A rocky ferry, Abel Tasman National Park, Quirky Hostels & Beach Vibes
I left Wellington with a hangover, yet eager to meet a whole new group of travellers. I boarded the big green Kiwi Experience bus at the early hours of 7:10AM and with 40 other backpackers headed towards the Interislander ferry. I met two German boys on the ferry who told me of their tramping adventures across New Zealand: hitchhiking and walking 3 days nonstop with nothing but a backpack to arrive at each destination. Although inspired by their stories, I was relieved to board the Kiwi Experience bus in Picton where most of the travelling is planned for you.
I immediately made a new friend: Will from England. The bus driver Cam introduced himself and gave us an entire run down of what was to come. We drove through the beautiful Malborough Sounds before arriving at Kaiteri – a beach side town at the edge of Abel Tasman. The beach was amazing and the hostel’s bar ‘The Beached Whale’ had live music – we had a good night, shared stories and got to know one another.
Abel Tasman is an absolute must do in New Zealand: a national park home to secluded beaches and walking trails. You can do anything from 3 days walking treks to a 3 hour Kayak Tour.
Day 2 we ventured to Westport – a town well known for its Surfing, Mountain Biking, Walking Trails, Horse Riding & Quad Biking. On the way we stopped by the Nelson Lakes to jump off the famous pier. Considering that we were travelling through the ‘storm’ that was predicted for New Zealand, two of the boys on our bus braved up, stripped down and jumped in!
The hostel at Westport, Bazil’s Place was amazing – chilled out vibe, hammocks, reggae music, paintings, friendly staff, free Wi-Fi and loads of activities. Cam our bus driver organised a $5 BBQ which we all pitched in for – yum! We had a few drinks, some went to the pub and others went to bed.
Day 3 we travelled along the West Coastline – beautiful black sand beaches on the edge of huge mountainous rainforest. First stop: a one hour walk along Cape Foulwind Walkway – we saw a colony of fur seals playing in the ocean! Second stop – Pancake Rocks – weirdly shaped rocks on the ocean edge that erupted with water. We continued through the breath taking scenery before arriving in Franz Josef.
For those of you who have yet to visit Franz Josef – the town sits within huge, green mountains and beside the world’s fastest moving glacier (Franz Josef). Being St Patricks Day, we are all pretty keen for a big night – stay tuned! Tomorrow? Heli Hike to the top of Franz Josef – woo!