our dinner and ate on the patio. It wasn’t a secluded patio; there were other backpackers on the deck next to us, off of the kitchen. But it was lovely all the same. Our dessert: Fresh apples from the tree with Nutella on them! Delectable! Well fed and rested from the long drive, we dove into packing for Abel Tasman. Previous research told us that Abel Tasman National Park was a must see on the south island, and that the Abel Tasman coastal track was one of the "Great Walks" of New Zealand that shouldn’t be missed. Everything we’d read told us that kayaking was the best way to experience it, and several people we’d met thus far told us that Abel Tasman was their favorite place to visit. We were starting to get excited.

Our trip would consist of two days kayaking up the coast followed by a third day of hiking. We’d camp for three nights total and get picked up by a water taxi on the fourth day. Neither of us had any substantial kayaking experience other than renting one every now and again. Sea kayaking, specifically, was uncharted territory.

With great calculation and excessive forethought we gathered all that we’d need for the four day trip, sliding each item into its designated place. Hopefully everything would fit in the kayak, but we didn’t worry about that. We’d find out on the morrow. In that moment all that mattered was some sound sleep, especially after the difficulties of the previous night when Dance Dance Revolution was playing outside our window.

The lights switched off, but our bodies did not. Unfortunately, all the backpackers that were banging about in the kitchen that evening were now outside our sliding glass door talking, drinking, and laughing on the patio. If they’d been speaking English I could’ve easily followed their conversation. This late night reveling went on and on and on. In the kitchen, back outside – back and forth they went, the noise with them, boxing us in on all sides. And once it finally died down what do we hear but some mysterious animal gnawing on a tree outside the window…the window right next to our heads. Its crunching continued my sleep deprivation well into the night.

I’m not sure how much I slept. We got up at 6:30 A.M. My estimate: Around three hours.

Oh, White Elephant, I was so excited to meet you! Why must your walls be so thin? Now I understand why that room was so cheap.

Author’s Note:

Since this entry is so short and, well, boring, I’ve decided to use this time to jot down some random thoughts both Katie and I drummed up during our trip. So here we go…

We never expected to be such foodies on vacation. Our plan was to simply try native foods. Yes, we’ve had our venison pie, our green lipped mussels, our lamb with mint sauce, but on top of all that I’ve been obsessed with trying ice cream everywhere we go and we’ve both dedicated ourselves to tasting every ginger beer brand there is. Our favorite is still Bunderberg, which is happily available in the states!

What is with the crazy water pressure in New Zealand?! Every time I turn on a faucet I’m unexpectedly blasted with water, and it’s not like I’m cranking the thing. It’s been over a month and I still haven’t learned my lesson. I guess I’m doomed to walk around with a wet shirt.

I’m saddened to know that my twenties could’ve been filled with traveling/working abroad indefinitely. Why did this not occur to me? All these young spring chickens are seeing the world! Then again, I have "stability" and a clean head of hair, which goes a long way when it comes to happiness.

New Zealand has it covered when it comes to public restroom availability. You’re never at a loss for one. Not only are they in cafes and restaurants, open to the public, but the bathrooms on the street are impeccable. You’d think they’d be nasty, but they’re clean and have full hand washing facilities. Plus, some play music and even talk to you!

Allegedly, there is no tipping in New Zealand. Isn’t that wonderful?! Yet…I’ve noticed a strange amount of tip jars around. I think the wait staff are attempting a transition.

I want more vinegar on my fish and chips! This was never a problem in Scotland.

Jars are sealed tighter in New Zealand. Usually, I can twist off those air-tight jars with moderate effort, and I always have Katie there for backup. But here it’s been a struggle. All the usual methods have resulted in failure and Katie has had to use every ounce of strength, coming close to popping a vein, when twisting off the lids. Maybe Kiwis are just stronger?

And finally…

Why are there so many Germans here?! Was there some kind of New Zealand tourism push in Germany that I’m unaware of? Maybe a secret plot to overthrow the country? Note to New Zealand: Be on the lookout for wienerschnitzel and strudel.

UPDATE! Alice and Katie are now embarking on a Round the World trip!
Visit aliceintraveland.com to follow along on their continuing

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mary lou on

i love your random thoughts on your trip so far; the food issues always turn up to be more predominant than you expect, don't they? I remember daily "torte time" during my college summer in Europe with my roommate Nancy -- my trip journal documented every delicious pastry we ate. Go for the ice cream world record!! xxoo to you both, Mom

Dad on

Chuck alerted to me to an earthquake at Christchurch today. Did the earthquake affect your trip and/or did you feel the earthquake at all? Were concerned for your safety, and based on the map, you should have been some distance away from Christchurch when the earthquake occurred. We enjoy your blog, especially the little things that you deal with on your trip. Travel safely.

sawah on

interesting re: 'could have traveled indefinitely' etc --------- looking forward to more musings on the pro's & con's upon return. glad you're there now, for sure. :)

jenngregs on

It does look like you're pretty far from Christchurch, but looks like they had some real damage! Did you see the Christchurch Cathedral when you were there at the start? I can't remember.. hope so, because the spire is gone!


aknztrip on

Don't worry, everyone. We are currently in Wellington and we are fine. The earthquake didn't affect us. What's happened in Christchurch is heartbreaking. A sad day here in New Zealand.

James on

Hi Alice,
Enjoy Wellington, make sure you go up to the top of Mt Victoria, the view is amazing, especially at night. Maybe you can go swimming at Oriental Parade if the weather is nice?
Glad you were far form Chch, my cousin lives close by and was/is still pretty scared.

Anne S. on

I love that about the toilets. It's good to know that if I ever go there that I won't have to worry about getting to a bathroom easily : )

rnf2 on

As an Expat Kiwi working here in China... I miss the copious public restrooms... the smells here are like an open cesspit! and they're just porcelain holes in the floor! many with no flush, just an old man with a bucket that must only wash the logs down the pipe once a day!
Home is so much sweeter :P

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