NZ: Day 20
A Shaky Start
Its fair to say we were all still pretty tipsy when we had to get the dreaded 7am bus to get the ferry in the morning. Jay managed to excel once more by hopping on at about 7.15 in only his boxers and having to stand for the short trip to the ferry terminal as all other seats were taken- Even for Jed, our Kiwi driver who had been with the KiwiE for 3 years, this was a first! Still, at least we had a few hours to get some kip on the ferry.
I only awoke when we were passing through the Marlborough sounds, which this time, in much clearer weather, were far more impressive. You can see why New Zealand is knows as Land of the Long White Cloud…
On to Picton
Once we reached the South Island there were a couple of changeovers as the North and South buses came together. We actually ended up having an extra bus come and join us, due to the demand in people wanting to travel South.
Much of the rest of the day was spent travelling Westwards towards Kaiteriteri via Picton, where about two people jumped off- think its a big wine region, but we didn’t really see any of it.
Before we traveled through to our Hostel, we stopped on our customary grocery shop to stock up on cheap, bulk items ensuring we could still survive on our rapidly degrading budget. It was here, at this exact location, at this exact time that I bumped into a familiar face- James Cooling who I played football with at University. I knew he left for Australia about 6 months ago, but had no idea I would bump into him here- it was mad! He was following us on the bus behind and we agreed to pick up our conversation at the hostel.
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We reached our hostel Kaiteri Lodge ($30) in the evening. Good location on the beach, pretty basic, not a bad little restaurant.
Back in Wellington, I did a bit of research into Kaiteriteri and the Abel Tasman which is considered one of the top 10 walks in the world (Lonely planet, National Geographic). Not wanting to squander an opportunity, I devised a 3 day hike through the region, that managed to attract the attention of Paul, Jared, Chuckie and Anthony; with myself and Jay that gave us a small clan of 6.
While we were pretty excited about the hike, we were also as much aggrieved that we would have to part ways with the rest of our bus, who would spend the standard 1 night in Kaiteriteri and head South without us.
While we earlier promised not to drink that night, we had to, in order to say a short farewell to our group and catch up with some fellow faces. This was relatively short-lived as the bar cut everyone off by 11. Nonetheless, we trotted down to the beach and sat drinking under star and moonlight, a real travelling cliche- but can’t beat it!
Beer, Beach, Friends and living in the moment- it is what travelling is all about!
Kiwi-E only stays one night in Kaiteriteri, but also the bus doesn’t get there until late afternoon so most people miss out on perhaps the best beaches in New Zealand- its probably the only stop I feel deserves more than the KiwiE recommends; Stay the extra night and if you have the time don’t miss out on the stunning Abel Tasman! Post to follow…..
Kaiteri Lodge: $30 p/n / £15 **