the more time I spend here, the better it gets
It's true. Everything about New Zealand just gets better and better. I have just spent an amazing couple of days in Abel Tasman National Park, doing one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done - the Abel Tasman Coastal Track. It helped that the sun was shining the entire time, accentuating the golden sands of the utterly empty golden beaches and the amazing green of the calm calm waters. The track was almost deserted, and it was just me, meandering along a fairly easy track that hugged the coast, dropping down into amazing coves and estuaries (these weren't quite as much fun since they involved getting wet, wet feet), then rising up again to the cliffs to give a perfect bird's eye view of the coastline. It was a truly inspiring walk, and easy enough to take 2hours off in the middle to laze on a beach, contemplating how wonderful life was and to do some reading. How perfect. I then arrived at the spartan but comfortable DOC hut to bunk down for the night with other trekkers. I was quite surprised by how long people were taking to do the hike, but then again, my pack was pretty light, so I guess I could go faster. Although some may not believe it, I really can travel light when I absolutely have to. Anyways, no electricity meant an early night (the beach was beautiful in the dark, but I always prefer starlight to moonlight - the only disappointment of the trip. And if that's the only disappointment, well then things are good!), and my trusty blue kazoo kept me cosy all night. Ironically enough, waking up the next morning proved to be my biggest lie-in in a long time, since I didn't haul my ass out of my sleeping bag until 8.30am. Well, my kayaking team weren't picking me up until 9.30, and with no towel, I wasn't exactly in a position to linger in the shower. The kayaking team, Kaiteriteri Kayaks, were fantastic. My guide was an enthusiastic and exuberant guy called Tassie, and there were another 7 of us kayaking. We ended up covering about 18km, which I thought was pretty impressive. The coastline was completely beautiful, calm in the coves, and blustery out at sea. It was actually the closest I have ever come to capsizing a sea-kayak, with the waves being about 3ft. Still, a ton of fun, particularly if you timed the paddling right to catch the wave. We were well-fed and happy little paddlers as we covered the coast, checking out tiny private beaches and Split Apple Rock, all whilst telling (making up) Maori legends about the naming of all the beaches. A really fun day, which was suitably exhausting.
I got the bus and ferry up to Wellington today, and it is just a wonderful city. Of course, I think that any city which has a street of bohemian cafes playing cool music and serving fair trade coffee is awesome, but this one also has great shops and apparently an amazing museum - Te Papa, which I am checking out tomorrow. Unfortunately, because of weather restraints, I am burning up to Taupo tomorrow afternoon to try and do the Tongariro crossing on Tuesday, when there is a weather window. Otherwise, it simply wouldn't be happening, but that's a good thing - the faster I get north, the more likely I am to be able to see the far north, which I am really trying to do, if I have enough time. Ah, time, such a pressing restraint with only 10 more days in New Zealand. I already have a list as long as my arm of all the things I want to do when I come back.