A three hour ferry ride and a network of sweeping mountain roads brought us to the South Island and Abel Tasman respectively. Immediately after arriving in our new land the scenery changed dramatically. Same ideas but on a bigger scale.
The Stray bus stopped at Nelson - a kind of 'funky' little town - to pick a few passengers up, one of them being Ally who we met at the Funky Green Voyager and again randomly up a mountain. He's a TV producer and worked on Blue Peter in the UK. We had a bottle of wine with him that night at our hostel and had a good chinwag.
Abel Tasman is another national park so we knew what to expect: all walks and no play. Unfortunately the weather was abysmal so there were no walks or playing, which makes Abel a bad place to be. We took a short stroll up the coastline and it was beautiful, but everything looks even better when bathed in sunshine.
We spent two nights there, most of which we were around the hostel. Steph and I had a double room with a ceiling low enough for Steph to be forced to slouch - I was near enough on all-fours. We built a level of boredom that has not been reached by either of us for nearly four months. We did what any other sane couple of twenty-somethings would do in such a state of mind-numbing limbo: a jigsaw puzzle. It was only a 700er but it did the job.
The only thing that warrants a mention during our washed out visit to Abel Tasman was a Fat Tui. Or rather two Fat Tuis. A Tui is a native NZ bird but Fat Tui is something different. It was recommended to us by our bus driver and he deserves brownie points for highlighting this gem. It's a big caravan converted into a gourmet burger joint. We had a burger with cheese, egg, mustard, beetroot, couscous, bacon, aioli, pineapple, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, ketchup and onion (this list is in no way exhaustive). It was roughly the size of my head. Maybe bigger. I have never even considered cutlery for a burger before but this thing almost called for a carving knife.
Our next destination was a place called Barrytown, which is precisely in the middle of nowhere. Stray insist that passengers stay here for the South Island's 'cultural' stop. You would probably find more culture in can of condensed milk than you would where we stayed. It was a pub with a few dorms/garden sheds outside. The unique selling point was that we had the opportunity to have '''fun''' (in this case three inverted commas signify blatant lies). We were given a box of fancy-dress clothes that stank of wet badgers and looked like they may have been taken from corpses at the morgue. We were told to choose a theme but going by what we had to work with there could only have been two possibilities: skanks or tramps. Neither of which were very appealing so most of us gave that aspect of the night a miss. A few people made valiant attempts at having '''fun''' with the costumes but it didn't really catch on. I like dressing up like an idiot as much as the next man, but this was far too contrived (also they didn't have any stilettos in size 13). We spent the evening with two girls and a guy from our dorm, and had a few social drinks in the bar. That was actually quite fun (with zero inverted commas).
A fairly dull few days in comparison to the rest of our trip so far, made all the more frustrating by the fact that we have about two weeks left in NZ. Bring on some action!