It’s Week 6 and I’m still alive.
I visited some amazing places on the North end of the South Island with some friends.
Me and four other exchange students took a relocation rental car up to sunny Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park this past weekend. Nelson is about 5 hours North of Christchurch. According to Wikipedia, Abel Janszoon Tasman, a Dutch explorer, was the first person to discover Tasmania and New Zealand.
I drove a Toyota Camry on the opposite side of the road, on the opposite side of the car!
The most challenging part was remembering to flick the signaling lights on the right side, instead of the left. That meant that most times that I wanted to turn, I turned on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal. Otherwise, it took a bit more brain power, but it wasn’t hard or scary.
We also managed to not get our keys taken away from us – something that has blown up in the news recently. Kiwis have been taking away the keys of terrible foreign drivers because they thought they were endangering others.
Foreigners driving poorly is actually quite a problem. Tons of accidents, some fatal, happen all the time because of gringa drivers – something I was pretty conscious of while driving on the motorways.
We chose to drive along the East Coast instead of through the mountains, and we didn’t regret it. We managed to score some pretty epic weather as well.
Friday night I had dinner at East St. Vegetarian Cafe in what is like a basement to an old house. The vibe was soooo awesome and the food was diverse and creative.
We went back to the restaurant that night to watch a jazz-hip hop show, and we danced our faces off.
March 21st – The first day of Autumn on this side of the world.
We woke up, had breaky and coffee and motored out to Abel Tasman National Park.
Right off the bat, the golden sand and blue water was stunning to see. The water was actually no longer considered the Pacific Ocean, but the Tasman Sea (the body of water between Australia and New Zealand).
We rented kayaks for two hours and kayaked over to a secluded beach where we layed in the sand and swam a little. We kayaked over to Split Apple Rock, which is named so for obvious reasons.
By the time we got back, we were so drained from our time in the sun that we decided that we didn’t have the energy to tramp to another beach. We settled with driving through the curvy shaded roads to Marahau beach, where I had the best ice cream bar I’ve ever had in my life.
[Boysenberry Ice Cream with boysenberries right from Nelson, milk from NZ cows and a delicious NZ dark chocolate coating to top it off.]
On our way back to town, we saw a pekeko bird!
We had to drop off the relocation rental at the airport on our way home and were going to hitchhike or shuttle back to town.
We were told taxis are cheaper per person, so we went and looked for a lift. We found the coolest taxi driver. His name is Taupuhi and he is an Irish and Maori dude from Nelson. He had ginger dreadlocks and loved to swear and laugh. He immediately took a liking to us and wanted to come pick us up and show up around the town once he had driven a soccer team home, that was coming off a plane.
The soccer guys ended up letting us share the taxi with them. It ended up being the Nelson Men’s Soccer team coming back from their match against Christchurch, which is pretty legit.
Taupuhi showed us around to his favourite spots and restaurants for $20 total. It’s people like him that make traveling the world extra special.
He works the night shift and can get you home to anywhere you need to go. I have his cell number if anyone ever needs a lift from a solid Kiwi dude.
After that we went to bed pretty early after some good pizza. We were pooped.
We also coined the term “YONZO” and lived by it pretty well over the weekend.
YONZO = You’re Only in New Zealand Once
Bus home day, a.k.a so much sitting that you go crazy. We left Nelson at 9:30am and weren’t home until 6:30pm. It was pretty painful, but luckily we were always in good company.
On more of a personal note, I am doing well.
I seem to live for the weekends, where I get to explore more of the country. This makes the weeks slip by really quickly.
In my classes I have enjoyed my forestry course the most. That seems to be where I raise my hand the most at least. I’m actually probably pretty annoying. Good thing everyone thinks I’m American anyway 😉
April is approaching quickly, and because of ANZAC Day and Easter holidays, we get a 3 week break.
I have purchased a cheap one-way flight to Wellington and as of right now, I have absolutely no solidified plans. I don’t even know where I’m staying yet. I’m considering WWOOFing up what they call the Surfer Highway – the West Coast of the North Island. Maybe I’ll see Hobbiton? Rotorua? Raglan? The possibilities are endless but the money is not. We’ll see where God takes me!
In the meantime, my weeks are filled with classes and labs, fitness classes, hangouts, surf sessions and lots of cooking. I’ve even been able to read two books, my favourite being The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera.
It’s a beautiful fictional story about a Maori tribe and it’s relationship to the sea. It may actually be one of my favourite books ever. It’s also a movie, but as usual, they change quite a few details.
I’ll leave you with a picture of an amazing tree that’s native to NZ, the Kauri. Google it to see it’s amazing size, and how it’s been overharvested like the trees on our Canadian Coast. It’s a conifer too! Check out how it looks like deciduous. [Photos weren’t taken by me]