A weekend of adventure!

Trip Start Jan 11, 2011
Trip End Jul 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
Takaka Hill
Harwood's Hole
Pohara Beach
The Grove
Paynes Ford

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hi Everyone!

I'm really sorry this time for the delay in an update on my adventures. But I can't promise that it won't happen again. I have great intentions of writing at least once a week but every time I plan to sit down in front of the computer, the sun comes out. I can't bring myself to stay inside when the weather is so outstanding outside! So I compromise with myself that I will write once it gets dark, but then I forget that it doesn't get dark until after 9 and by then I am usually starting my nightly discussion with Mable (my flat mate). I have learned a lot from Mable (she has a few life lessons to share at 92 years old). :)
I write to you today (30/1/11),though, because I have burnt myself out with an attempt to tramp up Mt Arthur (the highest peak near Nelson at 1795m or just a little over a mile high) earlier this morning. But that is a story for another entry. I have so much to catch up on from last weekend and my trip to Golden Bay.
Brendon and Sonja were amazing to include me in their camping adventure last weekend (22/1-23/1), although I think having me along gave them some entertainment! :)
We started out our adventure Saturday morning around 11. Sonja and Brendon were very nice to take me by the electronics store to get a cell phone. It was so easy and inexpensive to get one! I'm still not sure why the US doesn't make things as simple. After that quick stop, we were on our way to Takaka but not before Sonja and Brendon realized that they forgot "The Book". Since I have arrived in NZ about 2 1/2 weeks ago, I have heard the term "the book" coined to a couple of different works. I am getting quite an education! So far "the book" can mean a book of flora and fauna of New Zealand, The Lonely Planet travel guides (a book that I had never heard of but that so many people live by when traveling. I have checked out the volume for New Zealand and it is so much more than a travel guide. It is so helpful. I definitely recommend it to anyone traveling!), or a guide book to different rock climbing locations. The book to which Sonja and Brendon were referring was the rock climbing guide. Yes, rock climbing but that adventure didn't happen until the next day.
Our first stop on our weekend camping adventure was the top of Takaka Hill (don't be fooled by the term hill. I'm pretty sure this hill is taller than the Appalachian Mountains). The road up the hill was a classic, windy, ascending road. It was a fun roller coaster feeling! We turned off the main road just before the top of the hill to get to Canaan Downs Carpark. The gravel road to the carpark (part of Abel Tasman National Park) was also quite a roller coaster! Once there, we ate a quick lunch and then were on our way on foot. We walked to Hardwoods Hole, a huge hole (180m deep, the deepest vertical shaft in New Zealand) in the limestone foundation of Takaka Valley that leads to Starlight Cave (formed by Gorge Creek). The landscape of this area was stunning, new sites, sounds, and tastes! It was really amazing to see what water can do to the limestone rock but also how the plants have adapted to the ever changing ground beneath them. And there were quite a few different types of plants including palm trees, black ferns (huge ferns with black stems), huge beach trees, and the Horopito plant (a pepper tree that certainly does open up the sinuses and has its medicinal and cooking properties).
After walking back from Harwoods hole to the carpark, Brendon and Sonja headed on their way down Takaka Hill on their bikes while I headed down in the car. This is where the adventure really began! LOL! Brendon gave me his phone (as my phone wasn't charged yet) to call Sonja's phone once I got down the hill into the town of Takaka. I was to meet them at the Wholemeal Cafe in the center of town. Brendon's phone didn't have much charge left but I only needed it to call Sonja, or so I thought. So I jammed out to some great music, had a blast driving on the narrow gravel road, and an even better time driving the windy road down the hill. Unfortunately, though, my sense of direction seems to be just the same here in NZ as it is in the States. I ended up going down the wrong side of the hill! I didn't realize this until I got to the bottom and saw signs for Nelson again. I stopped at a service station to ask for directions. My inclination that I was headed the wrong way was correct so I got back in the car to simply head back the other way. Surprisingly I wasn't too stressed that I had gone the wrong way as I would have been back home (I am more relaxed about situations here in NZ. Everyone is more relaxed). I wasn't even too stressed out when the car wouldn't start again to head back the other way. I turned the key a few times without even a turnover! So I called Sonja and left a quick message explaining the situation in such a way that wouldn't worry them. I simply said that I had gone the wrong way down the hill, that I had pulled over to ask for directions, the car wouldn't start now, but that I would let them know when I got it started (like I knew how to fix it)! I don't know what I was thinking but I wasn't freaking out. NZ is having a good effect on me! :)
I was sitting in my car trying to think of something that I could do, when I nice man came to the door and asked if I was having car problems. Evidently it was obvious. I explained to the man my situation. He didn't really know what to do either but helped me at least first push my car out of the way (I had stopped at a pump as there wasn't any parking and someone had pulled up behind me). Then he suggested crash starting the car. By the name, I wasn't too sure about the idea but I couldn't think of anything else to do, and this man seemed to know what he was doing. I had a good distance to go in front of me, so he pushed me to a point when I could start the car in second gear. And it worked! Crazy, eh?! So I quickly called Sonja back to let her know that I got the car started, would never turn it off again, and was on my way back over the hill! The phone died before I could end the call.
So I thanked the man a million times and was on my way back over the hill. Needless to say I was comfortable driving by the end and I knew how to crash start a car!
I met up with Sonja and Brendon in Takaka no problem (once I was headed in the correct direction and the car started). They told me to turn off the car but of course then it wouldn't start again. But we were still lucky and had room in front of where I parked to crash start again. At that  point we knew that we had to get somewhere to charge the car battery. We finally stopped at a big campsite in Pohara Beach. Brendon and Sonja had meant to stay at a more rugged campsite for the night but this place had a battery charger which was more important. The campsite was pretty crowded with families but we made the most of it. I had my first fish n chips in NZ. It was soooo good!!! And we had a wonderful walk on the beach. The whole day hadn't really gone to plan but all in all still turned out to be a fantastic day!!!
We started off from the campsite relatively early the next morning. Brendon and Sonja first took me to a quick trek in a place called the Grove. It was a magical place. There were fields with sheep and cows all around us where we parked, but we only had to walk a few feet before we were in a lush forest with new sounds and smells. It was a whole new world! Magical! After the quick walk through the magical grove, we were off again, this time to Paynes Ford. This is where "the book" (the rock climbing guide) would have come in handy. Not only did Takaka Hill have lots of caves because of the limestone foundation, but it also had great natural climbing walls. Brendon and Sonja were especially nice to include me in the climbing. They talked me through what to do and let me borrow their equipment too. They even trusted me enough to b-line (the person who stands on the ground to take charge of letting the climber come down). It all was so much fun!!!! I am now addicted to climbing. It was more than just brute strength. It was a mental puzzle as well. There is a climbing wall in Nelson. Sonja, Brendon, and I hope to go often.
My goal as I headed in to this weekend was to try new things, and I certainly did. I am finding out who I am and changing at the same time. It is a great and wonderful adventure and experience!!!

Until next time...:)

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Hannah on

What a crazy adventure!! Haven't you seen Little Miss Sunshine when they have to start the VW van in third gear? If you haven't you will find it hilarious after your experience!! This is surely an advantage to driving manual as a way to buy pass a dead battery. Rock climbing sounds like a lot of fun!! Hope you get to go again!

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