NZ: Where all good things are on mount-hills

Since the glory of Queenstown I’ve been to Franz Josef Glacier…which…was underwhelming, especially seeing as how the ‘2 hour return easy walk’ was really 3 hours …if you took the right track…and if you took the wrong track, twice it was nearly 4 hours, and not a light walk that could be done in flip flops, but actually a series of mini-mountain climbs to see a quickly melting chunk of ice on a mountain. Upside, Montrose backpackers was a total hit for 20 bucks a night.

Then the bus stopped at Punaikaki (Spelling??) where the bus gives you 20 minutes to walk 2km and take photos of rocks that look like stacks of pancakes (arguable)…which is cool….but you definitely feel like you should have more time than you do.

Next was Nelson, which is a main hub to get to the Abel Tasman National Park…which is supposed to be beautiful, and I’m sure it is…but was it as beautiful enough to outweigh my exhaustion from the forever walk to Franz Josef? …not the first day…then the second day I went to markets. The Nelson Markets–amazing!! SO many great vendors of food, produce, jewellery, purses, and more. Unfortunately I have a knack for being really interested in anything hand/home made, and am great at making conversation with old people. More unfortunately, unlike in malls or other retail situations, when I’ve been talking to the person who directly profits from my business for half an hour I feel required to make a purchase….I did mostly refrain, but I have a surplus of plums (Mr. Plum), and 4 for $2.50 avocados….and way too many sunflower seeds. But some brands worth noting: Jewels Vine ( amazing hand made jewlery, he makes things like owls, robots, and other pendants with over 10 pieces per unit which is crazy detail…ALL by hand!), Glen Wood Craft (amazing bowls and plates made from cross sections of massive trees….I talked to him for probably 45 minutes, the last 15 about how the resin keeps hot pasta hot…fun fact…seriously GORGEOUS pieces, all hand carved), and Kohl & Cochineal which had amazing hand bags…like gorgeous, like samsara ish style but with luscious leather, and the market sells her one of a kind testers… a bit of an investment from 200-500 per bag, but totally worth it for such unique pieces.

Anyway that was exhausting…yes, I’m referring to the 6 hours I spent chatting up vendors and eating jam samples….so went back to Paradiso Backpackers (and propped myself up by the pool), the next day I was still fairly knackered so I decided to take what was recommended as a ‘light stroll’ to the center of New Zealand…the actual geographical centre…based on what, I don’t know…the point is that it was a 20 minute up hill climb, and of course, I was wearing my tried and true old navy flip flops once again. I will say on that note that everyone with Havaiianas as had their flipsflips bust and mine have been killing it for almost 4 months.

So, then I was tired again, walked the 5km along the different parks and gardens by the water and called it a night. Then I was determined to see the sand and still waters of Abel Tasman…then it rained…additionally it was the super bowl. Which leads me to a somewhat humorous moment of asking my roommates if anybody wanted to go watch it with me. The response: 9 blank stares, and a German asking “Is that a food competition?”

I managed to find Germans who did know what it was….not anything about it but what it was. So we watched at the hostel while they searched every call and rule then google translated it to German…Not quite the party we see at home…ohhhh and we got KFC take out, that part is the only ‘superbowl–ish’ component of the story.

Then off to Picton I went where I stayed at Atlantis backpackers. Lovely place, run by a family….free breakky and dessert so no complaints from me for 15 a night from nakedsleep. This was the 3rd in a row of independent hostels with hand made wooden bunkbeds that don’t creek when you climb into the top bunk, have heaps of couches, free tea/coffee/spices in the kitchen, and a way homier feel…definitely peeved I got ripped off on my base bed hopper pass…do independent hostels in New Zealand!! So then this morning the hostel owner Sheira (Sooooo great, goes above and beyond all the time offering rides and coordinating sweet activities, and singing …not that that reminds me of home…but it makes it seem like somebody’s home) took us to a Maori tribe to be welcomed in for the celebration. It’s kind of like the opposite of independence day…it celebrates when the Maori and discoverers agreed upon peace over the land. Anyway, the building we went to was stunning and had amazing artwork done within the last 20 years and the people were super friendly. This could open up a ton of discussion on the way Canada/Oz/NZ treat our aboriginals…but I’ll leave that for a later time when I feel like stirring the pot.

Now I’m on the ferry from Picton to Wellington down the Cook Strait which is between the north and south islands of new zealand. You can take the interislander or bluebridge. Bluebridge worked out 5 dollars cheaper booking online and didn’t require a 2 dollar online booking fee, but either way you’ll expect to pay around 50 bucks for this ride. It is a 3 hour ferry through some gorgeous sounds though…almost a mini Milford. Bluebridge is great, they play movies on plasma TVs have free unlimited wifi, tons of cafeteria/bar/lounge/kiosk space and a large viewing deck. Its all new and clean, I can’t compare to the interislander but I’d definitely ride Bluebridge again! (I think they are the up and coming independent brand…interislander is public and the water version of the intercity buses.

Now off to Wellington! A friend told me nitro circus is there…won’t be hitting that up BUT There’s a massive travel expo for the flight center where I’m hoping to find a sweet deal on a tour to Africa! Coming up on the north island: Tongariro Crossing, Waitomo Caves, the Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Islands, and visiting a couple friends from home!….busy 3 weeks ahead…oh and booking the first legs of ASIAAAAAAA

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