Jan 072011

Hi All, and a belated Happy New Year to everyone. Although it may sound like we’ve been living ‘off grid’ with no updates, we haven’t been, it’s just that time on the road flies, and days are busy, and laptops aren’t picked up.  Photos for this post will come later!

We took in Christmas in Collingwood then headed towards Takaka just down the road in Golden Bay.  It was time to try and climb, and experience at least one night out in the laid back (hippy!) town on Takaka.  It’s a great vibe around here but you can tell there are quite a few who have moved for the vibe of the place.  There’s loads of outlets for local artists and clothesmakers, organic cafes and outlets and all the normal stuff associated with a small town.  We had a nice evening in one of the bars speaking to the owner about the place.

From spending a night in the town, there was more rain predicted so we headed to a full blown campsite on the coast to sit back and read our books.  Luckily it only lasted a few days, so we managed to get a couple of morning’s climbing in, another short attempt at fishing with no joy (but another tangled line!), and a couple of nights free camping in the harbour carpark!   We managed to climb over a ridge on the coast over a pretty awesome gravel road to one of the beaches in the Abel Tasman National Park.

The climbing we did was in a great setting right behind the road (short walk!) and right on the coast (great views).  One day was almost perfect – a good couple of hours climbing one easyish routes, some decent people to chat to next to us, a kite flying session on the beach, and a short swim in the sea – what a great way to spend the last day of the year.

Our New Year was spent in a local inn just outside of Takaka  – we left it too late to get into the campsite, and didn’t want to just park up on the road randomly.  It was full of locals, bar the odd unexpecting tourist.  I say locals – I should say local ‘characters’ – quite a bizarre but interesting night.  We were pretty much parked in a field next to the Inn, had to go to the toilets inside, and the biggest nightmare of the night was that this was our second New Year’s night with no countdown….nope, no-one said “10, 9, 8…..” – we were gutted.  THey just went straight into a crap rendition of Auld Lang Syne (they were a pretty naff band – a Swedish tourist managed to get on stage to play and stayed on for 20 minutes getting more praise than the band!).

Reluctantly we decided we should leave Golden Bay and head towards Nelson Lakes and the West Coast.  We had so many things we still wanted to do in and around Golden Bay from biking to climbing and walking, and the weather had held us up a bit (our excuse anyway!).  We decided that we could still be there in a few weeks and still think the same, so we left as it is one of the closest areas to Wellington (albeit across the sea) where we think we’ll end up heading back to.

We headed down to Nelson Lakes and managed a day of walking and another with some biking.  We also managed to cross paths with our previous ‘flattie’ (housemate) and friend from Wellington on her return from New Years holidays so managed to get some post, grab a coffee and have a natter.  Our friend had just been in a place called Karamea on the West Coast so we decided to head up there as it’s a bit off the beaten track, and there’s a high chance we wouldn’t be there again unless we did the Heaphy Walk.  It wasn’t on our plans, but that’s the joy of being on the road!

One the way over we stopped off in a cheap DOC camp site and squeezed in our first activity of doing a tandem zip line swing across the river.  It looked like good fun, but it ended up confirming our fears of spending money on the big activities.  It was lame, and we felt cheated of our $60.

Karamea was lovely and we managed to hit it up pretty well in two days – we walked through caves, limestone karsts, had some great views and beach walks, and camped at the end of a road for a night, and really experienced the wild, rugged, west coast.

We were lucky in Karamea as the weather held out, so we decided to head down the West Coast just as it turned.  Unfortunately that stopped us doing some cycling in one area, and climbing in another but hey ho.

There’s less than a two week until my mum comes down the road.  The road trip’s great but despite having all the time in the world (relatively), we could have three, four, five times as long and we’d still struggle to do everything we wanted.  Sometimes we’re struggle as we want to do so much we end up doing only small bits of each of them, but who’s complaining!

Between now and the 19th when my mum arrives, we’re going to head a bit further down the west coast, over Arthur’s Pass to hopefully stop for several days for biking, walking and climbing, then over to Christchurch for some shake, rattle and roll (although I joke, the poor buggers are still suffering from many aftershocks from the big quake so we may not spent so long there). We’re currenty in and around Hokitika, and heading to Arthur’s Pass today  or tomorrow, so we’ may well be out of reception a wee bit for a few days – not sure.

The van is doing well, it doesn’t seem to be so leaky of late but the roof, and insect mesh on the side windows are starting to resemble a cemetary of sandflies…..they’re like mosquitos and are a bit of a pain, but we’ve got off relatively lightly so far, despite all our bites!

I’ll try to get some photos up when next online…..

 Posted by at 8:53 pm

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