A Travellerspoint blog

March 2011

Lazy Trip Down The Whanganui River

semi-overcast 25 °C

I awake bright and early to pack our car and load up on organic veggies. We say our goodbyes to our wwoofer friends before heading north along the west coast. Tomorrow we start a three night/four day canoe trip down the Whanganui River (pronounced Fong-a-newie). It will be an epic journey through deep cut gorges and down some raging rapids, but with our extensive training on the Saugeen River we'll be fine. Today, we have to reach Wades Landing, just north of the town of National Park, where we will be renting our canoe and camping for the night. Our first stop after leaving Harmony Farms is at Papaitonga Scenic Reserve for a quick jaunt through native vegetation to Papaitonga Lake. The “dune lake” formed over time by steady winds building up sand and damming off a stream from the ocean. This is our first walk on the North Island through native forest and its just as stunning as the South Island.

Further up the sandy west coast we reach the town of Whanganui located at the mouth of the largest navigable waterway in NZ, the Whanganui River. We take the winding scenic route up a shingle road beside the river to gaze over the waters that will carry us on our journey. Along the way we come to a slip which has pummelled sandy soils across the road. Luckily there are vehicle tracks through the sand and we barrel through the single lane safely. Finally after umpteen hairpin turns and Julie telling me slow down around every one we reach our destination. Julie checks us in at Wades Landing and they instruct us to have our gear packed into their waterproof barrels and be ready to leave by 8 am. Our essentials pack up nicely into 5 barrels and of course we have the cooler containing more essentials.

Slip Across Road

Slip Across Road

In the morning the sun greets us warmly as we load the truck and are driven to the launching point at Whakahoro (pronounced Fa-ka-whoro). With some aid from the driver, we get our canoe packed, we jump in, and our oars hit the water. The Whanganui River is 2 to 3 times larger than the Saugeen and is carved deeply into the soft sandstone/mudstone to form amazing sheer cliffs and waterfalls. I start fishing as soon as we reach a nice deep pool ripe with trout. The trout are huge and very feisty, causing trouble right away. I quickly went through my only two lures loosing 5 trout in the process! So, without any fish, we continue downstream, taking in the lush native fauna that drifts by. The riparian vegetation is made up of broadleaf podocarp forest, with beech trees dominant on ridge tops. We fly through deep rapids with Julie hollering out which way to steer the canoe to avert danger. Julie is frequently splashed by rogue waves rolling over the front of the canoe, so armed with only a bathing suit on we hit all rapids without fear of getting wet.

Waterfall Pouring Into Whanganui River

Waterfall Pouring Into Whanganui River


Whanganui River

Whanganui River

We pull into Ohauora campsite and are greeted by yellow caution tape across the trail leading up the bank to the camping area. Investigating further, we realize that a slip from the steep slopes above the campsite had destroyed the long drop toilets and left a trail of destruction. Our plan was to camp here but instead we forge on to the next spot, another two hours away. After a steady paddle, since the sun was dropping behind the gorge walls fast, we arrive at John Coull Hut and campsite. This is the where 95% of paddlers spend the night, and since we hadn't hurried our canoe trip in the morning we are one of last to setup camp. Luckily the rain waits to fall until after our tent is up and we are safely under the cooking shelter preparing our long awaited dinner.

Julie is All Smiles

Julie is All Smiles


Whanganui River

Whanganui River

The river is sign posted for each campsite and hut making it simple to find the many sites along the river. The campsites are spaced approximately 2 hours apart along the river, and the huts are spaced about 6 hours apart. Each campsite along the river has covered cooking areas with stainless steel counters and plenty of seating. There is a water tank which collects rain water from the roof of the shelter and a hand pump at the sink to provide rain water. It is a great well thought out system and we are thankful for such luxuries.

Through the night rain continues to fall, but with sunrise comes blue skies and another beautiful day on the river. Canoeing is an easy way to meet and chat with others paddling down stream. We canoe beside many couples, one particular pair offer to take pics of us, and us of them, with the plan to exchange e-mails and trade pics. For lunch, Julie spots a quiet pebble beach beside a small waterfall for a peaceful rest before continuing on.

Our days journey takes us alongside cliffs decorated with interesting lines and embedded rocks, and small caves and crevices. We reach The Bridge to Nowhere, where after docking the canoe and hiking for half an hour we find an interesting historic landmark. The bridge was completed in 1936 to provide access to farmland given to soldiers following World War One. But the settlement was abandoned and the bridge now stands deep in woods in the middle of nowhere.

Bridge to Nowhere Among the Forest

Bridge to Nowhere Among the Forest


Bridge to Nowhere Est. 1936

Bridge to Nowhere Est. 1936


Leaping off Cliffs

Leaping off Cliffs

We camp the night across the river from the Bridge to Nowhere at Mangapurua which turns out to be a very quiet choice as all other paddlers continue to Tieke Kainga, the next hut. The only sounds that fill the air as we hungrily eat dinner is the chirping of the fantails and the sound of them flying by catching bugs on their wings. Once the birds have had their fill, we fall asleep to cicadas humming and the river flowing. This is much more soothing than the previous night at the noisy John Coull Hut.

Cicada Humming

Cicada Humming

Julie and I set out on the river after a rejuvenating nights accommodation in our tent at Mangapurua. The waters are mirror like reflecting their surroundings, as we calmly make our way past trickling falls and waterfowl diving for breakfast. Cliff walls sandwich us in at times while paddling steady through the still waters. We reach Tieke Kainga, the full service hut and Maori Pa site to relax while having lunch. A Pa is a Maori meeting house used for funerals and weddings, among other community celebrations. They are sacred places which you must be invited into and you are not allowed to take photos within them.

Reflections in Whanganui River

Reflections in Whanganui River


Floating Along the Whanganui River

Floating Along the Whanganui River


Maori Carvings at Tieke Kainga

Maori Carvings at Tieke Kainga

Back on the Whanganui, we have another two hours of paddling to get to Ngaporo. This section of river is deep and slow with few rapids, so paddling is a must. We take turns paddling while the other lays back for a siesta. Eventually we hear the water roaring and get ready for some fast waters. We burst through the waves, taking on heaps of water and drift ashore to our last nights campsite, Ngaporo. Here we meet Peter, Dave and Bill, kiwis from Auckland and Northland New Zealand. They welcome us warmly to the site. They are in their mid 60's and drinking whiskey while bbqing up a feast of lamb steaks. After much conversation, Dave, from Kerikeri, invites us to drop into his home for a visit and even offers us his home to use as a base for exploring the Northland area. We have fun joking around with these old guys before watching another brilliant sun fall behind the forest on top of the clay cliffs lining the river.

View from Ngaporo Campsite

View from Ngaporo Campsite

We set out on our last day with thoughts of one last major rapid we must encounter named “Drop Scene”. With adrenaline pumping we make our way to the much anticipated finale after first stopping at a huge overhanging cliff and a secluded waterfall. Approaching the massive rapids, we dig in our paddles and Julie hollers directions to sneak down the right hand side out of the major waves that could swamp our canoe. We let out a cry of joy and relief after conquering the Drop Scene, now back to the lazy river that we know and love.

Looking Out of Cave Along Whanganui River

Looking Out of Cave Along Whanganui River


Waterfall and Pool

Waterfall and Pool


Fossils Along Whanganui Shore

Fossils Along Whanganui Shore


Julie Relaxing Before Hitting the Rapids

Julie Relaxing Before Hitting the Rapids


Drop Scene Rapids (Unknown Paddlers)

Drop Scene Rapids (Unknown Paddlers)

Today's short two hour paddle comes to an end in Pipiriki where we wait for Wades Landing to shuttle us back to their home base. It was an amazing 87.5 km journey through dense wilderness on a picturesque river with my best friend. We've had a blast and encourage others to travel down the Whanganui by canoe. With the remainder of the day, we hop in our car and head to Turangi, the trout fishing capital of the world. Here we will wwoof at Awhi (pronounced a-fee) Farms.

Along the way we pass the Tongariro National Park, home to the ominous Mt. Doom and Mt. Tongariro, two active volcanos. We have plans to hike the Tongariro Crossing in the coming days and hope for clear skies, since currently it is shrouded in cloud. It's Saturday night and the guys from Awhi Farms (Bowman, Urban and Alex) are out selling wood fired pizzas by the road to make some cash. They have made a cob oven from clay and mounted it on a trailer to tow wherever pizzas are in demand. We have a great dinner of pizza before retiring for the night in our tent at the back of the farm.

Urban's Pizza Oven Sales

Urban's Pizza Oven Sales

Posted by ontarions 18:50 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Living in Harmony...

...in Otaki.

semi-overcast 24 °C

After an introduction to the other wwoofers, Peter, Joya, and Catlin, and an extensive tour of Harmony Farm (HF), we sit down with everyone for dinner. Ron and Leanne really promote giving thanks to the food we eat since it all comes from the earth and shouldn't be taken for granted.

Leanne Working in the Kitchen

Leanne Working in the Kitchen

In terms of work, Julie gets the assignment of putting together a couple of educational YouTube videos about building a solar shower and making seed propagating pots from newspaper. She also designs an educational flow chart of the water cycle with human influences. Aside from these tasks she upholsters a bench for the wwoofer's cabin by reusing carpet underlay and carpet. I take on the task of building a coat rack from olive wood and a nice piece of reclaimed lumber, and making saw horses from various used materials. We are also quite involved in preparing for Leanne's 50th birthday party this weekend. This includes preparing compost toilets, designing a fire pit, putting together seating for 80 people, preparing food, and gathering bbq's from neighbours. It is going to be an awesome party and everyone can't wait for the weekend.

Wind Shelter for Feijoa Trees

Wind Shelter for Feijoa Trees


Feijoa Trees

Feijoa Trees


Feijoa Flower

Feijoa Flower

During our afternoons off work we head to the beach, check out the local artsy markets, and score some good buys at the outlet stores in Otaki. One afternoon we head to Waikanae Wetland Restoration Site and meet John Topliff. Julie came across this intriguing restoration site on the internet before we left home and emailed John to find out if we could help in some way. Being a good-hearted kiwi John invited us strangers into his home and offered to take us on a self-guided tour. John started removing invasive plants and planting trees alongside the river, in the floodplain, and in and around a wetland 35 years ago. He was not asked to do this, he just recognized that it needed to be done and he did it, he did not ask for help and expected no help. Eventually he was recognized for his work, and now that he is elderly the Council has offered to take on the project and continue his good work. John is a very inspirational man and our conversation went from ecology to life and death. This experience will never be forgotten and it made us realize how everything that happens in life happens for a reason. Life is a journey and not everything is in your control. Even so, love the life you live and live the life you love.

Waikanae Wetland Restoration by John Topliff

Waikanae Wetland Restoration by John Topliff

Back at HF, the birthday party starts on Friday with a bon-fire. As the fire crackles everyone shares a story, some words of wisdom, or says something special to Leanne. The party continues into Saturday, the highlight being a potluck dinner with a roasted hogget (a juvenile sheep older than 1 year). There are games to play and live music to listen to. Julie and I, and the rest of the wwoofers help throughout the day setting up and cleaning up etc.

Ron Carving The Hogget

Ron Carving The Hogget

Wwoofing at HF has really reinforced the need for each of us to use every resource the earth offers us wisely and not to take anything for granted. For example, by filling a mug with water first and then pouring it into the empty kettle to boil you are not using any more electricity or water than you need. This is a great tip that everyone can easily practice. Our time at HF has also made us realize how much of our 'garbage' can actually be reused. Items we throw away can be used create something else you just have to be creative.

HF was our first time wwoofing with a group of people, which made for great laughs and someone to talk to other than Julie! We met great people from around the globe, each person with their own stories and helpful hints to share. So after ten days at HF it was tough to say goodbye to the new friends we had made.

WWoofers at Harmony Farm

WWoofers at Harmony Farm

Posted by ontarions 18:25 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Windy Welly

...beginning of the North Island tour.

overcast 22 °C

We check out of the hostel after a horribly windy night that kept us wondering if the old creaky building would be still standing in the morning. The high winds continue as we stroll the Wellington streets hitting a few tourist hot spots. First off is the uniquely shaped parliament building called the beehive, a strange piece of architecture. The 120 km/hr gusts then blow us over to Old St. Paul's Church which was constructed entirely of beautifully carved native timber in 1866.

Ghondi Monument at Wellington Train Station

Ghondi Monument at Wellington Train Station


Wellington Parliment Buildings - The Beehive

Wellington Parliment Buildings - The Beehive


Old St. Paul's Church

Old St. Paul's Church


Old St. Paul's Church

Old St. Paul's Church

From the church, we make our way north to the hip heart beat of the city, Cuba Street. Cuba Street is lined with clever cafes, lively bars, and one-of-a-kind shops. On our way out of the city, our feet sore from covering miles of pavement, we take a detour through Aro Valley. This old neighbourhood of hippies is built along steep valley slopes with some crazy “deck” driveways.

We drive east out of the city into the clouds over the Rimutaka Range on a switchback road. The scenery is probably spectacular but the visibility is down to roughly 20 meters. Finally, we arrive at our campsite on the edge of Tararua Forest Park, with the winds still blasting. Julie finds a sheltered area for the tent just before the lights dim and we are covered in darkness.

Julie and I wake after yet another gusty night in the tent. We take a stroll to the rivers edge to relax before packing up and moving south along the coast to Cape Palliser. Along the way we suit up for a short hike into the Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve. Up the gravelly river bed we go, then up to a lookout point high over the organ pipe formations which have formed over millions of years from erosion. We scamper back down to the riverbed and deeper into the gorge to stand at the base of the towering stacks. They are extremely fragile and we must keep watch for debris tumbling earthward. It's incredibly hot in the deep gorge, as we feel like we are being baked in an stone oven, so we decide to head back to the car.

View of Putangirua Pinnacles

View of Putangirua Pinnacles


Putangirua Pinnacles

Putangirua Pinnacles

Putangirua Pinnacles

Putangirua Pinnacles

Julie and Putangirua Pinnacles

Julie and Putangirua Pinnacles

Further south along the coast we pass the small fishing village of Ngawi with a strange assortment of bulldozers lined up along the beach. There isn't a harbour, so the fishermen pull their boats out of the water everyday and park them with their uniquely painted dozer.

Bulldozers and Boats in Ngawi

Bulldozers and Boats in Ngawi

The coast to Cape Palliser is scattered with sun bathing fur seals and miles of turquoise seascape behind the odd black sandy beach. We reach Cape Palliser and its candy red stripes high on a cliff above the road. The sun is still blazing down and walking up the 200 or so steps to the lighthouse doesn't seem like fun right now. As fast as we reach the cape, we turn around and head back north to Greytown, NZ's first inland settlement.

Cape Palliser Lighthouse

Cape Palliser Lighthouse

Greytown is also home to NZ's oldest intact main street. Wooden Victorian style buildings line the streets and are home to an array of cafes and artsy shops. After a short walk along the historic streets, we return to the same campsite as the night before and cool off with a swim in the Tauherenikau River. There are plenty of locals swimming and jumping off the cliff into the refreshing waters. We are told the dark river is home to some massive eels, so we make our swim a quick one before chilling on the rocks.

Tauherenikau River and Gorge

Tauherenikau River and Gorge

In the morning we pack up once again and make our way towards the west coast and the home of Harmony Farm. Along the way we stop in Lower Hutt for some op-shopping and a picnic lunch in the dunes of the Queen Elizabeth Park.

Harmony Farm is run by Ron and Leanne and a steady army of wwoofers. It's going to be a unique permiculture environment to live and work in over the next 10 days, we are very excited to be here.

Posted by ontarions 03:40 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Our Reflection of the South Island, New Zealand

...moving.

all seasons in one day

When we initially flew into Christchurch all I could see from the plane was farmland, which made me wonder if I misinterpreted the amount of natural beauty and natural ecosystems found here. But we were fooled by the view from the plane. The South Island has a vast amount of parks, National, Regional, Scenic Reserves etc., which enclose the natural and native beauty of New Zealand.

Our experiences on the South Island were filled with numerous natural experiences in pristine environments. Our favourite hikes were the alpine hikes as they were linked to surreal views when the weather co-operated. High on these mountain environments we discovered plants and bugs we had never seen before. All of these had adapted thick scaley membranes to protect them from the wind and cold. We also were blown away by the lush rain forests layered with diverse flora, the coloured lichens wrapping around tree trunks, the dense sprawling matts of mosses, the dangling old man's beard (a common lichen), the fresh fern fronds within vibrant green fern patches, and the thick gnarled branches of various beech trees. Never in my life have I seen such a diversity of species in a forest. It show prooves just how complex nature is, and how humans can never truly duplicate all aspects of an ecosystem, try as they might.

While on the South Island we stepped foot in every National Park. Of all the tramps and trails we completed my favourite two, because I can't choose just one, was Avalanche Peak and Gertrude Saddle. The two day tramp to Crow's Hut over Avalanche Peak was packed with jaw-dropping views, and the Hut was remote, quiet, and surrounded by towering mountains in a glacial river valley. The day hike to Gertrude Saddle was a favourite because our eyes never tired and your attention was always occupied by the various terrain and ecosystems we passed through. The views from both of these hikes were phenomenal and upon reaching the summit/saddle we felt like we were on top of the world. The images our eyes captured will never be forgotten.

Another favourite part of the South Island was Doubtful Sound. It was as if it hadn't been touched by humans. It is pristine. It is remote.

The South Island is laid back and not build up, and it is vast with few people, both of which are exactly what we needed. Throughout all of the South Island we never saw a shopping mall. Sure we came across big box stores like Warehouse (an equivalent in Canada would be Zellers or Walmart) but these were few and far between. The only highway that contained more than one lane in each direction was North of Christchurch. If I were to live in New Zealand I would have chosen Christchurch as my favourite city, however you would have to be crazy to move to that city now. As the two recent earthquakes have made it known that the city lays on top of a fault line. I would have lived in Christchurch as it is such a clean city with beautiful heritage buildings, incredibly friendly people, a great walkable downtown, and great parks. However, since the second earthquake all that has changed.

The people of the South Island are generally pretty chill and laid back. They have a day by day attitude, never knowing what they were going to eat for dinner or where they would be heading tomorrow. They are incredibly trusting and welcome strangers into their home. We have a few experiences with this. One of these experiences happened in ?? where I stopped at the library looking to use the internet. The librarian said they didn't have it but walked me across the street to her house so I could check my email! People who weren't affected by the second Christchurch earthquake were offering extra space in their homes to those who needed a place to live. The generosity and kindness of the kiwis are amazing and it would do the world wonders if there were more people like them around!

In terms of food we had a few surprises while on the South Island. You would think that with NZ being a small island surrounded by ocean sushi would be quite common. But surprisingly it is rare as they don't have the Japanese population to open up the restaurants. Another surprise of ours was the difficulty in finding sheep dairy products. Despite my efforts which consisted of looking in every grocery and health store I entered I never found any milk or yoghurt on the South Island. However, sheep cheese was fabulous although also hard to find. Other food discoveries included the meat pie, an amazing and common New Zealand savory.

The things we will not miss about this island include the clouds of sand flies. And if there weren't clouds of them there were tornadoes of them, all targeting your ankles. Our ankles now look like we had an outbreak of the chicken pox and are covered in red scars. These sand fly bites itch for days, it is nothing like a mossy bite which only itches for a few hours. But yes, they have those too!

Move the map around to get a visual of our route and to access photos of our stops along the way.

Posted by ontarions 02:55 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

The Grand Finale

...of the South Island.

semi-overcast 25 °C

Good morning Julie! Good morning Nate! We rise refreshed and ready to explore Nelson Lakes National Park. It is another rugged landscape full of roaming mountain ranges. We crank out a quick breakfast, pack a bag and head down to Lake Rotoiti. I bring my fishing gear to try my luck at the head of the Buller River which pours out of Lake. It's easy to spot the trout sniffing my lure but they aren't into what I've got to offer. As I try my luck, Julie relaxes by the river's edge listening to its calming ripples flowing past.

It's another fine day and our legs are feeling rested and ready to conquer the next mountain. We choose to scamper up the St. Arnaud Range Track for a quick nosey along the ridge. As we zig-zag up through the beech forest, we notice how it adapts to suit the changing altitude. The species change as we climb higher and the tree growth becomes stunted near the tree line. The afternoon heat beats down and we end up shirtless, good thing Julie is wearing her bathing suit. Emerging from the tree line, the Parachute Rocks jut out abruptly from the mountain side. Julie's legs are feeling fatigued but we continue another half hour through snow tussock, then sub-alpine shrubs, and then alpine herb fields. Finally we reach the highest ridge (1650 m) that runs like a spine up to the next peak. To the west from the ridge Lake Rotoiti's bays and peninsulas are well defined and surrounded with dense native forest while the town of St. Arnaud sits a little further away. Peering over the other side of the ridge to the east, alpine bogs are scattered over the terrain and the Wairau River flows far below in the valley. Once again we are in awe with 360 degree views and are reminded why we put ourselves through these somewhat gruelling uphill climbs. Julie notices a rumbling cloud advancing quickly towards us, so we make a quick escape down from this amazing vista.

Lake Rotoiti from St. Arnaud Range Track

Lake Rotoiti from St. Arnaud Range Track


Yoga on Parachute Rocks

Yoga on Parachute Rocks


View from St. Arnaud Ridge of Alpine Bogs and Wairau River

View from St. Arnaud Ridge of Alpine Bogs and Wairau River


Ridge along St. Arnaud Range Track

Ridge along St. Arnaud Range Track

Another day arrives and it's time for us to pack up and keep moving north. We head to Nelson and stop at the library to catch up with overloaded e-mail accounts. I sit and quickly upload photos for the blog while Julie is off to discover the spirit of Nelson. She returns to the library after watching buskers entertain and after listening to a reggae band performing on the street. Our night is spent tenting on a tiny piece of lawn at a downtown backpackers hostel in the rain.

Sunday arrives and it's time to hit the much anticipated Nelson market in Montgomery Square. The huge weekly event organically spills throughout the downtown setting. Julie is in heaven discovering local clothing designers and alternative food choices. We recognize some of the venders from the Motueka Farmers Market and return to them to stock up on natural soaps, organic venison salami, and other products. After fully indulging at the market we make our way out of Nelson, and by chance we pass the Founders Brewery, an organic company. They brew some amazing suds, so I stock up for sipping by the campfire in the coming days.

We head for Marlborough Sounds and decide to head for the farthest campsite from civilization at Waimaru Bay Recreation Reserve. The long winding road to the DOC campground passes some extraordinary coast and native bush. Marlborough Sounds seems nice at first glance but looking closer you'll notice livestock roaming through streams and along ocean shorelines, large pine plantations, clear cut mountain sides, and mussel farms filling every secluded bay. The mussel farms are evident as numerous floating buoys in grid-like formations, while under the water's surface cables hang down on which mussels attach themselves.

Finally, after the long drive on winding shingle roads we reach the campsite and are a bit disappointed. This “Recreation Reserve” doesn't have a close beach to access and the campsite is surrounded by cattle paddocks. Across the bay our view isn't so great either as it consists of hillsides of pine plantations, some clear cut for export. We debate whether or not we should find another campground when I notice a family walking down the road through the paddock with beach gear in hand. We figure there must be a beach nearby, so after setting up the tent we explore further down the gravel road.

Luckily, about a 10 minute walk away we find a small trail through the forest revealing a quiet pebbly bay, Wairamu Bay, that is perfect for swimming and hopefully fishing. I head back to the car grab my fishing gear and return to the beach to scamper out along the jagged rocks to the point. Before the sun vanishes for the day, I catch a sunfish and a red cod. I return both to the ocean hoping to catch more in the coming days. Before I return to camp I stop to chat with a pair of campers next to us. They invite us for a campfire later which is awesome since we haven't had one since Hawaii. Campfires are banned nearly everywhere in NZ, including here, but at this remote location lighting one up shouldn't cause a stir.

Waimaru Bay

Waimaru Bay

Julie and I watch a beautiful glowing sunset over the mountains and realize how special this place really is. It is really peaceful and quiet except for the hum of the recently emerged cicadas, their exoskeletons left clinging to the trees. The stars slowly emerge and we join our neighbouring campers at their fire. We chat with the couple from Nelson about anything and everything and burn through a huge pile of gathered dead fall before retiring for night.

Sunset from Waimaru Campsite

Sunset from Waimaru Campsite

Over the next three days we spend time exploring as far into the reserve as our car could make it before the gnarly road became impassable. We discover another beach near Te Purako Point, that is even more secluded and beautiful than the beach near our campsite. We settle into the perfect little shade hut built out of driftwood and tree fern leaves standing in the sand a few hundred metres down the shore. Julie relaxes while I desperately try to catch dinner without any luck. Determined to bring something to the dinner table, I decide to try fishing off the rocks at Wairamu Bay but the only seafood I manage to catch is a pot of mussels gathered at low tide.

Relaxing in our Tent

Relaxing in our Tent


Rasta Fun

Rasta Fun


Dinner at Waimaru Campsite

Dinner at Waimaru Campsite


Te Puraka Point

Te Puraka Point


Driftwood Hut

Driftwood Hut


View from Hut on Beach

View from Hut on Beach

On the last night we manage to kill our car's battery by having the netbook plugged in for only minutes. Fortunately, the farmer down the road promises to come by in the morning to boost us. We have booked the 1pm ferry from Picton to the North Island and we will need to leave the campground by 10am. In the morning, however, for some reason our car won't boost so we call CAA to come to the rescue (for the second time during this trip!). After waiting for 2 ½ hours the mechanic drives in and instantly revives the Hobbit. We thank the friendly mechanic and race to Picton. Julie had moved our ferry time back but maybe we could still catch an earlier one. With my stealth driving skills we make it to Picton and are the last car to sneak onto the ferry with minutes to spare. Julie gathers some lunch and the laptop and we get comfortable for the 3 hour boat ride to the North Island. It was such a rush getting to the ferry that Julie feels like she didn't get to say goodbye to the beautiful South Island.

As the ferry cruises towards Wellington the soaring cliffs of the North Island come slowly into view from the ships deck. There aren't any lush native forests to be seen, just sprawling city and grazing land. We roll out of the docked vessel onto the bustling streets of New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. We head to the grocery store and it's busy, everyone seems to be in a hurry, and its stressful! We feel really out of place coming from the laid back South Island, not being exposed to a city this size for months. Julie is baffled at how quickly and easily we are pulled into the fast-paced stressful city life and worries this is what will happen when we return home.

Aboard Ferry from Picton to Wellington

Aboard Ferry from Picton to Wellington

After this shockingly hectic trip to the grocery store we find a hostel with a room and make a delicious dinner. Julie suggests driving up to Mt. Victoria for the sunset, so we follow the winding roads up past some interesting houses to the summit. We miss the sunset but gaze over the city as street lights flicker on creating a sparkling landscape. We discover the meaning behind Wellington's nickname of “Windy Welly” as huge gusts make it impossible for Julie to use her tripod.

Night Glow of Wellington from Mt. Victoria

Night Glow of Wellington from Mt. Victoria


Night Glow of Wellington from Mt. Victoria

Night Glow of Wellington from Mt. Victoria

What a long day from boosting the car to watching the flickering city of Wellington from Mt. Victoria. Our journey of the North Island has just begun and from Julie's research there is going to be some unique adventures in the next few months.

Posted by ontarions 01:53 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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