It is hard to find where to even begin with this weekend’s trip. I didn’t think it would be possible to laugh more, see more beautiful scenery, luck out more, or exceed my comfort zone more than last weekend. Thankfully I was very wrong. I went with the same group of 8 as last weekend to venture to Abel Tasman National Park in the south island. Compared to last weekend where every single little thing when totally perfect, this weekend was straight up jank. So many issues kept arising that were completely out of our control. Despite all the hurdles, the group still somehow managed to turn the stinky situations into an amazing weekend. This program would be impossible without flexibility and I’m super impressed with how easy-going and patient everyone here is. Anyways, I’ll try to detail the fun things that happened over the past three days but there’s a good chance I’ll leave a lot out since I was a delirious for a good portion of it. Good news is I have gotten better about taking pictures so I at least have lots of those to back me up this time.
So to start, the eight of us caught a 2:30 am ferry to Picton, NZ on Friday morning. Yep, you read that right. 2:30 am. It was quite a beating but we made it with (mostly) smiles on our faces.
I hadn’t slept at all before the ferry so I was out before the boat even left the dock. I woke up a few times because it was absolutely freezing, but other than that it went smoothly. Once we docked and picked up our car, we headed out of Picton towards Marahau in Abel Tasman. The drive was through Queen Charlotte and Marlborough Sounds so the drive was stunning; however, it was really, really curvy. Like the kind of curvy that you can’t see 20 meters in front of you because the road turns so sharply. This continued for probably over an hour. And if you know me at all, you can probably assume how bad that was for me from the back row of an 8 passenger van. But it must’ve not been too terrible because I made it with little issue and after three hours and a stop for some groceries and coffee, we made it to Marahau. Cue the first obstacle. When we arrived at the place that we were renting kayaks from, we received bad news that the wind was too heavy and they weren’t allowing kayaks out that day; it was too dangerous. Our plan had originally been to kayak from Marahau to Anchorage, camp overnight, then kayak back the next day.
So this put a considerable damper on our plans and left us with a few decisions to make. We decided our best option was to walk up to Anchorage, camp there, have the kayaks delivered to us in the morning and kayak back to Marahau. So after a safety course with the kayaks, we set off to Anchorage. Did I mention that the walk to Anchorage was 12.5 kilometers? (~7-8 miles) Even though it wasn’t steep or too difficult of terrain, it was still 7 miles in chacos and all of our camping gear. So I am counting it and checking off my box for backpacking. I carried a backpack through some mountains and slept in a tent that I helped pitch; that totally counts. We made a few stops along the way, having lunch aka sandy pb&j and getting pelted with the sandstorm that all the wind was causing. At least the beaches were kinda pretty if you like that kinda thing…
After five long hours of forcing everyone to play the Grocery Game with me, we made it to the campsite. We pitched our tents and started making our dinner. When I said our weekend was jank, I actually meant that this meal was. I’m gonna go ahead and say it normally would’ve been the worst food of my life; but given the fact we were all starving, we ate every single bit of it.
Most of our group promptly passed out from exhaustion, but a few of us hung out around the campfire while making friends with some incredibly hilarious Germans and a few locals. I still haven’t gotten the campfire smell out of my clothes. And I made friends with a baby duck that would come take things out of my hand that I held out to him. (Not people food for those of you who freak out about that kind of stuff.)
Before this weekend, I don’t even remember the last time I kayaked. Luckily, the wind worked in our favor for the majority of the duration of the trip and we got to enjoy the crisp blue water, the incredible scenery, and hit up Adele Island to see seals! We even saw a few baby seals and they were so cute! I decided Alpha Xi needs a pet seal.
We pulled onto a beach to yet again enjoy some pb&j sandwiches before we set sail back to Marahau. And I mean that literally. We set sail. Being Georgia Tech students, of course SOMEONE had to figure out how to engineer an eno hammock into a sail. It worked so well that it worked TOO well and almost capsized one of the kayaks. So if one sail per kayak is too unstable, why not try a sail for four kayaks? Seems foolproof right? After employing a few different methods, we actually had a pretty good system going and booked it to Marahau.
By this point, we could not wait to get to our hostel in Nelson and shower the salt, sweat, and grime off of us. Unfortunately, we hit obstacle 2 of the trip. Our reservation had accidentally not been made correctly and we were essentially homeless for the night.Luckily we found another hostel pretty quickly and finally got to shower. Once all 8 of us made it in and out of the THREE total showers in the again jank hostel, we went out for dinner. Since we had each eaten 2 pb&j sandwiches, 2 power bars and a few bags of chips, some weird sausage and chips for the past 2 days, we were eager to treat ourselves.
Watch it. Its worth the 20 seconds.
And that we did. I won’t even tell you how much we ate because its just embarrassing, but it was oh so worth it. It was presumably another early night and I’ve never slept better.
Sunday morning we woke up and hit the road with no definite plan whatsoever. We just headed towards Havelock with some intention of finding a few hour hike along the Queen Charlotte Track. We just drove along blaring mixed CDs with every window and sunroof open, stopping whenever we saw something picture worthy or just needed to stretch our legs.
We then found a public beach, that we aren’t so sure if it was actually public since we were the only people there. But nobody told us to leave.. so okay. We just laid out, read, or laid in a hammock for hours. It was so relaxing and the weather was too perfect.
We drove around some more seemingly endless windy roads and came across a honey farm. Turned out to literally be someone’s house with some jars of honey inside; regardless, BEST honey I’ve ever tasted. All 8 of us bought some. We slowly made our way back to the 200-yard long town that is Picton, explored a little, and met up with some other groups from the program on the ferry back to Wellington.
Also, if you wanna read a blog with more cohesion, higher quality pictures and better detail, take a look at my friend Matt’s blog. We have traveled together the past two weekends so his blog offers a different perspective on what we’ve all been experiencing! http://mattjosey1.tumblr.com/post/73821507858/weekend-trip-2-abel-tasman-national-park