Mid-trimester break: Kaikoura
It’s been awhile since I’ve actually posted anything substantial, and I feel mildly guilty about that, so I figured it’d be a good time to catch you all up on some of the more exciting parts of my life, specifically my mid-trimester break. As most of you already know, it was AWESOME.
But here is where I get more specific about the cooler stuff I did during those epic nine days. It might be hard to keep it brief, so forgive me if I start to ramble. It was just so AWESOME. I might write about each day separately so your brains (and my hands) don’t explode.
Here we go:
Day UNO: Wellington Bluebridge Ferry -> Picton -> Kaikoura.
- The ferry ride was super cool. I ate a brownie and an apple while we waited to get on, and watched as 2 semis and a tractor drove onto the ferry. (Cray. Cray.) I’ve been on much smaller ferries in Germany and one other time in NZ, but this one was INTENSE. It was the size of like a stadium or two or more-ish, and inside it looked like what I’d imagine a real snaztastic cruise ship would look like, except we only had access to one floor. But everything was shiny and there were little windows to look out of and some doors onto the lower decks that I most def. took advantage of. There was a café (SHOCKING) and a cafeteria that sold toast (win!) and a couple of play areas for the little ‘uns and a movie theater-type thing, where I watched about 3/4 of The King’s Speech until I passed out from boredom. Overall success.
- When we got to Picton, there was a woman waiting at the station holding a sign with Kelsie’s last name on it, which was rather shocking, and made us feel all important and such, and hell yeah, I’d consider that a highlight. She then drove us to the car rental place (in our new rental car, “Prince,” another white Nissan Sunny) and sent us free on our way.
- KAIKOURA. Ahh, so beautiful. Picture, if you will, clear blue, crashing ocean that suddenly meets and somehow transitions into astonishingly whitegrayblue mountains. There’s really nothing in between them, or so it appears. It’s unreal. The beaches are clear and white, free of gross American tourists (except us), and parks, playgrounds, and trees abound. It’s quiet. The town is small, but it’s got a used bookshop, and in my mind that’s all it needed. We stayed at a hostel on the main road, near the waterfront, called “The Lazy Shag Backpackers,” the meaning of which remains ambiguous. It had amazing mountain views and we managed to get a room all to ourselves.
- Our one activity of significance in Kaikoura was this famous walk that everyone visiting apparently HAS to go on, called the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway, which, as its name implies, takes you all around the peninsula that Kaikoura is known for. We three decided to attempt the (supposedly) 3-4 hour walk, having nothing else planned and wishing to take in one of NZ’s most gorgeous places. So we head out on this walk, and it’s not that early in the day anymore, so the goal is really to get home reasonably before dark. What we did not realize was that a) our hostel was nowhere near even the beginning of this walkway, and b) the map we had was very deceiving in terms of distances. So we meander along, slowly but surely, taking in the beautiful landscapes as we go. We saw seals! Lots and lots of seals! A couple of hours into walking, we came across a seal colony, and holy eff were there a ton of seals. They were so cute I almost died. This colony was also the point at which the official Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway began. We were very tired already by this point, because it had been a long walk, but after some discussion we decided that we may as well keep going, because ultimately the walk was supposed to loop around back to where we started. At this point, though, it was getting later in the evening, and we knew we should probably walk a little faster if we wanted to get home in the not-completely-pitch darkness. So we head up this mountain in time to catch the Kaikoura sunset, which I honestly cannot even describe the awesomeness of. Sorry. There are no words. Totally worth all the ridiculousness to come. Speaking of which, things kind of got crazy after that. Sunsets tend to imply impending darkness, which we were well aware of, and for some reason assumed the rest of the walk would be easypeasylemonsqueezy. Wrong. We continue, chasing the remaining daylight home, and the path becomes more and more precarious. We’re on the edge of this massive cliff, following a path that is becoming increasingly nonexistent, and trying to keep our cool. No small feat. And then, all of a sudden the path is GONE. Peace out mofo. We attempt, at this point, to just follow our impeccable senses of direction (haha) to find our way. After crossing a very dimly lit, massive expanse of what I presumed to be sheep pasture, the path came back, and we, relieved, followed it. Perhaps another half an hour passed by, and it is now almost completely dark. At this point, we’re at total WTF point, and then… we come to a fence. And in this fenced enclosure there is not a massive expanse of sheep pasture, but instead a rather massive herd of cows (is that what you’d call it? A herd? I am sadly unlearned in bovine lingo.) and Kelsie freaks out. Because as it turns out, and as Brandi and I were surprised to discover, Kelsie has a fear of cows. Or rather, being trampled by them. All right. So now one of our team is incapacitated by fear as we convince her to try to keep going anyway. But about halfway through the cow enclosure, lo and behold there’s a bull. A BULL. Stopping dead in our tracks, we decide to reassess the situation, and choose turning back and subsequently LIFE over continuing on to our deaths. Hearts pounding, we manage to shuffle back to the fence and climb back over it. It was terrifying, but we survived. Only to realize the full gravity of our situation, which was that we were now about an hour into this mountain-top walk, in the now-pitch-blackness, with another two-ish-hour-long walk back to the hostel after we managed to get off the mountain. And I, being near-blind in the dark and thus rather terrified of our current predicament, freaked out. So needless to say, the trip back was oodles of fun. However, we somehow managed to find our way back. I slept well that night. And it was an excellent story to tell the grandchildren. Or it will be someday, when the pain and terror of the experience fades to a mild and humorous nostalgia.