Monday, January 18, 2010

To Nelson and back again....

Alright guys...I'm back! It's been almost a month since my last post but I have a good excuse & now lots of pictures to show you! I've been doing some traveling in both the North and South Islands...over New Years & my birthday I spent about 5 days with a few friends in a region of the North Island called Hawkes Bay. Then this past weekend I went down South and spent 4 days in the Northwestern city of Nelson. I'll break this up into two posts and will start with my most recent trip to the South Island.

When I first moved to New Zealand I spend almost 2 weeks down in the South Island. The first night I had dinner with some new found friends who I met through one of my random connections back home, and was told Nelson was a 'definite' place to visit during the summer. So, one day I came across some very cheap flights and booked a weekend trip. Best decision. I had a really great time and would love to make it back there again before I leave. The first day I arrived in the afternoon so before dinner I hiked up a fairly short trail to a lookout that claims to be the very center of New Zealand. Once at the top I met a fellow American, also traveling solo, so we went on and did a bit more hiking and then he and I grabbed dinner. This is one thing I love about traveling alone, it's really easy to meet new people and just simply enjoy a meal or a drink & conversation. The next day would end up being my favorite of the trip and one of the best I've had traveling in NZ. I booked a day trip to the Abel Tasman National Park, spending half the day kayaking and the other half hiking. The Abel Tasman is NZ's smallest National Park, but is a really good mix of bush walking and beaches. I was in charge of steering the kayak I was in and have to give big props to the poor guy paired up with me. I mean, I did was actually quite comical & in the end we made it back safely and managed to stay pretty dry! It's beautiful as you'll see...

Later that night I met up with a friend from Wellington who was in Nelson for the weekend as well. His parents actually let me stay with them for the rest of my time there which was great! We went out to Lake Rotoiti, I hiked around it during the first trip, but this time is was late at night & pitch black. I was blown away by the stars. I have never seen a more beautiful night sky in my life...there were so many more stars than I ever remember seeing back home. One of the highlights of the trip for sure. The next day my friend, Tim, and I drove over the hill to Golden Bay. I thought it would be long beaches, which apparently there are if you drive a few hours. But we mostly saw NZ farmland and did a couple of bush walks. My favorite walk was called Harwood Hole, it was about a 30 minute walk through tall trees and over boulders to an overlook of a deep cave. It was cool because the forest was really quiet and it felt like we were in a completely different place. We also went to Te Waikoropupu Springs to see the "Cleanest water in the world". I would love to head back to Golden Bay at some point and make it to the beaches.

The rest of my time was spent in Nelson City checking out the shops, cafes, museum, gardens, oh and I went to a coffee shop that had a pond with tame eels (???) I definitely touched one and have a picture to prove it. My Sunday night flight was cancelled due to poor weather in Wellington. Let me tell you, the weather here is can literally be in one part of the country soaking up the sun while just a few hundred kilometers away there's rain & fog. Coastal living? Overall it was a brilliant weekend... :)