A Travellerspoint blog

Day 76: Friday 17th May 2013

Soggy Friday

semi-overcast 21 °C

We woke up reasonably early: eager to get on the road before we got moved on from our overnight spot, or fined, or both! We went into town and despite the rain had a quick look around. The rain was torrential. I have become aware of my reluctance to 'get involved' when the weather is wet, I'm not sure I was always like that or if, after so many sunny days in Australia, I have just become more picky: I'm sure after a couple of weeks in the UK that will change! We managed to see some of the town before taking refuge from the rain in the local library: it had free wifi!
We decided to move our Sunday activity in Wotomo to Saturday so we weren't hanging around waiting for Sunday: we were both keen to make the most of our last few days if travelling. Once our black water rafting had been confirmed for first thing Saturday morning we set off for Wotomo. The original plan was to do the Alpine walk, which is reputed to be one of the best walks in the country but the rain was due to stick around for the next 3 days; we decided to give it a miss, especially as we weren't fully equipped for the potential weather conditions.
We arrived late afternoon in Wotomo and checked into the holiday park. The park was pretty nice and we enjoyed making our last evening meal in the camp kitchens before getting an early night.

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 04:58 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 75: Thursday 16th May 2013

Platter, Picton and New Plymouth

semi-overcast 18 °C

Martin woke early and did some exercise in the freezing cold (I think he is up to 250 press ups now along with an impressively large number of other elastic band stretching activities) I slept! We were on the road by 9, first stop Blenheim for a second go at the platters served up at Gesens: our new favourite vineyard! We tucked into the same meal as last time: we visited Blenheim 4 weeks ago when we arrived in the South Island and we both wanted a second helping. Enforce we said goodbye to the south and headed on our final leg back to Auckland.
The food and wine were as good if not better than I remember, smoked fish, meats and strong cheese accompanied by our favourite Riesling: yum!
We tapped away on their free Internet for a while before heading off to catch the ferry. In the ferry terminal we got chatting to another passenger who had a beautiful black lab cross, he had visited England and was singing its praises saying how he loved the culture, its always interesting to hear someone else's perspective and it wetted our appetites for returning home: in less than a weeks time- how exciting!
We sat for a while on the benches outside on deck, we were kept warm by the exhaust fumes from the ferry engine until the fumes got too much and started giving us head aches! We managed to get some beautiful photos of the South Island as it dissapeared in the distance before we headed inside.
On arrival in the south island we retraced the route we had taken previously until we headed north west towards our next destination: New Plymouth. On the outskirts of town we tried to find somewhere to park up and freedom camp for the night: it was probably the hardest place for finding somewhere to stay on our entire trip. After nearly getting stuck and turning around countless times we settled for a tourist information layby right on the side of the main road: not ideal but we were getting tired. We quickly prepared the van and got into bed. We are both looking forwards to sleeping in a normal bed where we don't have to build it every night!

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 04:57 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 74: Wednesday 15th May 2013

Coastal Tramping

sunny 15 °C

We were eager to get going and not miss the boat so left the campsite in plenty of time to get back to the pick up point. We busied ourself with computer stuff until our transport arrived. I wasn't expecting to be picked up in the carpark by the boat but we were: pitched on the back of its trailer we all boarded our corresponding boats depending on where we were being dropped off, and then the tractor pulled us the short distance to the beach at which point the tractor driver hopped out and got in the boat and another guy drove the tractor until the water was deep enough to release us and the boat on our way.
En route a number of points of interest were pointed out: apple rock which was a round circular rock shaped just like an apple which looked like it had been cut in half, a small New Zealand fur seal colony and a point on the walk we had to beach of. The views were as usual spectacular, the beaches with their clean white sands, clear blue waters and endless forest surrounds were so perfect they didn't look real.
We were soon at run drop off point: Barks Bay from here we were to head south to anchorage which would take just over 3 hours for our pick up at 3:30, we had plenty of time. We set off amidst a small group of people who had disembarked at this point. We were soon spread out along the route and therefore quite alone in this wonderful wilderness. The tree covered cliffs didn't give the best views out to sea but did provide an ever changing landscape of New Zealand at its wildest. We chatted as we walked, stopping frequently and taking the numerous detours available to points of interest until we reached a clearing and beach.
Although Abel Tasman is a national park, it had only been given park status in the last 50 years, before that it had, technically been farmed (though not in the tractor and crop sense which we would imagine) people had also build houses on the 100 lots which were sold in the area. When the area was given park status the houses were allowed to stay, in the last seven years they have gone up in value by 500% and looking at their surroundings it was no wonder, the views were that of desert island tales.
We stopped just outside a small hamlet of these houses to eat lunch, looking out across the beach and bay as a sea transport company loaded an old caravan onto its deck, an old couple stood by watching, presumably the owners who live in the park; only accessible by boat these houses used to run on diesel but now use solar and battery powered and act as an ideal retreat for a holiday home or retirement pad.
We took our time over lunch: we could see our pick up point in the distance and with nearly 3 hours to go and only 3 miles left we were confident we had plenty of time. After lunch we continued our walk, stopping at toilets on the way, the bay between us and our pick up had 2 route options depending on tidal levels. The tide was high, as the boat driver had explained earlier, and so we needed to take the longer route which took the high ground and bridge. We took another couple of detours en route to view a stream and a good view point, before reaching our final destination: the beach at anchorage. We still had 45 minutes until pick up, the sun was out in the clear blue sky so we decided to have a paddle in the clear blue inviting waters. It was a bit cold to as the least! Thankfully it was only my ankles and feet which were getting wet! Loads of fish eggs were being washed up in the waters too: we found out later it is prime season for this. We were poking at the sweet corn like clumps of white jelly like children, trying to figure out if they were jelly fish until Martin took the plunge and stuck his finger in a load of them!
We sat and read until the boat arrived, sunning ourselves and swatting the occasional sand fly which tried, and in some cases succeeded, to bite us. We had to wade in to the boat which was fine as we both still had our feet out from our quick dip. There were loads of people taking the boat back, even a kayak was tied to the back as we made our way in the beautiful afternoon sun back to our van.
Again we were pulled onto the trailer whilst we sat in the boat and were driven back to the carpark. It was now 4:30; time had flown by but we had enjoyed a wonderful day and the weather had continued to be kind to us. We drove straight to Nelson, situated about an hour away we arrived in perfect time to make tea and then walk into town to have a quick look around. I was quite disappointed with the town really: it boasts the title of the most 'liveable' town in New Zealand and the area around the cathedral was very pretty but elsewhere just seemed quite industrial and practical, it maybe these are features which make it liveable!
We called into the Vic for a drink, taking in the atmosphere and features of the old building (well old by New Zealand standards) as we sat by the fire. We walked back to the campsite, loitering briefly outside McDonald's on order to book the ferry for the following days crossing back to the north island before arrived home for an early night: all that fresh air and walking had left us feeling that nice healthy tired.

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 16:47 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 73: Tuesday 14th May 2013

16,500 foot and counting

sunny 13 °C

I woke up early today in excited trepidation. So I left Sarah sleeping and saw the sun rise with a work out. The morning was cold and the sky was grey, with a deep fog. It was 7am and in less than 2 hours we were due to be picked up for the long awaited skydive. The weather however was most disappointing... Until I noticed in the distance grey I could see a bird flying a long way off. It was grey and foggy, but the sky was clear. It was going to be a belter.

After breakfast and getting more excited by the minute, we headed to reception. Blue sky and the sun shining bright and low in the sky. Our pick up we at 9am and at 9.15am when they hadn't turned up the nice lady in reception gave them a call. A few crossed wires had meant no one had come to pick us up. After they had apologising profusely, we decided to head down there on our own steam, it was only 5minute drive away.

Having arrived, I was getting very nervous and the options of the dive were 11,000 ft, 13,000ft or16,500. Being how there wasn't much difference in price, but another 20sec free fall, and the necessity to use oxygen mask in the plane because we were so high, meant there was only one option. Sarah being scared of heights thought it would be too much for her and despite their best efforts she remained grounded. So to share the experience I went for the film and photo option, which meant I would get some photos and a DVD to share the dive with her and everyone else. This meant a personal camera man would dive with us taking lots of photos and filming.

We watched a briefing DVD and I must admit I was getting nervous now. Bravado had almost totally been ruined by a reserved sense of foreboding. That quiet nervous contemplation that precedes a storm. It was only me flying, my own personal skydive. Apparently I only paid when I arrived down safely... Which was had a minor additive effect to my nerves.

The small plane belted up and after filming my pre-dive appraisal, we jumped on board and headed up. The views were magnificent. I could see the mountains of Abel Tasman national park and as far south as the southern alps. As we climbed the Roth island came into view and an unbelievable number of top New Zealand landmarks, which I can't remember given that I was also trying to slow my breathing and relax.

We could see a dense and low fog below about 1km from the dive sight, but it covered only small amount of the views and it was the only 'cloud' in the sky. As the oxygen mask came on and I was getting clipped in, the last of my bravado was gone. As the door opened reality kicked in, it looked a long way down! I had to give myself a little man up pep talk. My stomach was tight and my breathing heavy, my senses were alive: the drum and humming of the plane engine, the sun shimmering on the horizon, the wind dancing around the cabin, the cold air tingling my face, my heart beating hard and fast and the adrenaline cursing through my body. We shimmied over to the edge and followed the camera man out (who held on the film me). We rocked back and forth and, I felt like I was on the edge of the world about to drop into the abyss. Then we dropped, and spun and there was a rush and all my fear, all my worries were blown away.

We were falling and falling fast, I yelled and hollered, whopping and totally free of fear. The views were phenomenal and the ground was miles below. We travelled at 120km per hour down, and the air created a blanket feeling over my body as I fell. The tandem mater tap my arms to signify I could uncross them and the fun really started. The cameraman swooped in from no-where and started to play, as well as admiring the views, we had a fake shoot out and blew raspberries at each other and did the wicked symbol with a closed fist, only the thumb and little finger sticking out. Actually I spent the whole dive pretty much in this position. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. After what felt like 20 seconds the shoot was pulled and all was silent and serene. I watched the camera man disappear rapidly below, he was landing before me to film my landing. We had in fact been falling for over 70 seconds and had fallen 12,500 feet in total. It was great, we chatted and admired the views, the tandem master told me it was a really long fall (apparently).

We could see the dive site below and sarah waving at me. we came in to land and I have to admit it was so smooth, a perfect landing apparently, none of it down to me I hasten to add. I felt amazing the rush, the adrenaline still bouncing around my system, my hands shaking, my breathing exasperating and myself, just thrilled to bits.

We went inside and once I had taken my kit off, we went into their tv room to watch the DVD with Sarah. It s a really cool, well put together DVD. Filming my dive and it was awesome being able to share it within Sarah who had been waiting patiently on the ground. True to form it was a lot longer than it seems, and my hands didn't move anywhere near as much as it felt like in the air. I was so glad to have filmed it. They even gave me a free T-shirt for forgetting to pick me up, which was totally awesome. As we left the fog had totally covered the air field, which would have meant we couldn't fly. I had missed it by about 10mins, so, so very lucky.

After that we drove north to the Abel Tasman park, where we can walk a track after being dropped off by water taxi. But on route I needed to stop for some caffeine and sugar. All the excitement had left me a little bit dumbfounded.

Unfortunately when we arrived we had missed the right boat, as to be picked up on time, we needed to get the 9am boat. So we booked in for the next day and then headed back to the campsite for the night. We spent the afternoon touring the town of Motueka and having a small pie for lunch. Final after drifting the afternoon, by perusing the boutique shops, picking up some lunch for tomorrow and enjoying the sunshine. We had a a cheap but recommended curry for dinner and then returned to the campsite, where we watch my skydive DVD again, and then finished the 3rd season of glee.

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 16:45 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 72: Monday 13th May 2013

West Coast Wilderness

sunny 11 °C

We got up early in the cold and headed on our way, we had a lot of miles to cover today up to Motueka and the abel tasman national park. We drove down through valleys, across rivers, snaked round and over mountains and circuited beautiful lakes. At one point in the middle of no-where we saw a cold looking traveller hitch hiking, so we decided to do our good deed for the day and pick him up. He was travelling north and so would be on our destined route for a couple of hours. He had been waiting in the bitter cold for a few hours and so we felt very good about ourselves. His name was alex and he was German, we spent the next couple of hours swapping stories about our travels and experiences.

At one point we all stopped and took a tour around pancake rocks, named because the layers of rock sediment make the rocks look like a stack of pancakes. The scenery was very coastal and as beautiful as we come to love New Zealand for. Finally after a couple of hours we dropped alex off and finished he last two hours of the journey by ourselves.

It was dark by the time we arrived at the campsite, the nice lady at teh campsite booked us in and gave us some free fejoua, a type of fruit. its green, with a semi waxy skin, about the size of a necterine. you eat it like a kiwi fruit, and it was different by actually rather nice, it tasted like a banana grape, with a slit hint of TCP (which sounds disgusting, but surprising it really was not). after sampling our fruit we had time for a quick dinner before bed. I fell asleep looking forwards to the skydive in the morning.

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 16:43 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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