Monday: I got up at the unearthly hour of 5am this morning to catch my first kiwi experience bus, it was pretty smooth – one thing to note: ferry tickets are not included, I’m not sure why I thought anything else but I assumed it was included, a quick dash to a cash machine and I was away!

We caught the inter-islander ferry which was great. I met a German girl (or maybe Austrian), she looked really young and I just remember thinking ‘she is so brave!’. She was really relaxed and hitchhiking in some parts! Obviously my mind flashed to horror stories of people being chopped up and other terrible possibilities. I really admired what she’d done so far and how chilled she was, while accepting that style isn’t necessarily for me.

We sailed through Marlborough sound while I read more of the book ‘love with a chance of drowning’ with a new appreciation for the sea, being on this boat and the adventure that Torre DeRoche undertook. I mean I knew it was a big adventure, but, being on the ocean on a boat made me realise how little I know about anything nautical.

Picking up my checked baggage was an experience in itself. I managed to find mine and couldn’t help but overhear some Kiwi’s saying ‘it’s like being in a foreign country’ (pause) ‘well we are *chuckle chuckle*’ and so the notorious rivalry between islands (an islanders) begins! My mind wanders back to a shop assistant my roomie and I quizzed on ‘must do NZ activities’ recommendations who joked they refer to the South Island as ‘the main land’. 

The South Island is famed for its beauty so I’m pretty excited to see it. There are way less people down here, the bus guide said its because the winters here are far colder so settlers prefer the north, particularly the Maori.

The driver quickly mentioned there is someone on board with a severe nut allergy, and asks if we can refrain from eating nuts on the bus. I think back to the nut and chocolate protein bar I’d eaten an hour earlier, the evidence in the form of a wrapper in my bag, tucked between pistachio white chocolate nibbles, Nutella and peanut butter. Wow. The bag is remaining closed.

At present, I can’t compare my bus driver to anyone else, this is my first experience, but so far, he’s really great! He’s really informative, really enthusiastic and super organised.

We made a pit stop in Nelson and learnt a lot about it, including that it was the first established city and that it is actually the centre of NZ! I’ve been speaking to a few different people, they’re all pretty friendly so far and the people I’m sharing a room with are great! I’m really happy except they’re hopping off tomorrow (staying here two nights) whereas I’m off again. 

Unfortunately, this also means that I can’t do the Abel Tasman walk I have been so looking forward to because it didn’t make minimum numbers. I could have opted to take the kayaking trip, but I kayaked in Croatia July 2015. It was great because it’d been on my as-of-yet-unwritten-bucket-list for ages! It didn’t quite go how I’d imagined and I think this was largely due to me… 

I paired up with my buddy and she quickly began to lose enthusiasm when she realised two crucial things about me: not only am I total novice, but it quickly became apparent that I have the upper body strength of a small child. There were some brilliant moments of sheer hilarious comedy, like when my friend (broad Scottish) and I (English) were chatting two girls from the south coast of England and they asked us where we were from… Like, really? We looked at each other and found this absolutely hysterical, while questioning what on earth we must sound like (had hanging around with Canadians for a week rubbed off on us that much already?!).

As we found the strength to paddle on, we made it half way around the island we were circling, only to find naked men shooting the breeze, without a care in the world. Just flapping away. There was no where to look, we simply couldn’t paddle away fast enough. 

It feels odd to say ‘I’m disappointed’ when I’m standing on this beach (see photo). 

   

 

How could anyone be disappointed with this? When I got here (to New Zealand), I decided I wanted to walk the Abel Tasman costal trail – all 60km (or 5 days of 12k hikes) of it. But after the zealandia fright, I reasoned I’d only do it with someone (guided walks or tours are REALLY expensive, as in, I’d like to do this but I cannot justify that amount of money, particularly when there is still so much I want to do). A day trip seemed like the perfect solution, except there weren’t enough numbers. 

I remind myself of where I am, how beautiful this place is, and I to make the most of every opportunity on this trip. I make friends with my roomies, including a girl who lives in my home city, shares my passion for volunteer conservation projects and group tours (hoorah!). I feel like I have met a kindred spirit. This joy is interrupted when I realise she and my roomies are staying an extra day, and I am not. Although I may catch them at the Franz Josef glacier. 

It’s been a great first day, I already know this time is going to go so fast. 

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