Right then… My latest escapade was a 10 day trip to the land of mountains, Maoris, and the great flightless bird (which, according to legend, was the only bird honourable/stupid enough to give up the power of flight to save the land from the pesky insects) – the Kiwi. You guessed it; I was New Zealand bound!
After what can only be described as one of the worst flights of my life – and at only 3 hours in length, that is quite a feat! – I arrived into Wellington at 6am after 0 hours of sleep. Upon arriving at Base Hostel in the city centre – and not being able to check in to curl up in bed until 12:30pm – I mustered a bit of bleary energy and ventured out to take a look around. In these morning hours I managed to do a bit of shopping, climb Mt Victoria (epic views!), and visit the Te Papa museum. All in a sleepless morning’s work…
Due to start my all expenses paid tour (minus flights and alcohol) with the Kiwi Experience – perks of the job! – at 7pm in the evening, I was finally able to snag almost 2 hours of sleep in my bunk bed. Bottom bunk – the place to be! Just hope your bunk bed buddy doesn’t have night-time incontinence issues.
So to explain briefly what I was doing in New Zealand. Between my old job with Peterpans Adventure Travel and my new/current job with Backpackers World Travel, I was given 2 weeks off. During these 2 weeks there just happened to be an “Agent Famil” tour running through the South Island of NZ, hosted by the Kiwi Experience. Agent Famils are basically tours run solely for travel agents to experience a particular tour operator’s product – with a view for said travel agent to be able to sell it better, and more frequently! This particular tour would run from Wellington over to the South Island, across to Abel Tasman National Park and down the West Coast ending in Queenstown. As the Kiwi’s would say… Sweet As Bro.
At 7pm I met the group of 12 other travel agents I would be travelling with plus our Kiwi Experience tour leader. The night descended into what people do when they are not at work… boozing. On this night I relived my youth and became Basement Bar’s Beer Pong Champion. Prize… $50 bar tab. Cheers then!
The following morning feeling slightly on the weary side we all boarded the ferry and travelled through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds from Wellington to Picton, where we met our Kiwi Ex bus driver, known simply as Q. Q then drove us to Abel Tasman National Park, to a hostel in a tiny beachside town called Kaiteriteri, where we would set up camp for 2 nights.
Abel Tasman National Park is named after the Dutch Explorer, who apparently managed to miss Australia (really – it’s huge!) and ended up dropping anchor here instead, before being chased away by the Maori “savages”. With amazing turquoise green waters teaming with wildlife, beautiful beaches and plenty of activities to keep any outdoorsy person entertained, Abel Tasman should be a pin in any traveller’s map. Sunset sailing, sea kayaking to check out the New Zealand Fur Seals (maybe if it wasn’t for my piss-poor multitasking skills, which required paddling, as well as steering using foot pedals, we might have found them quicker), and hiking through the rainforest (after 3 hours of sea kayaking, another 3+ hours of hiking felt like 3+ days)… We really packed it in for the short amount of time we had here!
After another boozy night (this will probably become a running theme in these NZ posts!) we boarded the bus and set off towards our next overnight stop, Westport – where we stayed at possibly the nicest/coolest/homeliest hostel I have ever had the pleasure of staying in; Bazil’s Hostel & Surf School.
However before we were able to reach Westport we had one literally bone-chilling stop to make at Nelson Lakes. As we approached the stunning Lake Rotoiti, nestled deep in Nelson Lakes National Park, our tour leader mentioned that we might like to jump in the lake. It was cloudy, a bit rainy, pretty cold, and the lake was barely 8 degrees, but being the “brave” idiot that I am, I decided that it would be a good idea to take the plunge. In some ways yes it was a good idea because I am sure I would’ve regretted it if I had passed up on the pleasure, but it was cold, like seriously fucking cold, and I did kick an enormous black eel creature whilst swimming in the water (of which, as it turns out, there were many)! But hey, you only live once and all that.
I’m going to have to split this trip into quite a few posts, so… there’s more to come!
A few more photos from Welly to Westport: