The ferry across to Picton was uneventful. Not an unpleasent experience, but not one I would rush to do again. Fortunately, unlike my previous boat experience going towards the reef, I was not sea sick and fell asleep for the most part. I know how to have fun.
I arrived in Picton and most people don't stay here, but I decided to and I am so glad about that decision. What a lovely little town. And my hostel was fantastic. Cheap, free breakfast, open fire and to cap it off free chocolate pudding at night WITH ice cream. That may not sound that fab to you, but apart from the cake extravaganza in Wellington, I've not had many desserts recently.
Now Saturday was something called ANZAC day which essentially was the Kiwi and Australian rememberence day for the great wars and everyone gets a day of work. Or so I thought. After the complete shutting down of Auckland on Easter Friday, I assumed that a Saturday holiday in a small town would deem everything closed. As such I hadn't planned to do anything that day. However, to my surprise everything was open. This did not change my plans, I had decided to do a self-guided walk and I was going to do it (plus, hello, free!). However, I got the times slightly wrong and ended up walking for near 5 hours. Well, at least it was a nice sunny day and I'd packed a lunch.
On my return to the lovely hostel I felt very fit and could practically feel my stomach and thighs becoming toned and muscular. As such I felt I deserved 2 servings of chocolate pudding that night. The next morning I caught the bus to Nelson, the 'big smoke' around these parts aka it has more than one supermarket and met a tall chap who not only was going to Nelson, but was staying in the same hostel and doing the same Abel Tasman day walk as I was. After the relative solitude of Wellington and the polite chat of Picton, I couldn't seemed to stop talking to this poor fellow. Verbal diarrhoea flowed from me and I was unable to control or stop it. This continued the entire bus journey, supermarket visit and sausage cooking (yum) that we did together. Fortunately for him (and me, it is very tiring to talk non-stop) by the beginning of the walk the next day, I had finally calmed down some what.
Abel Tasman, for those of you who care, is the smallest national park in New Zealand and is a very popular hiking and camping destination. But as all of you know, I do not camp. So a day walk was in order. My new best friend, Tall boy, and I caught the bus very early to be taken to the ferry site and were surprised by a constant narration by the bus driver. What was surprising about it was that not only did he not stop AT ALL, also he kept making very politcial statements about the loss of green space and telling us all his wife's bad habits. I'm sure she was delighted. After 2 hours of that, escape into the wild unknown was most appreciated.
On the ferry, we met Jail boy, a young English chap who whilst in Thailand had his camera stolen, reported it to the police and then was arrested himself for 'insulting the king'. He languished in jail for 5 days until rescued by the British Embassy and sent home. I'm amazed he ever travelled again! The day was glorious. The sun beat down on us, we sweated like horses and were impressed by views and shared such stories (though non beat his jail time tale).
That evening I was exhausted after the long walk and the return bus journey in which we had the same narrating driver and had planned to go to bed. However, the best laid plans of mice and men and all that and I ended up at the pub. I was very retrained and only had 3 pints, but the people I had come with (all "Magic Bus' tour group) were all drinking like sailors despite their 7am bus trip and when I left at midnight they were still going strong. I would not like to have been their driver the next day. I'm getting very old in my old age and the I wouldn't even contemplate drinking heavily before a journey espcially not an early one. To be honest drinking heavily itself has lost much of its appeal too. I must be growing up.
The next day, the weather turned. It rained, then it rained then it poured and then it rained some more. So I read a book and organised my life (a bit, well I booked a hotel for Vegas). Fortunately I met a nice software analyst and we went out for tea then went to see a film I'm to embarrassed to admit to seeing. However, it was the first time in months I'd gone to the cinema wth anyone so it was a nice change.
Because of the rain, my plans have had to change. They have had 40 days rain in one night (or some such silly statistic) and its still raining so cave water rafting is off (it would be underwater rafting now, not so much fun). As such I have decided to splash out and do a helicopter then hike over a glacier. When it rains, spend. So keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow morning for me as I need a bit of luck to ensure the trip actually goes ahead and a bit of luck if it does as I'll be in a freakin' helicopter!