Picton, Wellington, Abel Tasman, Hokitika, and Westport

Suzanne, Blair and I took the ferry from Wellington to Picton on Tuesday. Last time I saw Nola she told me Stray takes the Bluebridge ferry since it’s the cheapest, so I relayed the info and we took the same. There’s a reason it’s the cheapest: it’s a cargo ship that allows passengers; there were cars, a motorcycle, semi trucks, shipping containers and about 30 of us “walk-on passengers”. They had a nice little cafe, a bar, and some decks for sitting, but
that was it.

Jacob arrived by train to Picton and we picked him up in our shiny rental car (a Nissan Bluebird). We got a not-entirely-crappy lunch and headed out to Motueka (just south of Abel Tasman). Our hostel there was called the Laughing Kiwi (maybe related to the Cackling Kea?) a super sweet little place right on the edge of town. We spent several hours on Wednesday kayaking from Kaiteriteri to Split Apple Rock where we swam up to the rock, climbed up on it, and took goofy photos (with Jacob’s waterproof camera). That night we cooked a big dinner and crashed out hard from all the exercise.

Thursday we went back to Abel Tasman, but this time took a water taxi to a nice 2.5 hour hike from Bark’s Bay to Torrent Bay. Just a note: Aqua Taxi is not as good as Maxi Taxi.

On the way back to the car, we found a “Flying Fox”, aka zip line! We rode on it in every possible configuration (jacob did upside-down!) for about an hour. WEEEEEE!

Friday we started the drive to Westport, stopping regularly for cool side-trips.

One was the Playhouse, even though it was closed we nosed around their grounds. It’s a cafe with a theater where they do performances of small shows and also have costume parties! Their grounds were gorgeous with sculptures, hand-made ovens and lamps, and wooden tables with shells in them.

Another side trip was to The World of Wearable Art: a smallish gallery of creative fashion – AND antique cars. I spent about 15 mins in the fashion part and nearly an hour with the cars, they had some really interesting ones, my favorites were: a Pink ’59 Cadillac Coupe de Ville with HUGE fins, a 1930 Model A, and a 1908 Renault AX with lamps for headlights.

When we got to Westport, our hostel, Beaconstone, was on the outskirts of town. It was an eco-lodge reminiscent of Little Earth where we stayed in the North Island. The owners are a Kiwi and a Californian and the place was incredibly homey and quiet. We slept through an
all-night rainstorm and woke to the sounds of the crashing ocean and tweeting birds.

Tearing Blair from Beaconstone, we started heading South to Hokitika. Since I was driving, we stopped at a bunch of random sights like: a hole in rock on the side of the road (nothing on the other side), a wind-swept beach with lots of pebbles on it (surprisingly warm for a rainy, grey day), and a flower-decorated pedestrian bridge ending at an old car/RR/pedestrian (?) tunnel.

We also stopped at the pancake rocks (which I had seen just a month ago, so I stayed in the warm cafe while they all got soaked in the rain!).

Getting to Hokitika, it was smaller than I remembered from Stray. 3 main streets crossed by 8 smaller streets. A line of jade shops (their speciality), 2 bars, and about 5 restaurants of varying quality. We ate at a place Kerry recommended for fish & chips. Since none of us had tried whitebait, we decided to try a whitebait patty…conversation between Blair and
the woman at the counter:
Blair: what about the whitebait patty and the whitebait sandwich?
Lady: well, the whitebait patty is a patty and the whitebait sandwich is a whitebait patty between 2 pieces of bread.

Conversation between Jacob and the counter lady:
Jacob: What’s in the veggie roll?
Lady: vegetables

So we got the whitebait patty…turns out a whitebait patty is (wait for it): white, bait fish in a patty. They take a bunch of complete little (3 inches long, 1/4 inch wide) fish, put them inside a patty and fry it. The first bike you take shows fish heads sticking out of the patty. Needless to say, I’ve had the song “Fish Heads” stuck in my head since then.

Our hostel in Hokitika was about as obvious as the food. It was a place to stay with beds, a bathroom, and a kitchen – no frills. However, it is so small that we’ve gotten to know the other 2 people staying in it…2 of a set of triplets from Holland (their 3rd doesn’t like to travel). They’re probably in their 70s and always have a cute smile and confused look for everyone (they don’t speak English very well). They hike a lot so they’re in great shape and travel a lot, coming to NZ every few years.

The best part of Hokitika by FAR though is the Glow Worm Dell (don’t ask me what it is, it’s as obvious as everything in Hokitika: a dell with glow worms). First, it’s free, second, there were TONS of glow worms, and third, it’s easy to get to.

In the morning, I finally went for a run! I spent so much time trying to find running gear that finally going feels like a real accomplishment. I probably only went about 1.5 miles, but I felt strong and didn’t walk at all! Yay!

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