3/2/10 - Abel Tasman

Up at 6 for a 6:30 bus to the Abel Tasman national park for two days solid with Becky as we were the only ones who had signed up for the camping trip. I was surprised to find that when we got to Kaiteriteri we really were the only ones doing the trip but we had become quite good friends and she talks the right amount so I was happy enough.

We dropped our bags off to be taken on to our campsite. From Kaiteriteri it was a short water taxi to Te Pukatea a bay that Lonely Planet had rated as the 8th best beach in the world and I could see why, the sand was golden and we were surrounded by cliffs and rainforest and a perfect clear blue sea. We had it to ourselves which astonished me until two girls emerged from behind some trees to ask the time but it was still an incredible feeling to be somewhere so beautiful and yet so deserted.

The walk through Abel Tasman was amazing, it is one of New Zealand's 10 great walks and it has now become an ambition to try them all before I die. Dense forest, beautiful clear rivers with round boulders placed in them as if by an artist and every hour or so another perfect empty beach that I thought normal people weren't allowed to go to without paying Richard Branson a fortune.

It took around 5 hours to get to our campsite, hidden in the trees behind Bark Bay, again a beautiful beach and not a bad spot to spend a night. Myself and Becky shared a bottle of red wine, lit a bonfire and chatted to an American who plays poker online for a living, he is possibly the first American I have got on with for longer than 6 seconds. Becky fell asleep as soon as she got in the tent, I didn't thanks to a group of Spaniards singing and playing guitar until 11 when I got up to tell them politely to shut up. The guitars stopped, the noise didn't. Eventually I began to drift off, annoyed that such a special place was tainted by a bunch of inconsiderate nobs.

Minutes after falling asleep something bigger and noisier than a rat ran in to my head. I was convinced it was inside the tent so I jolted bolt upright and inexplicably brushed my limbs in case it was clinging on to me somewhere then I switched on my torch and searched the tent. Once I'd calmed down I realised there was no chance a big animal could have got in I had just had my head against the side of the tent. I switched off the torch and laid back down. The beast was still outside, I could hear him rooting through my bag for food. In an effort to stop my bread being munched and to scare off what I was guessing was a gorilla I tried the following:
-banging the side of the tent
-shining the torch through the side of the tent
-making strange noises like a dog
-unzipping the tent to have a look at the monster before zipping it straight back up too scared to look.
Unsurprisingly none of these worked and I listened for an hour as the gorilla ate my bread and possibly all my possessions but I wasn't going out there to stop him.

The next morning I woke up to see that my bread had indeed been partly eaten through the wrapper but nothing else was soiled. I noticed a sign saying "Take your rubbish with you, we have at least two possums in the campsite", perhaps it wasn't a gorilla and maybe I should have had a look at a possum in the wild.

I let Becky do most of the packing of the tent while I supervised so that she could feel useful then we left it with our bags to be taken by water taxi to Kaiteriteri whilst we spent a day kayaking back down the Abel Tasman coast line. The kayaking was great fun but after 2 days straight with Becky we were both getting politely fed up of each other, she didn't like my steering skills in the kayak I didn't like that I was doing all the paddling but it wasn't enough of an irritation to stop the day being awesome. We saw seals and a couple of penguins swimming around, obviously lost because I thought they lived in Antarctica. The views of the coastline were as good from the sea as from on land and we were able to take them in even better when we pulled 4 kayaks together and got out a ground sheet to hold aloft as a sail for a mini regatta towards the next bay where we stopped for a swim and a sandwich.

It was a great trip and we returned to the hostel that evening with some new friends we met kayaking - Shauna, a Canadian nurse, her travelling companion Tyler who is a Pharmacist, Pete from Belfast who is travelling for a year thanks to the recession giving him the option of a career break and who is together with Shauna while they're in New Zealand and Britt a dutch girl. Roast dinner then out to a pub. One beer led to another and soon I found myself stepping around a fight that someone insisted was between a girl and a midget to enter a bar for some dancing with Ollie and Michael, two very Irish lads who tried chatting up every single girl in the club. While the Irish busied themselves being rejected, smiling and laughing all the way, I spotted Chris and Mike two Germans who had shared a dorm with me in Christchurch, and chatted with them until I could hold back the urge to dance no longer. My arms and legs broke free and Kiwis and foreigners alike looked upon me with eyes of confusion and pity but I didn't care because I was enjoying myself and continued to do so until I remembered I was very tired and stumbled back to the hostel for a great 4 hours of sleep.