02/13/11 - Karamea to Motueka
Leaving Rongo, we wove our way over the mountains once again and eventually found ourselves in the city of Motueka. Our drive there consisted of little excitement. Aside from a good meal and a warm cup of coffee, there isn't much to tell. As it was, we were happy to arrive at White Elephant Backpackers since we were anxious to get clean and pack up for the next day.
White Elephant was a lovely place. The building had an old southern feel and the grounds contained several fruit trees. When I gave my name and got our room assignment we were a bit flummoxed.
They gave us a double en suite. Neither one of us remembered booking an en suite room, but there was the key resting in my palm. And the price was surprising low. It was less than all the other doubles we’d booked on our trip. It was like we’d won the lottery!
Through the kitchen was the door to our room. On entering, we let out a huge sigh of delight. Our own patio too?! And our very own bathroom?! What a joy! You forget how wonderful bathrooms can be until you’re sharing them with twenty other people. We eagerly took showers and then stretched our legs walking about the grounds. Right above our patio was a kiwi fruit tree. Loads of fruit dangled above but none were ripe enough to pick. However, just a few feet away, an apple tree grew with tons of apples ready to be plucked. These apples were super delicious!!! I love apples, but when they’re fresh from a tree? Heaven. And these apples were exceptionally angelic.
Shortly thereafter, we heated up our dinner and ate on the patio. It wasn’t a secluded patio, there were other backpackers on the deck next to us off the kitchen. But it was lovely all the same. Our dessert: Fresh apples from the tree with Nutella! Delectable! Well fed and rested from the long drive, we dove into packing for Abel Tasman. Previous research told us that Abel Tasman National Park was a must see on the south island and the Abel Tasman coastal track was one of the "Great Walks" of New Zealand and shouldn’t be missed. Everything we’d read told us that kayaking was the best way to experience it, and several people we’d met told us that Abel Tasman was their favorite place to visit. We were getting excited.
Our trip would consist of two days kayaking up the coast followed by a third day of hiking. We’d camp for three nights total and catch a water taxi on the fourth day. Neither of us had any substantial kayaking experience other than renting one every now and again. Sea kayaking, specifically, was uncharted territory.
With great calculation and excessive forethought we gathered everything we’d need for the four day trip, sliding each item into its designated place. Hopefully it would fit in the kayak, but we didn’t worry about that. We’d find out tomorrow. In that moment all that mattered was some sound sleep, especially after the difficulties of the previous night with Dance Dance Revolution playing outside our window.
The lights switched off but our bodies did not. Unfortunately, all the backpackers that were banging about in the kitchen that evening were now outside our sliding glass door talking, drinking, and laughing on the patio. If they’d been speaking English I could’ve easily followed their conversation. This late night reveling went on and on and on. In the kitchen, outside – back and forth they went, taking the noise with them, boxing us in on all sides. And once it finally died down what do we hear but some mysterious animal gnawing on a tree outside the window…the window right next to our heads! Its crunching was loud and continued my sleep deprivation well into the night.
I’m not sure how much I slept. When we got up at 6:30 A.M. my estimate was about three hours.
Oh, White Elephant, I was so excited to meet you! Why must your walls be so thin? Now I understand why that room was so cheap.
Since this entry is so short and, well boring, I’ve decided to use this time to jot down some random thoughts both Katie and I have drummed up during our trip. So here we go…
- We never expected to be such foodies on this vacation. Our plan was to simply try native foods. Yes, we’ve had our venison pie, our green lipped mussels, our lamb with mint sauce, but on top of all that I’ve been obsessed with trying ice cream everywhere we go and we’ve both dedicated ourselves to tasting every ginger beer brand there is. Our favorite is still Bunderberg, which is happily available in the states!
- What is with the crazy water pressure in New Zealand?! Every time I turn on a faucet I’m unexpectedly blasted with water, and it’s not like I’m cranking the thing. It’s been over a month and I still haven’t learned my lesson. I guess I’m doomed to walk around with a wet shirt.
- I’m saddened to know that my twenties could’ve been filled with traveling/working abroad indefinitely. Why didn't this occur to me? All these young spring chickens are seeing the world! Then again, I have “stability” and a clean head of hair, which goes a long way when it comes to happiness.
- New Zealand has it covered when it comes to public restrooms. You’re never at a loss for one. Not only are they in cafes and restaurants and open to the public, but the bathrooms on the street are impeccable. You’d think they’d be nasty, but they’re clean and have full hand washing facilities. Plus, some play music and even talk to you!
- Allegedly, there is no tipping in New Zealand. Isn’t that wonderful?! Yet…I’ve noticed a strange amount of tip jars around. I think the wait staff are attempting to transition.
- I want more vinegar on my fish and chips! This was never a problem in Scotland.
- Jars are sealed tighter in New Zealand. Usually, I can twist off those air-tight jars with moderate effort, and I always have Katie there for backup. But here it’s been a struggle. All the usual methods have resulted in failure and Katie has had to use every ounce of strength, coming close to popping a vein, when twisting off those lids. Maybe Kiwis are just stronger?
- And finally… Why are there so many Germans here? Was there some kind of New Zealand tourism push in Germany? Maybe a secret plot to overthrow the country? Note to New Zealand: Be on the lookout for wienerschnitzel and strudel.