Ready, Willing and Abel

Trip Start Jun 04, 2009
Trip End Sep 06, 2010

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Monday, April 12, 2010

Good Morning Everyone,

We were awoken this morning by a strange sensation, the whole tent seemed to be glowing to the point it hurt our eyes. Could it be true? Yes, the sun was finally shining!  What a relief to actually do what we wanted to with the day without rain stopping play.  We signed up for another night camping outside the same hostel so that we could go a day with driving and explore the area properly.  First off we visited the main attraction in town, the Hamner Springs Hot pools, a network of about 14 different thermal pools of varying temperatures which were a great way to relax and watch the last of the clouds disappear to give us a beautiful alpine fresh, blue sky day.  After we dried off we walked up Conical Hill for some stunning views of the mountains all around and tried out our macro stills on the unsuspecting toadstools that lined the path up.

That evening in the hostel was very different to the last, we were one of only two couples staying that night so it seemed rather odd to be camping outside an empty hostel.  Odd, but cheap!  Also with only a few of us around it was harder to cover up Steve's level of consumption of the free ice cream.  I fear the owner may put an end to the treat after realizing just how much ice cream one guest can manage!  It was a freezing night but as we only had to endure the tent for sleeping and had the hostel as a refuge it wasn’t quite so daunting.  Once again the hostel owner came to our aid and gave us some hot water bottles for the night - what a top bloke. 

When we woke up the car and ground were frozen and frosty so we gained hero points from the others at the hostel for braving the tent and a final bit of chocolate cake and ice cream for breakfast to see us on our way.  We decided to change our route so we could make the best of the weather and so we headed north to the Abel Tasman where we decided to do a one day hike along the coastline.  On our drive we were again on a mountain pass but this time with a lot more luck with the weather and had a great chance to stop for photos where the long grass was being hit by the sun and turning from deep frost into pretty water droplets.  It’s just this kind of thing that I’d completely overlook in England but loved spending half an hour just sitting in the wet grass and sunshine taking photos and feeling privileged to have the time to appreciate and try to capture nature in its fleeting glory.

The next morning we were raring to get on with our 47km day walk along the coast at the very north of the South Island.  We’d picked a beautiful day for it with sparkling blue skies meeting the azure blue waters of the Tasman Sea.  We got a water taxi from Marahau, where we camped the night before, to take us an hour up the coastline and drop us off so we could walk back taking in the beaches along the way.  Steve was particularly excited to do some coast walking as he bought some 'amphibious’ shoes that allow him to walk in water without them getting wet, particularly handy when we walked out onto a sand spit to have our picnic lunch and got cut off by the tide.  While I offered to take my shoes off and wade across Steve turned on his heroic side and put his shoes to the test by fireman’s lifting me away from danger (If Steve later tells you I refused to get my feet wet, it’s a lie!).  The next part of the walk was across a very long stretch of beach exposed by the low tide and little did we know at the time but we’d have at least 10 more water crossings to get us to the track again.  When it looked like just one more Steve agreed as he’d carried me once he could do it again but then by the time we’d come to the sixth or seventh crossing we’d come too far with me having dry feet to get them wet now and yet I could see Steve was starting to regret his initial act of chivalry!  I’m pleased to say that my hero did manage to carry me the whole way in the end, everyone else on the track must have thought I was a spoiled brat though!

The walk was beautiful and a great change for us to be able to see another stunning aspect of New Zealand away from the mountains.  By the time we got back to the car we were shattered but ploughed on to Nelson for the night where we agreed to splurge on a hostel room to crash out in and recuperate.  In the next couple of days we were planning to head to Kaikoura to do a dolphin swim and we were told we could hire an underwater camera for the day for $45 – perfectly reasonable really.  However somehow between us we managed to rationalize that if we bought an underwater camera instead of renting one we’d be able to use it in Australia and Asia too and that would be more worth our while.  This all made sense when we were talking about one for $199 but instead we talked ourselves into buying one for $420!!  This means two things, firstly we are now traveling with 5 camera’s, that’s more cameras than the number of pants Steve has with him.  Second of all our daily budget is $6 each for campsites and $3 each for food so our priorities seem to be a bit skewed when it comes to photography!  (Luckily I did apply my sales skills to the situation and talked him down from $699 to $420 which was the staff discounted rate – whether we needed a camera that fancy to add to our adopted family is neither here nor there, a bargain is a bargain!).

Between camera shops we found time to fit in a walk up a hill in town to stand at the Centre of New Zealand and take in the views of Nelson and the bay all the way across to the Abel Tasman where we were the day before.  Armed with our new addition to the traveling clan we headed off to a campsite along the East Coast driving through the Molbourough vineyards as the sunset and watching big flocks of birds soaring around as they migrated across the mountains.  Driving can be a fun part of the day too!  We spent so long stopping for sunset views that we had to put our tent up in the dark just as my torch batteries gave up so we had a dark dinner but a great star gazing evening and slept like children on Christmas Eve thinking about out dolphin swim the next morning, but that’s another story…

Lots of Love,

Amy and Spending Steve
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