To celebrate the completion of our first course, two girls and I decided to take a road trip to Abel Tasman National Park. Rental car (aka The Jellybean) packed, leftovers for food, and no road map, we were in for an adventure. We eventually arrived after a wrong turn or two…or five, but nonetheless we made it. As we drove in, we were amazed at the number of boats just resting on sand with an anchor and buoy tied to them. We were even more amazed the next morning when we saw the boats floating in water. Come to find out, Abel Tasman has the greatest tidal variance in all of New Zealand. Within 6 hours, the tide changes a depth of 4 meters, about 13 feet!
We decided we’d spend Saturday hiking the national park. A water taxi took us up to Torrent Bay and dropped us off where we were to hike 8.5 miles to Onetahuti where we would then be picked up and brought back to the hostel in Manahau. Everywhere you looked, it seemed like you were the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the cool air quickly reminded me I wasn’t.
Okay, and so here’s the thing: New Zealand isn’t very good at marking trails with signs or arrows or anything that helps 3 directionally challenged girls figure out where they’re supposed to go. So, we walked about a mile the wrong way before we realized something wasn’t right and turned around. And so, our 8.5 mile tramp turned into a 10.5 mile tramp. I like to just think of it as taking a detour to enjoy some new scenery. No one has really bought that idea yet.. We stopped several times during the tramp, mostly for pictures but occasionally to catch our breath after a series of uphill switchbacks. It was so incredible how you could be walking in dense bush (forest) and then come to a clearing with an immaculate view of golden beaches and sparkling blue waters. New Zealand is just pretty rad like that, though.
On our boat ride back, we stumbled upon a pod of 30-50 large bottlenose dolphins. Two weekends in a row! I feel like a dolphin whisperer or something. But seriously, it was another magical NZ experience. They were swimming alongside, underneath and all around the boat. I really wanted to reach out and touch one, but I didn’t think the captain would appreciate retrieving a soggy American from the icy waters. Some of the dolphins decided to put on a little show and started jumping for us. If this is New Zealand life, I don’t ever want to leave.
We packed up Sunday morning to head back to Kaikoura. Before we left though, the office manager, Lothar (aka The Grinch…office’s nickname, not mine), came up to the three of us and gave us postcards and a free t-shirt. He said he “didn’t normally like people, but for some reason he like us.” Good enough for me. On the way home, we stopped in Nelson (only got lost like 3 times this time) and hiked up to the “Centre of New Zealand” for panoramic views of the city.
We returned to the Old Convent with plenty of stories to share. I’m constantly reminded of the beauty in my backyard here. From beach sunrises to backyard sunsets, beauty abounds everywhere. New Zealand, you are treating me well.