So we left off at me heading to Greymouth. Ah yes…now I remember.
So I woke up early (too early), dragged my stuff out of my 35-bed dorm room and packed up. It was still dark, so it proved challenging, but I succeeded nonetheless. Then I waited for the bus. A couple was speaking Spanish (from Peru I think) at the bus stop, but I didn’t say anything. The bus came, took me to the train station, then I hopped on the train. Perfect weather. I found my seat (four to a table, two on each side) and we were off. I spend the time admiring the scenery, talking to an English woman next to me and before I knew it, I was in Greymouth. And it was raining. No worries, put my rain cover over my backpack and looked for the hostel. After some searching, I finally found it and checked in. The 10 bed dorm was the cheapest option (she tried to sneakily put me in the 8 bed dorm which cost more) and I turned out to be the only one so far. So I decided to take a tour of the local brewery.
Very interesting. The lady here knew a lot more than the lady at the other brewery, but the weird thing was that they did open fermentation on ALL their beers! And they gave tours of the brewery room and everyone walked by and stood over the open vats of fermenting beer as the tour guide talked. CRAZY! The beer didn’t have any hint of infection though which was pretty crazy. I couldn’t believe it. So of course, we had the obligatory “tasting session” after which meant for about 20 minutes we could go, at will, to the faucets and pour ourselves beer. COOL.
So then I headed back to the hostel (a little tipsy) and met this Dutch girl with whom I went to dinner with (3 dollar all you can eat barbeque) and got to listen to another lecture about American politics by someone who knows absolutely nothing about it – but really want you to think they do.
“Yeah, I really don’t like Bush. But I don’t think the opposition is any better, you know?”, she proclaimed.
“Yeah? How so?”, I asked.
“Uhhhhhhhhhh, you know”. I guess that was where I was supposed to be like, “Yeah, I concur. Because of this and this and this”, which I could have, I just wanted her to fry in her own juices for a few seconds. Sometimes seemingly modestly interjecting a few moments of awkwardness with people like that is kind of fun. I get this a lot with people, so I have to make it interesting for me. Do you blame me?
So anyways, went back to the hostel, full as a tick (after sucking someone’s blood, like ticks do, otherwise I wouldn’t be full), and talked with this Australian guy for a while before reading my book and going to bed.
Next day, I was up early and out on the highway hitch hiking North. It was fun. You stand there and look at all the people’s expressions. You get the people that ignore you, the people that look at you strangely, the people that wave, the people that nod their heads, the people that throw their hands up in the air like there is nothing they can do (I still don’t know what that means. I see that empty seat right next to you!) and everything in between. Finally, a guy pulled up on his way to work (Strange. Only the locals seem to pick you up). We chatted about my plans to do Heaphyaphy Track and he told me how he and his wife did it with their two year old kid in one of those outdoor baby stroller things and we chatted about my trip and stuff. He showed me this hotel he built and stuff then dropped me off in a town about halfway to where I wanted to go. I ended up leaving my bag at the information center and seeing these crazy rock formations at the beach and the blow holes where ocean water flies up into the air.
Then it was back to looking for a new ride. Still quite a few kilometers to go. I stood on the corner with no luck. Then I walked a little bit further up the road and stood some more. No luck. Then finally this guy picked me up and said he could take me a little bit up the road where I might have more luck. I went there and still didn’t have any luck. It’s hard on the West Coast because there aren’t many locals going on it. Just tourists. And they suck.
I knew that this bus was gonna leave in a half hour so I started walking back toward the town to maybe catch it, but held my thumb out for every passing car. Finally, some guys stopped. Pit Bulls in the back, tools all over the place, and my pack flopped on its side and I was on my way to Westport! We chatted about New Zealand, I took in the stunning coastal scenery and before I knew it, I was there. They took me to the information center and after thanking them, I found out that my bus to Karamea was leaving in 3 minutes. I ran to the bus station and made it in time, and before I knew it, I was off. I couldn’t hitch hike because there wasn’t going to be much traffic and it was late. And the bus ended up being the mail truck. It took three hours to go about 40 kilometers because I had to stop at every mailbox on the way. I was in charge of handing the newspapers forward and entertaining the little girls that the mail guy was giving a ride home to (it’s a small town).
But I eventually made it and checked into my hostel. I cooked dinner, checked my email (free internet) and watched some TV before bed. In the morning, I bought my passes for the hike I was gonna do, bought my food for the trek and got a ride to the beginning of the hike. It was gonna be four days long and my pack was heavy. I set off. The proceeding four days were filled with stunning coastal scenery, incredibly dense forest/jungle, open savannah grasslands, beautiful waterfalls, little streams (from which you could fill up your water bottle and drink), caves, mountains, brilliant star filled nights (with the Milky Way splashed across the sky) and really cool swing bridges. Each night I camped out in my tent at the designated huts (little cabins with gas stoves and fireplaces, for those who pay more to sleep inside) and chatted with everyone. I was going the opposite way as everyone else so I got to walk in relative silence each day as I only saw people in passing. It was awesome. Like meditation. Walking in nature with nothing but birds chirping, streams bubbling, and my thoughts. I love it. The final night I ended up sneaking into a hut instead of camping because there was no ranger and it was cold and there were only three other people.
So I ended up getting a ride at the end of the track with this guy who was giving this German girl I met on the trek a ride. I had to ride in the back of the farm truck since there were only two seats and I eventually arrived at the hostel where the German girl was working. It was full but I was able to get a tent site for 10 bucks (which is a good deal) and after dinner, free mussels and clams that they had picked up at the beach, and checking my email, I went to play ping pong with the locals in the next town over. The owner of the hostel took me and some others there and we had a blast. When I got back, I met Hector, a kid from Spain and we talked for a while (in Spanish of course) before I headed out to my tent. In the rain.
Chris, the owner of the hostel, promised to give me a ride to Takaka (where I was to start the 3-day Abel Tasman trek) at 8:00AM, so I got up early and had breakfast, said goodbye to Martina (the German girl) and was off. It beat hitch hiking, as it was still raining. I made it to town and bought my camping pass, bought my food (I was smarter this time and bought less and lighter food), and started walking in the direction of the trek (30 k’s away). I had missed the bus so I had no other option. With the help of my thumb, I ended up getting a ride halfway there from this lady who was really happy to help me (we had to move all her baby stuff aside to fit my bag in) and then got a ride the other half of the way there by this guy in this crazy tiny, old, and beat up car where I had to have my huge pack in my lap and lift it up so he could shift gears. He had to shut my door for me since you had to push it down in this special way to get it to shut. The seat was wet and crusty and it stank. But it was a free ride and he was an interesting guy. He said some kids borrowed his car in the night. He came out in the morning, there was half a tank less of gas in it, the gear shift knob had been chewed up by a dog and the door wouldn’t shut. Funny stuff.
So I made it to the trail. Almost. I took a shortcut along the beach which was at medium low tide. I had to take my shoes off and walk through some streams of retreating ocean water in the muddy sand and dodge clam shells, then ended up walking through all this cow shit since it was right next to this cow field and got it all splashed up on my shorts (although it somehow miraculously wiped off my nylon shorts with a little water) and was on the road. I walked toward the trail. I was still sore from the Heaphy trek. But I had no choice but to continue on.
I’m glad I did, but wasn’t as impressed with the Abel Tasman as Heaphy. For one, there were a ton more people. It’s a beautiful walk up and over hills along the beach and is a nice mixture of beach walks (at one point, you have to wait for low tide and wade through the waist deep water) and forest, but there were these water taxis that would take people to parts of the track so they could walk it without a backpack so you would get tons of old people walking in huge groups laughing and talking and socializing and couldn’t really escape them. The final day I walked really fast and passed a lot of them, and even ran a portion of it, only to find each time I passed someone, a new group of loud people waited beyond. I like to walk in silence. But the weather was nice, I couldn’t complain. It did rain one night and I had to cook dinner in the little rain cover overhang of my tent, but that was it. I also got bit by about a thousand sand flies and at this very moment I am scratching them like crazy. They really itch.
I also ended up running into Tom, the dutch guy I traveled the North Island with, but he was going the other way, so we chatted a little bit and said goodbye again. Strange coincidence. So I finished the three day trek and waited around two hours for the bus to take me to Nelson as I spoke with some cool American chicks I met waiting too. I finally made it to Nelson and checked into a cheap backpacker hostel and cooked dinner. That night, I chatted with some people and ended up meeting these cool (and absolutely stunning) Swedish girls, which it seems to me that New Zealand is filled with, and we ended up chatting throughout the night and watching a few movies. We are supposed to hang out tonight too.
And today, I got up, bought some stuff like an LED headlamp for reading (batteries last a lot longer – my current flashlight is going through double A’s like nothing and I can’t afford them with the prices of batteries here) and some lightweight quick drying pants for hiking. I wont be taking jeans with me on hikes anymore. Way too heavy. Gotta travel light when you have a pack on your back for four days at a time. Then I was back in my hostel and Tom randomly walked by. He had finished the trek and them come to the exact same hostel was me. He actually was in the same room as me too. Crazy coincidences. So we hung out and then I went to he the botanical gardens here in Nelson and read for a little bit.
So here I am. Tomorrow I am going to hitch hike down South. I gotta go back to Greymouth since I left my Discman there (I had to call a few hostels to see where I had left it). Must have left it on a table in my room. But it’s on the way, so no worries. Then I’ll head over to the glaciers and maybe meet up with Mia and Hannah (the girls with whom I traveled the North Island). No definite plans yet. I was supposed to do this today, but I was really sore from seven days straight of hiking and camping and needed a rest (don’t wanna get burned out and have to stay somewhere and recover for a week an a half like I did in Bariloche).
That’s the plan. Not much more beyond tomorrow though. Gonna do some more treks. That’s all I’m sure about. And maybe marry one of the Swedish chicks I met last night. That would be cool 😉