To the South Island I go!

Trip Start Nov 21, 2008
Trip End Mar 31, 2010

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Where I stayed
Base Hostel

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

This morning we had to be on the bus at 6:45am to catch the ferry from Wellington on the North Island, to Picton on the South Island. The ferry was big and really nice, like a smaller version of a cruise ship. They had fairly nice seats that reclined but I couldn't fall asleep. I talked to a girl Gemma and we went out on the deck where it was incredibly windy. The view was beautiful. Large, lush mountains sprinkled throughout the water. I left the Kiwi Experience bus with lots of hugs and walked to the information center where a nice woman made all of the plans needed for my walk. Even though she explained it several times, I didn't realize until later how long and hard the track was going to be and started to feel nervous. Also my sleeping mat, which makes camping comfortable, sprang a microscopic hole in it causing it to deflate. I borrowed some super glue from a goofy local guy who lives in a bus in the campground I'm staying in but it didn't fix it. So I had to sleep on the hard ground, feeling sick from being around so many people in hostels and buses, and worrying about completing 27k's in a day.
After making the plans for the walk I sat on a strip of grass by the boardwalk and ate some lunch (I carry around some groceries to save money and eat large amounts of PB&J sandwiches). The mountains silent in the distance, the bay with sailboats bobbing around. I talked briefly with an American girl, then started walking to the campsite where I would stay. I got about halfway there and a kind local took pity on me (I must look pretty ridiculous with the amount of stuff I carry) and drove me another 5 minutes to the campsite. Don't worry that's the only hitch-hiking I've done. I set up my tent and just relaxed for a while. A guy who has a huge bus came over and said Hi and remarked how insanely small my tent is, which is true, it's tiny.

The Big Day, or one of them.
Last night I had a very hard time sleeping, literally. It's near impossible to sleep comfortably or even at all when you can feel the hard ground underneath you pressing on your hip-bone and arm. Oh well. I lugged all of my earthly posessions to the water taxi location this morning. I left a bag there of stuff I won't need for the trip and they will drop off my backpack and camping gear at my campsite tonight and then I can leave it there in the morning for them to pick up again. I don't think I would want to do the walk if I had to carry my backpack. I enjoy the challenge of the walk but I also want to enjoy it. The guy at the water taxi place reassured me that I can do the distance I planned in two days, no problem. Even though it's longer than the Tongariro Crossing it is easier terrain. The water taxi place also had a sleeping mat for me to borrow so I don't have to sleep on the deflated mat of mine, sweet.
It's been raining or rather sprinkling this morning but it's supposed to clear up and already the sun is poking out....

April 19th, hiked the trail for two days, now leaving Picton
My fleece is so dirty and sweaty I don't mind lying it on the ground so I can sit on it and write while I wait for the ferry to port. I'm keeping my eles peeled for the bring green kiwi Experience bus so I can find my new group and head to Nelson. I'm glad that I did some research on my own and didn't just rely on the activities they try to sell you (they are biased after all since they most definitely get a kickback from all the business they create). My girlfriend back in Melbourne Suzy suggested the track and said it was easy to hike alond. The actual track was 71 kilometers and they suggested 3-5 days to complete it. I chose the track because you are able to do as little or as much as you want and they transfer your pack for you. When they dropped me off at the beginning of the track I kind of felt like I was being deserted on an island. The water taxi driver promised beers upon my arrival the next day. That first day was pretty easy with only one big hill at the beginning. I met a Canadian guy on the track and we walked and talked for the better part of the day to Ship's Cover where the campsite was located. There I found the group of high school girls who were camping next to me at the campsite the night before. The Ship's Cove Campground was strangely arranged and many of the spaces were muddy. There was one neat spot where the trees made a kind of cove and the ground was covered with leaves. You could even hear the waves lapping the shore. This was to be the North American camp site for the evening. There was a small bar about a 5 minute walk down the trail (Is it ruffing it if there's a bar?) so the Canadian guy and a German girl joined me for a couple beers on the dock outside the bar. On the walk back we noticed glow worms sticking to the side of the dirt wall along the path. They shone like blue stars. I walked 27kilometers in 6.5 hours that day so after a couple beers and sleep came easily.
The next day I started out in the morning and got lost, or went the wrong way two times. Plus I was feeling like I was in a rush since I had to be at Torea Bay at 4pm for my water taxi. The track info said 9 hours but they drastically over estimate walking times. Still I booked it all day. I have to admit the 2nd day was hard work and not fun. It was a lot of hills and down is just as hard as up sometimes. I'm kind of glad I was walking solo the second day because I wasn't in the mood for talking, I had to summon all of my energy for making it through. I made it to Torea Bay at 2:30, 5.5 hours after I started on the correct track, which is gret timing. I took a nap on the dock for 30 minutes. Then I still had an hour left and I had been dying for a cup of tea all day so I walked to the cafe that was part of a lodge 20 minutes away. By the time I got my ridiculously over priced sandwich I had to get it for take-away and rush like crazy to get back to the taxi dock on time. Not my idea of fun when I was extremley exhausted. There were beers on return though.
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