6 months down!!!
I have been travelling since 5th September!! That’s 6 months!! It has been quite an experience and I hope there are a lot of places yet to visit! We are now in the North of the South Island at Abel Tasman National Park. - It is a beautiful part of the country.
We arrived last night and settled quickly into our camp site – Old Macdonalds farm.
A couple of people couldn’t be arsed with tents and upgraded to cabins, but most people set up their tents in a circle of sorts and had their tents up pretty quickly -Except for Miranda, who an hour after we got here was still sitting around drinking wine and waiting for her tent to finish itself off!!
The evening went along the usual lines of dinner followed by a few drinks and some daft conversation and games. We all had a reasonably early night and were all in our tents before midnight. It was a fine night when we went to bed, but the people who upgraded were pleased to see that it absolutely lashed it down during the night. We all stayed dry though and were even pleased to get an alarm call at 5am from the cockerel that lives here on the camp site!! I actually didn’t mind as I had slept really well and enjoyed the early morning call, before getting back to sleep.
In the morning a load of people got up early and set off for a days kayaking. Others sat around for the day before skydiving around teatime, while myself, Buffy, Fiona, and Stefan headed off for a ride on a water taxi. It sounds really lame, but the water taxis here have the biggest engines I have seen on a small boat, they sit 18 passengers and zip up and down the coast at speeds of around 50kmh. It is a really good ride and you get to see all the coast line that the kayakers see, plus a whole lot more, for $65 and in under 3 hours leaving the afternoon free to relax and get on with something else. Whilst we were on the boat an old couple got on with a young baby. One of us who shall not be named came out with a comment that the baby looked like a 'Gnome Baby', like it should have a fishing rod and be sat by a pond. This soon became a story about how the old couple bought the Gnome Baby off the internet at 'Gnomebaby.com', where there are pictures of loads of babies dressed as gnomes, ready for old couples to buy them and take them on speed boat trips (Because that’s what Gnome babies like – Speed boats!!) It was quite random and a few days later we are still talking about it!!!
Three hours was just long enough to get soaked down one side and dry down the other side as the boat crashed down and splashed everyone. When we got back, we all had a coffee and then decided to head back to camp. I sorted out my stuff and then got my running gear on and headed up the path into the Abel Tasman National park itself.
I ended up running along the track into the park – I was trying to get to apple bay beach, but I turned around after 4.8km, only to find out that the place I was heading for was 4.9km away and just around the next corner!! I ran into Buffy once on the way out and again as I ran the 4.8km back and nicked a few mouthfuls of water from her as she took a walk taking photos.
After the run a few of us sat around in the camp-site, doing laundry, checking out the internet and getting ready for a night out. It was Vinny, the bus drivers last night with us and in the morning we had bought a daft card to say thanks, so we all signed it and started a bit of a collection for him. He has been a really good laugh, but worked his arse off to ensure that we have had a great time. It got to 7.30pm and we all headed for a local burger joint that is run out of a trailer -Once again it sounds a bit shit, but the burgers range from a standard burger to a massive beef burger and a burger made from Mussels. I had fush and chups (I would say Fish and chips, but it is pronounced and spelt with a 'U', down here!) It was really good. After everyone had eaten I stood up and gave a little speech to thank Vinny from all of us, before we gave him the card and the tips we had collected. It was then a short walk straight down the road to a local bar for a few drinks, but when we arrived and waited for the rest of the group, they didn’t arrive! It turned out that somehow they had taken a wrong turn on a straight road and were heading up to the hills!! Vinny ran after them and brought them in, before we settled in for a couple of hours and had a really good night in there.
I headed home with a couple of the girls just after 11pm as the bar shut and most people sat around the kitchen area of the camp site till the early hours drinking what was left in the cooler box and generally having a great night.
In the morning there were quite a few heavy heads from the night before and Aidan was especially tired and had to be dragged out of his bed by Vinny 5 minutes before we were due to leave. We were heading north towards Nelson and Picton before our evening ferry to Wellington, so were happy when we stopped for a couple of hours in Nelson. It gave us all a chance to get some lunch and some fresh air. I wandered around with Aidan and Buffy trying to find a music shop to buy a fiddle, believe it or not!! They were all closed though, so we had a bit to eat before Buffy went to do some busking and me and Aidan met up with some of the others and spent a couple of hours wandering around town, stopping at a bakery for some hungry souls to eat cake and pies!
It was soon time to get back on the bus with our new driver, but we were pleasantly surprised to see Vinny arrive driving the bus again. It turns out that he had to take us all the way to Picton and may even be in Wellington later too, so we will never be rid of him!!
Back on the bus it was all quiet and peaceful as we headed north towards Picton.
We eventually arrived after an afternoons travelling and manages to bag good seats on the ferry as it left South Island. It was the beginning of the end as a few people are getting off in just 2 days when we reach Auckland. Its a real shame as we are really getting on well now and having a great time,. I will write a little about the people on the bus soon, but for now I will just get on with what is happening. As we left Picton we took in the sights and headed out of the bay towards North Island. There was a warning from the ferry captain that the sea was a little rough and as we left the bay we were not surprised to be hit by a few waves and the sea started to get a bit wild. There were a few big waves that hit the window at the front of the ferry as I sat and watched the video of Sandra's skydive from yesterday. The rest of the ferry ride was spent messing about and giving Buffy a foot rub while she tried to sleep. There were a few people feeling a bit rough because of the sea, but we all made it to Wellington without anyone being sick.
Once in Wellington I spotted a bloke with a sign saying 'Flying Kiwi' and organiswed everyone into the two 11 seater minibuses, with 3 people waiting for the first bus to return It was a short trip to the hostel where we got into our rooms after a lot of messing about with id's and payments at the front desk. Lindsey and Fiona managed eventually to get their single rooms after I had called the hostel earlier to organise it for them. (I really should be a tour guide!!)
I went down to the bar to watch the South Africa v England cricket and was joined by about half the bus for an hour or so. Everyone eventually went to bed except me, Todd and Michelle who watched an thrilling finale as England won the game by the skin of their teeth. It was then off to bed and a really good nights sleep!