The South Island was beautiful. Every place we saw was amazing. I’ll try to give a brief summary of each place, but feel free to skim.
Day 1 & 2: Picton and Abel Tasman
After staying up late the night before to finish packing (of course) after showing Rachel around Wellington a bit, we woke up early and caught a taxi to the ferry terminal at 7 am. we got lunch in Picton which is a small and cute little town. We picked up our rental car and realized that Elizabeth and I were the only 2 who could drive it because we are 21 and Kat forgot to bring her license…
The group talked me into being the first driver. It was really nerve-racking at first but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. We took the extremely windy scenic route on the way to our hostel, Kanuka Ridge. The windy mountain roads were nearly impossible. I was trying so hard to be passenger friendly while not going too slow so as not to piss off the drivers behind us. We stopped several times for pictures but were ATTACKED by sandflies. When we finally got there, we asked the hostel owner where to get good fish n’ chips and he sent us down the road to a food cart called The Fat Tui. They sold fish n’ chips along with gourmet salad burgers. These were giant burgers with an entire salad on top. It was delicious!
The next morning, we got up early, made breakfast, packed lunches and left for our day hike through Abel Tasman National Park. The hostel owner tempted us with water taxis that could take us far along the track to kayak or play with seals, but we opted for the free option of just walking there. We actually got really far along the track that day and saw so many beautiful beaches and landscapes. When we stopped on one beach to eat lunch I just sat there marvelling in the fact that, on Easter Sunday, I was eating lunch on one of the most beautiful beaches in arguably the most beautiful country on Earth. How lucky am I? In that moment, I just felt so grateful, lucky, and happy. The moment was very surreal. Here is a picture of Apple Tree Bay, where we spent a lot of time relaxing, walking around, and taking pictures:
Here are some other Abel Tasman pictures:
This day was my 2nd favorite day of the entire trip. Everything was just so beautiful. This is the night I taught everyone how to play Euchre which started the craze that ensued for the next 2 weeks.
Day 3 was the best day of the entire 2 weeks. We got to Shambhala which was our favorite hostel. It was a very hippie/relaxed atmosphere. There were stone paths everywhere and little gazeebos and meditation spots. There was also a private beach but we didn’t spend much time there because the tide was in.
I was reading The Little Prince in the gazeebo with Kathryn and Rachel saying how I could sit there in the sun all day and be perfectly happy when Elizabeth came up and said she was way too anxious/hyper to sit around all day and wanted to go find something to do. We obliged. We went and flipped through the little book that the owner had made. It said something like this: ‘If you are one of those crazy travellers who only spends one day at each place and is constantly moving, then you must go see Wharariki Beach. It is just a fifteen minute walk from the carpark past the sheep fields.”
Since we were exactly those crazy travellers and only had one day, we decided to follow this man’s suggestion since asking the locals had not let us down so far. So we grabbed our shoes and walked down the gravel driveway towards the carpark. We found a sheep field and wandered through it looking for this beach. There was nowhere to go, though. It was just the same hostel beach we had already seen and the sheep field was fenced in. We gave up and went back to the hostel and called the owner to ask how to get there. It turns out that you have to DRIVE somewhere first and then walk 15 minutes from the carpark. This crucial detail was left out of the instructions in the booklet. He told us it was a quick drive down the road and that there would be signs to follow. We hopped in the car and drove for about 20 minutes and never came to any signs. We were considering turning around but instead we stopped at a hostel and asked for directions. It turns out that this place was a ways longer down the road and on the other side of Farewell Spit. We decided to take a vote on whether to continue on or not. I voted no because we were using up so much gas and it was inching towards sunset. Luckily, I was outvoted and we went. Thank God because Wharariki Beach ended up being the most beautiful place in New Zealand.
The pathway to the beach from the carpark was a sandy trail through the wind-blown trees. The sand leading up to the beach was in waves that made us feel like we were in Aladdin.The sun was slowly setting behind the rocks causing beautiful reflections on the water.
The best part was group of seal pups playing in the small pools of water on the beach. They came right up to us and even played catch with a piece of seaweed one little boy was throwing to them. We spent most of our time with the seal pups.
It really doesn’t get any more beautiful than Wharariki Beach. The water was so blue and the sand was so perfect – it made crunchy footprints after each step. It was prettier than any picture of movie. If you travel one place in your life, it must be to this beach when the tide is out. There were hardly any people there which made it feel like a hidden gem. I don’t need to go back soon, but I would love to go back in 10-20 years and see how it has changed. I hope it never does. I felt like the luckiest person on Earth when I was there.
More posts about the rest of the trip to come soon!