23.10.11 - 25.10.11 - Getting on the KIWI Experience bus - Kaikora & Kaitiritiri (Abel Tasman National Park)
This morning when I woke up, I felt both apprehensive and excited about getting on the bus. As I approached the bus station where the bus was parked up I actually expected there to be loads of people on board, except there was just one guy on board and the driver was no where to be seen. Chris was from Denmark who told me that Flea, the driver had popped to get something for her lunch quickly. Flea returned and was really welcoming. With her she had her sisters step son, Logan who she was looking after for the past 2 weeks whilst he was on school holidays. Peter, another young lad arrived and as the three of us were the only three to be joining the bus at Christchurch, we immediately headed to a diffeerent bus stop. Flea informed us that the people joining our bus here were heading North on the bus from Queenstown and so we'd spend our first night with these people in Kaikora, famous for swimming with wild dolphins, whale watching and many other water based activities.
At the stop where the five of us waited for the others coming up from Queenstown to join us, we sat around getting to one a bit about each other. When the other bus arrived, I reckon we were a full bus altogether, they just kept on coming. It was cool to have so many people on board the bus and whilst they all loaded there belongings onto the bus, we set off for Kaikora. I got talking with quite a few people sat around the seat I was in on the bus. Two girls who'd just that morning done a skydive in Queenstown so were flying still. As they were near to the end of their trip i was asking them their thoughts on the best activities to do and what they could recommend. Naturally they were banging on about the skydive and although their photos were great there was no way you'd catch me jumping out of a plane. The thought just doesn't even pass through my head. These two girls worked for Ernst and Young in the city and were really good to talk too, telling me all the best places on the bus route and of course telling me advice on other things I should do whilst here.
Kaikora is described as a sleepy town, whose population I can't quite remember now, but seriously it was stunning. The back drop of snow capped mountains, the sea lapping up against the rocky shoreline and a little village/town passing through such beauty was gorgeous. My first impressions were great. The hostel we stayed at was lovely too, the views from the dorm room looked out onto the white mountains. It was gorgeous. In my room I met a crazy 20 year old called Peggy who'd spent 8 months working in Queenstown in one of the bars there. She was a good crack and made me laugh loads with all of her stories.
Tonight was the Rugby Worldcup Final. New Zealand verses France. As I've mentioned before in this blog i've never taken any notice of Rubgy in my life. Since i've been away however, and naturally with NZ being in the final I've really REALLY enjoyed keeping up with it.
As we arrived into Kaikora town, Flea pointed out the three best bars to go to, to watch the game. The best of which from the outside looked like the place called The Whaler, so the two ladies who worked for E&Y, Steph and Katherine, Peggy and I arranged to head there tonight for dinner and to watch the game. Others from the bus went there too but actually it was nice just us, including Flea and Logan too (until halftime when he had to leave) drinking wine, eating pub grub and taking in the game. I'm SOOOO pleased NZ won... can you imagine if they hadn't?! Christ..... i think the country would have been in mourning. It was such a great night, with loads of atmosphere and of course when they won, the place erupted. It was awesome! We stayed for a couple more drinks before heading back to the hostel as I had to be up early the next morning to head north of the south island, for we were headed to Kaitiritiri, part of the Abel Tasmin National Park.
The bus was leaving early this morning anyway, but because I decided not to do any of the activities here since Scott and I swam with Dolphins in Cuba in June and i've seen wild whales before, I decided to at least get to see something Kaikora had to offer before leaving, and that was the Seal Colony. I had to get up at 6am to make the 4km walk to where the Seal Colony was situated from the hostel but for the reward at the end of it, I didn't care what the time was. It took about an hour and 15 mins to get there, at first I wondered whether I was walking in the right direction, but this was definately the way in which Flea directed me so I carried on. It was funny actually because as i was effectively still waking up on my route to where they were located, I actually smelt them before I saw them. The first one I spotted was no word of a lie, just about 10 metres away from me, just lying there as I walked along this boardwalk area. As soon as I spotted the first, well then i kept on spotting them. Some were basking on the rocks, some were swimming, and others were actually sat on the boardwalk in which I was walking. My god. This one in particular which I came across was a beast. And was literately in my way. i had to walk around him to continue in the right direction. The closer i got, the more agitated he got. naturally I didn't want to disturb him so I got as close I felt sufficient to get a good close up picture, then let him be. this mornings experience was yet again on this trip like nothing i've ever experienced before. Who goes on a walk at 6am, and meets up with cyrill the seal?!?! It was so surreal. The Pictures i managed to get are amazing and i cannot wait to upload them for you all to see. It's at times like this when I wish I had a much better camera. But honestly the pictures I did get.... they rock!!!
Walking back from this amazing mornings walk today, I was on cloud nine. So chuffed that i'd made the most of the little time i had in Kaikora, and actually it didn't cost me a dime. mother nature at its best except actually this time around i'm talking about animals rather than landscapes.
I timed it just right because as i arrived back at the hostel the bus was there and Flea with a bus load of people were waiting for me. She couldn't actually believe that i'd made the walk in the first place and was eager to see the pictures i'd taken and hear about how many cyrill's I'd seen on my adventure, so naturally this got me syked even mor,e happy telling everyone about it whilst on route to the ferry terminal.
The majority of the passengers on board this bus were headed back up north as i'd explained earlier, except Chris and I. Flea would be going on the ferry too and Chris and i would stay on the bus where we'd be getting a bus load of new people, who started their trip in the north island and were now headed South with us. We also got a new driver, this was where I met Matty for the first time.
As yet another new bus load of passengers climbed on board, a young blone girl came and sat next to me at the front. She introduced herself as Karen and followed it up with, i'm the sick one on the bus as i've already been nicknamed the vomit girl. My exact words to her back were... ''oh no you're joking aren't you''. It actually turns out that Karen wasn't sick on the bus once, she just gets really bad travel sickness and prefers to sit at the front. I realised quickly that actually she had a huge amount of banter going on with Matty the driver and as we headed to Kaitiritiri we had a good giggle. Karen is the same age as me and was travelling with her sister Claire, 24. They were Scottish, from Edinburgh. Karen was really talkative and we seemed to get on really well from the start. On the supermarket stop before we arrived at the Abel Tasmin National Park I was wondering the aisles working out what i wanted to buy for tonight's dinner when Karen and Claire, along with two other girls were standing in the alcohol aisle. Karen shouted at me ''come on Rachel, get involved''. Funny really because when i look back now this is how my relationship started with the girls. Sick and Booze!!! What a lovely combo!!! LOL
The other two girls with them introduced themselves as Leanne and Neimph, who are Irish. Both set of the girls were travelling in pairs and got to know each other in the north island. We all bought our dinner for that night, and of course we each bought a bottle of wine each too. As we arrived in Kaitiritiri where we were spending the night in the national park, we got off the bus and the girls invited me to room with them which I was thought was lovely. That my friends is how i met the girls i spent two weeks with in the South Island of New Zealand. It actually turned out that this particular night we were in a dorm of 8. So with me and the four girls there were of course three spaces left. This was how I met Sam and Izzy, both from London who again were lovely..... then last but not least was Joey from Chicago. bless him, you'd think that actually a guy would be thrilled to be sharing a dorm with 7 lovely ladies but he certainly wasn't happy about it at first. I found it highly hilarious. He manned up in the end and got on with it. It took a while to get to talking with Joey on the trip as he most definately was a 'character' lets say.... but actually once you cracked his male shovenistic, I'm better than everyone American attitude i found him to be a really nice guy.
Shortly after we'd all checked in and shot gunned our beds, the 6 girls and I headed out to the beach. This is a new hostel on Kiwi Experiences patch which they've only been coming to since 1st October. It is right on the beach too, so even better. Trouble is the weather isn't too warm yet, here in NZ so rather than bother around and get my bikini on, I just headed on over as I was, since I knew theres no way I was going to get in the cold water. We all took a short walk after following the trail that Matty had sent us in the direction for to seek out the millionaire homes. He sure wasn't wrong. All of them were mind blowing. All glass fronted and pure luxury. Oh how the other half live. After taking in the sights and taking some lovely photos of the headlands from the top of the cliff we climbed we headed down to the white sandy beach area. As we arrived another group from the bus were there, Joey and the boys. I hadn't up until this point met many others since it'd only been a few hours since they'd all got on the bus so this was the perfect opportunity. I pretty much introduced myself to everyone and we sat in the warm sunshine chilling out until it got cold, which in fact wasn't too long after we'd arrived!!
It seemed everyone and their aunt were in the kitchen tonight. Thank god i'd just bought the uncle bens packet rice which took just 2 minutes to cook in the microwave! Jobs a goodn'. That meant that actually it was a perfect opportunity to get to know everyone else who i hadn't spoken to so far up until this point. This was when i met Becky and Lydia. They were once again lovely girls like everyone else i'd met so far. At dinner was also when I met Cat. She had been on an earlier bus but had a friend which she'd stayed with in the National Park for a few days. She came and joined in the conversation and actually it was Cat who then joined in with the other four girls i'd met earlier in the supermarket which became our core six girls in the group who roomed with one another from here on in.
The group sat around chatting and eating and eveyone slowly drifted off to bed. Once we were back in our room, and joey being the last to join, he had me in stitches since he was filling me in on some 'bed time stories' which the others had already heard. Joey was a real character. He is 22, T-total and a vegan. His has a very serious nature and the most distinctive part of his character which I found was his monotone voice. Having never drunk alchohol in his life, one of his bedtime stories involved him getting absolutely battered, mistakenly on his 22 birthday. The other was his Asian stalker friend who he spent the day with in Sydney which ended with a happy ending Thai massage. If I were to type these stories out here, one they probably wouldn't sound funny and two they're a bit crude. One thing is for sure however..... I knew that these people were proper on my wave length and after spending practically three weeks alone in SE Asia, I immediately knew this bus full of people travelling the South Island of NZ was going to be a real funny journey.