So Thurs (8th) morning we left at a ridiculous hour to go to Abel Tasmen. Liz and I were doing a different trip from Emily and Joe (with a guy called Chris they'd met on the Kiwi bus) but we were due to meet up that evening at the same campsite so all worked out well
. Off we went in the water taxi, spotting a penguin and some seals on route to a beautiful beach called Te Pukatea where the two of us were dropped off. The plan was to then head north along the coastal track to our campsite - due to take 4 hours. Well, we figured it being only 10am at that point that we could take our sweet time, so we just hung out on that beach chatting away and soaking up the sun quite contentedly. After an hour or so we figured we better begin the walk, so off we trot, spirits high. Our taxi driver had said we'd get to a place called Anchorage Bay where a river met the sea and a spit had formed a beach where we could either take the high tide route along the cliff tops or the shorter low tide route across the river, noting that we would probably get our feet a little wet on the low tide route, but that it wouldn't be anything major. Obviously when we arrive at the fork and see the high tide track heading uphill and the low tide going downhill, we choose the latter. What we had failed to consider was that we had been nancying around on the beach for an hour and so it wasn't quite low tide anymore... Well, first we were wading through shellfish infested mudflats where my trainers were literally sucked off my feet and I had to go barefoot. However, we soon realised we were going to have to wade through the river/sea in order to get to the spit. The sea was rushing in pretty fast by this point and we were up to our chests in water holding our bags with our cameras above our heads desperately trying not to be dragged off our feet
. As you may have guessed, we managed it and eventually reached the beach. We felt we deserved a kip here though and so promptly feel asleep for another hour or so. The rest of the walk was fairly uneventful, the high point was crossing a swing bridge and we finally strolled into the campsite area around 4:30pm. I think poor Emily had started to get quite concerned that something had happened to us as they'd arrived (from the north heading south) a good 2 hours earlier. Had a great evening that night after putting up our tent just sitting around chatting merrily to the few people who had arrived for the night. Went to bed after star gazing on the beach - perfect.
Unfortunately, I only put our food in the porch area of our tent. Had I thought about things properly, I would have brought in all in the tent with me as I went to bed, but all I can say is the zip was broken so I was having to clamber in through a relatively small gap in the top of the doorway, it was dark, I was trying not to wake Liz too much and ultimately I'm not that bright. An hour or so passes and something wakes me up as it scurries past me. Hmm...not happy. After a while I realise to my relief it's on the other side of the tent - in the porch and it's trying to get at our food. Possums. Bugger. They're aggressive little buggers I can tell you and much hissing, howling, scampering and the such soon ensued as other possums came to check out what all the fuss was about. I ashamedly woke Liz up as I was an insy bit scared, but she rightly pointed out all I succeeded in doing was scaring the both of us, and we both had a terrible night's sleep
. To give you an idea of the noise these guys were making, Liz was insisting they were not possums but actually pigs. To top things off I then needed the loo. Understandably I wasn't in her good books that night.
Fri (9th) we got up after a few precious hours sleep, packed up our gear and was then met by our guide for the day who we were going to kayak back to Kaiteriteri with. This part of the trip was done as a group and so Emily, Joe and Chris were with us together with a lovely guy called Keith and an English couple. I must say it was a pretty hard slog back - a good 6 hours or so on the water (20km), with a break for lunch at Te Pukatea again where we played frisbee and I managed to get in the sea briefly. At one point we lined our six kayaks up in 2 rows of three and used a huge sail to carry us along. A great way to get about, but unfortunately the wind turned towards the end of the day and the last stretch across a couple of bays was pretty hard going. It was absolutely beautiful though and everyone had a great time. That night back at Nelson was a pretty quiet one as everyone was pretty knackered.
Sat (10th) I pottered about town a little and then went off up a hill on the outskirts of town, whose summit claims to be the centre of New Zealand. Actually, the centre was something like 65km southwest of this point, but I didn't find that out till after reaching the top. I met up with the Liz again that night, Emily and Joe having headed off a day early along the west coast. Met a small group of great people and went out that night in town. Good times...
Weds (7th) I arrive in Nelson in the early afternoon and check into a really nice hostel with large pool, sauna and spa. My kind of hostel. I was staying in a 10 bed dorm which usually spells disaster area, but the girls in my room were really friendly and there was plenty of storage space so all was grand. I met up with Liz that afternoon and we booked on to a 2 day / 1 night trip into Abel Tasmen National Park for the following day. We decided to treat ourselves then and went out for an Indian meal - my first in 3 months. It was pretty damn good. That's another reason I could never live in Australia - they don't have any proper Indian restaurants.