I left Wellington at 9am on the ferry. The ferry port is very hard to get to as a pedestrian. You can get a bus, but then you have to cross a busy road (there are no crossings) and there is minimal signage, so the port is good easy to miss. I found it eventually though and enjoyed the journey across. It was quite a still day and the weather was good, so the journey was very comfortable.
The scenery as we arrived at south island was stunning. The Marlborough sounds, a beautiful section of the south island made up of river valleys, now flooded with sea water are stunning. The ferry entered south island down Queen Charlotte sound and docked in Picton.
In Picton, I was greeted by Nikki, one of the hostel owners and taken to the hostel in a minibus. The hostel was very cool. A place called Tombstone Backpackers – they had a beautiful building, comfy rooms and free scones in the morning. I settled in, got food and had a walk around Picton in the evening – it’s a pretty little place.
The next day I went out to the Queen Charlotte Sound Track, which is one of New Zealand’s great walks (Tongariro is also one – there are nine overall). To get to the track, you have to take a boat. The boat was called “Sounds Exciting”. It took us along the sound and dropped people off at different points along the track. I got off at Resolution Bay, the second stop on the track, and walked along to Furneaux Lodge, the third stop, which took about two and a half hours.
The track runs along the coast through lush bush. The views are just gorgeous. I took my time and took lots of photos. I also saw some Weka, which are another native bird, often mistaken for kiwi.
The walk lovely, but quite short and soon I found myself at the end of my day trip, waiting for the boat back to Picton. When I have time, I want to come back and walk the whole thing – it takes about three days.
The next day I had the whole morning before I had to get on my bus to Nelson. So I decided to do something a bit drastic. I went to the hairdressers in Picton and got my head shaved! Annoyingly I have lost the immediate before and after pictures, due to my dropping my phone in a creek a few days ago (more on this later), but there are still photos.
People have asked me why I cut it so short. The main answer is that I felt like it, which is why I do most things (that don’t involve other people). I also really wanted to see what it looked like and it is very practical while I am travelling.
There are cons to the hair too I suppose. I think some men can be intimidated by it and not want to talk to me as opposed to girls with long hair (kinda noticing this already – I am being ignored slightly by males compared to long haired girls, even when I am in shops or whatever). This is really weird.
Regardless though, I love it and I am happy I did it! It’s freeing. I would recommend it to anyone considering it – give it a go,it’s a great feeling to shed some weight! Likewise, I completely understand why you would never want to do this – long hair rocks too!
After my drastic haircut, I went for a walk to Bob’s bay, just round the corner from Picton, before going to my bus. The journey was very beautiful – the scenery is so big here, mountains and forests and lakes. South island is much less populated than north island and it shows (especially as I went further south).
I arrived in Nelson and checked into the multi-building palace backpackers hostel. It was very quirky and had another cat living there! I had some trouble checking in as I had only booked the night before and over the phone, so I was down as “Millie Norton”.
I went for a walk around Nelson. It is a pretty town, with flowers lining the streets and a lovely church. I had a relaxing evening in with pizza, while the rest of the hostel had a boozy party in the courtyard – thankfully I am a heavy sleeper!
The next day, I headed out to go paragliding for the second time in my life so far. I was picked up by Stew – the very laid back paragliding instructor and we headed out to Stoke to go flying. We also picked up a guy who was learning to paraglide solo and his girlfriend.
We drove up the mountain to the launch site. At the top we got ready. I loved how casual it was this time, everyone knew what they were doing, but it was very informal. The first time I paraglided was in Switzerland and it ran like clockwork, but was less personal.
Stew set everything up and we took off. I remembered just how much I loved paragliding the first time! The views were stunning – we could see all the way out to Abel Tasman national park (further round the coast – the location of another great walk). We rode the thermals higher and higher, Stew explaining how it all worked.
After a while, Stew decided to take us down to land back where we started. This was not the original plan, but the guy learner to fly solo was struggling to take off. After we landed, Stew rushed over to help him and he took off rather messily (not that I know how to either, obviously).
Stew and I took off again, and after some more flying around, we headed out to our intended landing site and descended. I took control of the glider for a short while, which was fun, before we headed into our final descent – Stew spiralling us downwards at high speed!
Paragliding is so much fun and it’s chilled compared to skydiving. As soon as I can afford to, I am going to learn to paraglide solo – it’s the only way a human can truely fly and it’s just the best sensation!
After the paraglide, I had a lazy evening and went to bed early as I had to be up to go to Abel Tasman.
The bus left at 7:30 and took us to Kaiteriteti, a small place on the edge of the national park. From there, we checked in and got on the boat which takes you along the national park, dropping people off on the many gorgeous beaches on the Abel Tasman track route to go walking.
I took the extended cruise option, where ale the cruise the whole way up the coast – including going past a fur seal colony! The crew gave us a commentary about some of the features along the coast as we went.
The day had started a bit rainy, with lots of clouds, but grew brighter as we headed along the coast. It was, however, still incredibly rough (for me at least) around one section of the journey.
After seeing the whole coast, we headed back and I was dropped at Medland Beach to do a four hour hike back to Anchorage. The walk went through bush and looked out on the sea – absolutely breathtaking views! The walk took me three and a half hours, including doing a small detour to see Cleopatra’s pool, where it looked like it would be lovely to swim.
There was also a really cool bridge, which could only hold five people at once, spanning a river which led out to the sea. I spent a lot of titime there, taking photos.
As I finished early, I had some time to sit on the beach at Anchorage and paddle in the sea. It had turned into a beautiful day and I got some great photos of the lovely inlet.
The boat came to pick us up and I was sad to leave Abel Tasman behind. Another one to walk in full someday!
Back in Kaiteriteri, I got on my bus back to Nelson, driven by lovely George, an older gentleman who chatted to me the whole way back to Nelson, pointing out aspects of interest as we drive by – another example of the limitless friendliness of Kiwis!