The first day began with a very early start for a “holiday”. In order to catch the first bus, Emily and I had to be at the YMCA hostel in Christchurch by 7:30, meaning a 6am wake up in order to organise ourselves for the trip ahead, which really meant me staying in bed until the last possible moment, knowing it would be the last time for two weeks that I would sleep in a room with only one bed in it.
The first stop was Kaiteriteri in the Abel Tasman National Park, an area renowned for kayaking, walking and hiking tracks. Luckily, Kaiteriteri provided some gorgeous weather upon our arrival, giving us hope for a scorching couple of weeks ahead.
The following morning, Emily and I woke up early to hop in the Kahu Kayaks van to drive the scenic route to the office where we were to prepare for our morning of kayaking around the coast, back to Kaiteriteri before jumping back on the bus. We had a good laugh putting on our “spray skirts” which looked like nothing I have ever seen before but were a necessity to avoid getting soaked whilst kayaking. Then, after driving to the beach, we jumped into our double kayaks, me sitting gleefully at the back where the steering of the kayak took place, and Emily sat before me as navigator. I’ll admit, I am not an avid kayaker…in fact I think I have only kayaked about three times in my life bef0re, and yet I now don’t know why I don’t do it more often! Along with it being an awesome upper body workout, the view from the water was stunning, providing close-up views of Split Apple Rock (seen below), and close encounters with the interesting sea life. 100% highly recommend!
Returning to the bus with sandy feet and salted legs, Emily and I jumped on ready for our next stop! Going back to when I voiced our expectation of glorious sunshine continuing through the West Coast… let’s be real, this is New Zealand: the land of four seasons in one day and all that. However, despite the slight overcast skies and mild temperatures, the Nelson Lakes National Park was quite something to behold. In fact, the murky skies almost enhanced it’s incredible appearance.
Adorned with one little pier, the monstrous lake, surrounded by rolling, forested hills, the lake instilled an overriding sense of calm within me and I felt as if I could have sat there for hours just looking at it. Sadly, we had to move on, leaving the seagulls and ducks to mingle along the lake’s stony shore.
Following Kaiteriteri was Westport. I hate to be a damp squib about this stop but my personal experience of this little down was somewhat negative. Accompanied by driving rain, a 14-bed dorm, with very little to do except sit and watch movies in the hostel, I wouldn’t particularly rate it as a hotspot holiday destination. HOWEVER, despite my less than glowing review, I did enjoy the satisfaction of a warm meal of fish and chips from the local store which warmed my empty belly after a long day of driving and the chill of my rain-soaked jeans.
The next day, we set off for Lake Mahinapua which we knew very little about but were just happy to leave Westport. Stopping off near Cape Foulwind to see an array of seals lazing about on the rocks whilst the wind howled around them. Many of the girls, including myself watched the small baby seals rolling around for a while, cooing our awws and ahhhs as the pups clumsily ventured about the rocky terrain.
We had been notified of an upcoming party that was to take place at the hotel we were to be staying at that night. The dress code was Glam Rock ‘n’ Roll to commemorate the anniversary of David Bowie’s death. Admittedly, this was quite a challenging concept for the unprepared. The bus took a lunch break in Greymouth along the way, and we were directed towards a fancy dress shop. Now, my imagination immediately resorted to the “glam” aspect of the dress code, rather than the “rock ‘n’ roll” part, in an attempt to avoid being generic. I’d say that perhaps we missed the mark a little but have a look for yourself… it is very much a mix of decades but our budget disallowed any extravagancies so we settled for cheap shiny wigs and a sequinned trilby each… how…glam?
Nevertheless, Emily and I proceeded to heavily party in our glittery wigs and have a good ol’ party with the others on the bus who put out quite a display for the theme. Sadly, we did not win the competition, beaten by a replica David Bowie outfit and a Prince outfit…but that was really a no brainer! A personal favourite experience of Lake Mahinapua was the midnight walk down to the lake, where I saw lots of little glowworms in the bush, shining like little stars among the leaves.
Nursing a heavy hangover the next day, we slumped back onto the bus, waved goodbye to our lovely hosts and set on towards Franz Josef, the home of the famous Franz Josef glacier. Pictured below are the peculiar ‘Pancake Rocks’, which are layers of rocks which sit along part of the West coastline in these strange formations that resemble the delicious breakfast dish, except the cold wind and sheer drops to the sea weren’t so yummy.
On to Franz Josef! My upcoming post will include stunning pictures of the Franz Josef glacier and a story of a 4-hour return trip to see it. Although the glacial hot pools after the walk made it all worth it in the end!
Stay tuned for the next part of our adventure!