Saturday, November 29, 2008

Excuse me sir, is this paradise?!

(Appletree beach in Abel Tasman National Park)

Day #4 here we go!

The main item on the agenda for day #4 was kayaking through the Abel Tasman (National park).

On our way to Abel Tasman from Blenheim, we enjoyed a brief coffee/walk in Nelson. It's a neat place as far as cities go (but we have no pictures, so you'll have to trust us). Moving on...

At noon we hopped aboard the water taxi that transported us to the beach where we would begin our kayak trip—my first time ever in a kayak!

The driver of the water taxi was quite a card, and I experienced some of my more gullible moments in life. He told us that Peter Jackson (who made the Lord of the Rings) donated this split rock to Abel Tasman:

He went on to say that since tourists preferred to see birds on it, they invested in a mechanical bird so there would be at least one bird there at all times. I never know if these kiwis are kidding or not, but I totally believed him! I know I know, once a blonde always a blonde…

Upon arriving at the beach, we were introduced to our guide/group and given instructions. We were in a group with an American couple and a Belgian man, and our guide’s name was Ryan. Ryan was a textbook Kiwi. He said every typical kiwi phrase like every 2 seconds “Choice!; Cheers!; Sweet as!; Aye; Mate” etc etc etc. We loved him. He was awfully entertaining!

It was EXTREMELY windy outside, and at points it felt like we were white water kayaking! About 30 seconds into the ride, my over-sized (and very protective!) hat flew into the ocean. Lowell gallantly retrieved it from the torrential waters, and I plopped the sopping wet slab of material back on my head. I was a tad paranoid about it flying off again, so I had it pressed directly against my face, and I cricked my neck so I could see through the tiny space under the rim. My hat never did fly off again, but BOY WAS MY NECK SORE!

By the way, I STRONGLY recommend Lowell as a kayaking partner. He’s a very powerful man! I stopped a couple times to adjust my hat or sunglasses (or, let’s face it, just to take a break), and the kayak continued to cruise along at the same speed! I was working hard, I SWEAR! I don’t know how THAT happened..

(a splash left a mark on the lens here and we didn't notice it for quite some time,
so try to ignore the blurry patch in the middle of many of these images. *smile*)

At about the halfway point, we stopped at Appletree beach for a little exploring and a siesta! Okay, I was the only one who actually NAPPED (sunshine=heatstroke; heatstroke=SLEEPINESS), but everyone eventually joined me for a rest.

The remainder of the kayak trip involved less tempestuous winds, and we arrived safely at our destination.

We then dragged our exhausted little butts into our campervan and headed to the Top 10 campground in Motueka. This campground was the BOMB! It had a hot tub (aka “spa pool”) in a private little hut:

A giant chess board:

And a huge colourful inflated pillow:

On morning #5, we TECHNICALLY should’ve headed directly to Picton in order to ensure prompt arrival at the ferry terminal, but who wants to leave right away when there are so many TOYS at the campsite?

So Lowell and I played.

Lowell insisted on taking pictures of me in place of the ‘queen’ on the chess board. I was a little embarrassed as a group of young adults were staring at us. I smiled awkwardly and the little photo session couldn’t be over soon enough! Later, when we were making our way back to our van from the giant pillow, we noticed the same group of young adults taking the EXACT PICTURES we just were. Identical poses and everything. I guess I had no reason to be embarrassed!

Anyhoo, we finally decided that we really should get our rears on the road. We called the ferry company and asked how far in advance we should be there. They said one hour at the absolute latest. OOPS! If we sped the entire way, the EARLIEST we could arrive was 30 minutes before departure. In hindsight, I really don’t know WHAT we were thinking.

Well, we braved the crazy windy roads and sped our way to Picton (as mentioned in previous posts, I quickly became a pretty fearless driver around here. Except when motor bikes pass in the middle of undivided highways with oncoming traffic. That still freaks me out). The constant construction slowed us down a bit, but we still arrived at the ferry terminal 15 minutes before departure. When we picked up our (reserved) tickets, we inquired with a hint of panic in our voices, “Will we still be able to get on this ferry?” With a glint of amusement in her eye, the attendant said “Of course!” And pointed us in the right direction. As soon as we turned, we noticed there were heaps of cars still waiting. THEY MADE US FEARFUL FOR NO REASON! Sneaky sneaky.

So we drove onto the ferry. I ALMOST hit a car, but I didn’t, so that’s more of a non-story (but still humiliating because the dude in the nearly victimized car looked really nervous- but it wasn’t my fault. Really! Those corners were tight.)

Lowell was eager to get out on the deck to watch the scenery pass by and say good-bye to the South Island and hello to the North Island. I tried, but my motion sickness kicked in, and I had to sleep (it’s how I cope with motion sickness). So, I made myself comfortable while Lowell enjoyed the view. This is apparently the nicest ferry ride in the world- reportedly more like a cruise.

(We're on our way! And the truck in the lower right corner is filled- and I mean filled- with cows.)

At 5:30pm we arrived in Wellington (NZ’s capital), and set up camp for night #5.

Day #6 still to come…


Bloggy Mama said...

Wow. Nothing else, but WOW!

Shelley said...

Tell us more!! MORE!! Loving these posts, the photos are awesome. Julie, did you notice the hose in the washroom on the ferry? and the giant drain on the bathroom floor? apparently seasickness is a daily occurence on those things. I battled nausea on that ferry, too :(

Katie, Bakersfield, CA said...

Lowell and Julie!

I love your posts and enjoying your pics. The ferry and some parts of NZ remind me so much of the coast of Kenya (sigh) ... very similar.

Take care and keep having fun!

Katie, Bakersfield, CA.