Tuesday, 1 January 2013

South Island Excursion, Part 1

So the first post of the year happens to fall on the first day of 2013. We trust everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable festive season. Susan, Elsje and I are currently sitting - drowsy and content - in a cosy backpackers in Golden Bay, about 80km from the Abel Tasman National Park, on the north-west coast of New Zealand's south island. We have just finished a three-day hike and thought we'd check in and show off some piccies before we carry on :)

Six days ago we took the ferry from Wellington and landed on the south island at Picton. We stayed overnight, and the next day we were off into the Marlborough sounds to look for dolphins to swim with. We found some Hector's dolphins (pictured below) and some enthusiastic 'common' dolphins who gave us the impression they wanted a swim, but ultimately they made a sport of making the humans chase them around the sounds.

A Hector's dolphin checking us out

The very next day we took a drive to Nelson, and after a night in a dodgy backpackers we were off to the Abel Tasman National Park for a three-day hike. It was astoundingly beautiful there: all golden beaches, turquoise water and dramatic headlands covered in lush native forests. The hike itself was also really gentle  so we had ample opportunity to take in the the scenery and to simply enjoy the experience. It gave us all a taste of what New Zealand is famed for, and really, what I think this place is truly all about. We met a lot of foreign tourists who did little more than rave about the natural beauty of the place, and we actually picked up a load of tips and suggestions on places to check out on the rest of our journey.

I call this one 'Point and Click' because that's all you have to do in the Abel Tasman to get an awesome picture.

Walking from bay to bay, we came across many a  private 'bach' (pronounced 'batch,' which is basically a beach house), and I think I now understand something of the Kiwi mentality behind the desire for 'a bach, a boat and a Beamer.' These folks truly know how to relax.

So now, after three days of glorious hiking and a day of recovery in the beautiful Golden Bay, we are headed further south, via the west coast, to see the glaciers.

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