Hippies, Hikes, and a Crazy Guy

Trip Start Oct 13, 2010
Trip End Jun 20, 2011

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Where I stayed
Nelson City Holiday Park

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jill's Clever Interjections in Italics

October 28 - Day 11

After all the morning excitement (me heroically climbing he fence and fetching the rogue towel), we checked out of our parking lot in Wellington and drove down to the ferry terminal to board the 3-hour ride to the South Island. Aside from a group of bikers with tattoos all over their bodies and faces sitting next to us for the first half-hour of the trip, (I really wanted to take a picture but thought that I shouldn't test Joe's manliness twice in one morning as he inevitably would've had to defend me against the rough biker guys post picture taking!) it was otherwise uneventful. As we got closer though, we passed a bunch of islands called the Marlborough Sounds which were pretty awesome to see, so we braved the wind & cold and went onto the outside deck for a while.

Tonight we'll be staying in Nelson, a quaint, laid-back, hippie-ish town set in the middle of Marlborough wine country....mostly Sauvignon Blanc. The drive there was pretty awesome....passing by vineyard after vineyard on brilliant green, rolling hils with mountain backdrops.

By the time we got to Nelson that evening, we were tired, hungry, and trying to figure out why our van smelled like a small animal had died in it. Thankfully for all you animal-lovers out there, that was not the case, but we did locate the problem - a disgustingly mouldy water reservoir - and Jill cleaned it while I did something incredibly useful (I'm sure) that I can't seem to remember. After dinner and chatting with some British travellers we met in the kitchen, we called it a night.

October 29 - Day 12

After breakfast this morning, Jill was startled by the sounds coming from a house right above our camp site (note: campsites here can be set right near towns and not in the back of beyond like in North America). Some dude was apparently completely losing it with is girlfriend or wife. He was yelling at the top of his lungs - a string of obscenities and nasty, hateful name-calling that would make any sailor blush. We were both frozen, listening partly with morbid curiosity and partly to detect whether it was going to get physical and if we needed to do someting about it. By the time we were ready to get going for the day, the screaming hadn't stopped (about an hour at this point), so we decided to advise the lady at reception. Her reply: "Oh is he at it again?!? I'll give him a call and tell him to settle down. He acts up now and then but is just talking to himself. I'll tell him to quiet down or else warn him that I'll call the police again." We walked out of the office looking at each other, as she seemingly called the guy from memory....are you serious? She knows the number! Anyway, we were glad that nobody was getting verbally abused, but maybe slightly disturbed that a crazy man was living in a house overlooking our campsite. (Side note: Later on that day when we returned, the lady told us that she spoke to him and that he was just "yelling at his computer". Hard to believe that he would yell at it for an hour straight at the top of his lungs, but whatever....we got a good laugh out of it.)

We got to see and speak to our parents on skype today. My Dad's birthday is on the 28th, which is the 29th here (17 hours ahead believe it or not), so we called them at my sister's house right after they enjoyed LobsterFest 2010. Was great to see everyone and happy birthday Dad! I left Jill a solid 4 minutes of internet time to speak to her Mom. What a swell guy I am.

Rest of day was spent just exploring the town - checking out the cathedral, parks, squares, cafes, and then hitting the grocery store for our dinner. BBQ lamb chops, grilled veggies and potatoes...not a bad campsite meal, huh? This would be another example of how we're just fake backpackers. Oh...and we also worked out before dinner...not backpacker-like whatsoever.

October 30 - Day 13

Scraped ourselves out of our luxurious double bed in the van in time to check out Nelson's Saturday morning market. Lots of cool stuff here, including fresh NZ produce and arts and crafty stuff. (I Loooove the markets. Reminds me of Saturdays on Whyte Ave back home!) Jill found a cool ring made out of recycled china while I fuelled up on caffeine. Rest of day was pretty chilled out and uneventful, though we did sit in a park for about an hour watching a couple of cricket matches...weird game...pretty boring actually, but it was a nice day and what else do we have to do really? And it was nice just to sit back and relax for a bit.

After hanging out at the camp site and procrastinating on our plans to go out that night, we finally cleaned ourselves up and headed out around 9:30...both pretty starved as we hadn't eaten dinner yet. There was a big rugby match on tonight between the All Blacks (NZ) and The Wallabies (Australia), so we thought it would be cool to watch it. We figured it would be on everywhere but the first couple of places we checked out were barely showing it - maybe on a small corner TV with no volume. In one place we almost walked through the side door right onto the stage where an older guitar duo was playing classic rock covers - had we actually made it onto the sparsely-filled dancefloor, we would have actually felt like young whippersnappers in that crowd.

We finally spot a sports bar that looks pretty hopping, as deduced by the 3 bouncers out front. We walk into the crowded pub to witness the game being projected onto THE largest screen that we've EVER seen in a bar. Cool! We're also advised that the kitchen is now closed. NOT so cool. Oh well....liquid dinner it is then! I snake my way through the crowd to the bar to get us some drinks. I'm honestly not gone more than 5 minutes when I return to find some drunk guy hitting on Jill....wow, kiwis work fast! (OR I look extremely good in leggings and sneakers! Yep, somewhat of a limited wardrobe!) We soon became "friends" as he explained to us the history and intricacies of rugby (along with various other topics) and then his expected drinks bill doubled as he bought both Jill and myself a NZ staple drink - Jim Beam and L&P (L&P is a NZ-made soft drink - now owned by big, bad, Coca-Cola)...wasn't too bad actually! Anyway, the night ended disappointingly for the crowd (including our inebriated kiwi friend) as the Aussies scored a try with about a minute left in the match to steal it from the All Blacks. We finished up our drinks and took off around midnight - gotta get up early tomorrow for a big hike.

October 31 - Day 14 - Abel Tasman

Leaving Nelson today and up early to drive out to Abel Tasman National Park for a day of hiking - supposed to have some of the best hiking trails in the country. The route we chose involved us taking a water taxi to a beach called Tonga and then hiking the 4-hour trail to another beach called Torrent Bay where we'd be picked up by water taxi again. The whole water taxi system was pretty cool....we boarded the boat at the company's office and then were towed to the beach via tractor, right into the water.

The boat ride out was extremely choppy. I was giggling and laughing throughout the trip as the boat dipped, dropped and thumped through the waves. It was great, and reminded me of an amusment ride! The funniest part to me, was noticing a set of 3 year old twins that slept peacefully in the arms of their white knuckled parents the entire time!

On the way to Tonga by water taxi, we stopped off at a seal colony to watch the fat little guys sunning themselves on the rocks and taking the occassional swim. The hike itself was really nice - lots of great look-out points, waterfalls, beaches, freaky trees, streams, and of course, the obligatory swing bridge. Jill had a good laugh as I scurried across it, muttering bad words to myself.

We camped in a town called Motueka and were starved by the time we checked in. There was a spa pool at the campsite though, so we figured it would be great to soak our muscles in it before getting some grub, despite my hunger-induced grumpiness. Grumpiness = understatement of the year! I'll take it from here... Walking back from the spa pool, as we came within view of our van both Joe and I stopped in our tracks. "Are you kidding me?!" In this huge vacant campground with open grass everywhere, a tent had set up 4 feet away from our little van. And the kicker, was that the couple had set it up closer to our vehicle than their own! Totally NOT Cool! Joe was just relieved that I agreed with him, and that it wasn't just another thing that was annoying him just because he was starving. As Joe and I continued to the van we felt as though our distaste for their tent placement was well communicated with a swift relocation of our little house on wheels.

After showers, we walked into town and had dinner at a place called Hot Mama's Cafe - build your own burger....yum. The place was near-empty, but there was a crazy customer originally from Sherbrooke, Quebec at the bar who chatted with us throughout our dinner. She gave helicopter tours in NZ for a living and also initially introduced herself as an alcoholic and child-molester. We laughed awkwardly and later found out that the latter description was in reference to the age gap in her current "relationship" rather than anything more serious. The former description appeared to be pretty accurate.

Happy with our meals and wine at Hot Mama's, we walked back to our campsite and into our awaiting van. Tomorrow we're on the road again heading to the Franz Josef and Fox Glaiciers...should be a good time! Bye for now...
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bossyboots on

This is so cool -- I swear we took almost the same path. We stayed in Motueka, took the same water taxi, did a hike from Torrent Bay and checked out the Pancake Rocks. Reading your blog is like a (much funnier) trip down memory lane! :) Hope you are planning to hike the FJ Glacier!! Be safe and have fun...there's no place on earth like NZ, imho. xo HP

andy on

beautiful pictures, Jill! beautiful thick goatee, Joe!

andy on

... i mean beard. you officially hipster if you get some thick frame glasses.

Heather Pitt on

Wow you guys have some great photo's. National Geographic has nothing on you. :o)

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