First Month of New Zealand Adventure
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Seeing as I have been here a month already there is a TON of material that I could put in this first post, however in the interest of time I am going to try and hit just the highlights.
Kevin and I scored in Auckland when we first got here by buying a van for about $1600 NZ which is an unreal price for a van down here at the Backpacker’s Car Market. We named it Meffy after the guy Mefford who we bought it from, and it has taken us all over the country thus far. Moving somewhat chronologically, we made a ton of local whitewater kayaking friends and partied with them in Tauranga on the North Island, surfed at Mount Maunganui, went on some epic hikes in the Coromandel peninsula (including one overnight route up Mt. Motupere that the rangers said had not been successfully completed by anyone in over a month), and have slept every night in the van for free parked at some epic beach. We picked up Ted in Auckland, bought some surfboards, and headed up to sail the Bay of Islands in our HobieCat. From there we headed west and went camping and mussel picking with some local abalone divers in these remote sand dunes outside of Ahipara, then shot down to Raglan for some epic surfing and camping at this spot called Ruapeke (we drive A LOT of random dirt roads to random places here).
From there we surfed our way around Mt. Taranaki and down on to Wellington, where we hit the Cuba St. Festival at just the right time and had a blast playing guitar and ukulele on the street. Some of us (me) ended up jumping on a float of hula dancers from the island of Tokelau and became a part of the huge parade. From there we took a ferry across to the South Island (we got to ride up front of this $225 million ship because we just happened to meet the captain of the boat the night before when we were playing music on the street). We immediately started out conquering the South Island, sea kayaking Abel Tasmen National Park for 2 days with it’s unbelievably empty beaches and clear waters where the rainforest comes up to the edge of the beach.
Moving a little further south we climbed Mt. Roberts, a minor little 3800 ft mountain in the Nelson Lakes National Park that was stunningly beautiful, and from there moved on to the Buller Kayak Festival in Murchison where we just happened to run into some of our kayak friends from up North. We ended spending the weekend dressed as pirates (for really no reason) and entering the whitewater rafting competition, and actually held our own in the heats even though we’d had more than a little rum and had a pirate flag flying from the bow of the raft. We partied like pirates for 2 days and then moved down to the coast for some surfing at Punakaiki (water’s starting to get colder, glad I got a 5mm suit) and on to the Monteith’s Brewery (awesome…open free for all bar for 10 minutes) .
After devouring the all you can eat buffet of sausages we happened upon in Greymouth, we drove Meffy further south on the west coast and spent the night surfing and camped out on Gillespies Beach under the watchful eye of Fox Glacier (literally we woke up at the beach looking at a staggeringly enormous glacier, so wild), picked up a few hitchhikers, and have descended into Wanaka for the time being.
And that is an absurd blitz of the last month. In between we have met enormous amounts of friendly and hospitable people, have woken up each morning with little plan of where we’re heading or where we’ll end up, but every day seems to work out better than that past. It really has been unbelievable. Although we live in a van, bathe in the river, eat 50 cent canned baked bean and spaghetti from the store and have yet to do laundry, I would have it no other way.