We decided over night that we really needed to cut back on campsite expenditure, our money was disappearing quick so we decided we would spend the next few nights in the DOC (Dept of conservation) campsites, basically fields with portaloos which you can camp on for next to nothing, so we grabbed some hot showers and headed off. As we were leaving Franz we spotted Predator, the name of the Spaceship belonging to the couple we'd spent a night with in Queenstown, so we left them a note on the windscreen and set off. Again we decided we would just drive and see how far we got, we made several stops on the way up the west coast, and as evening was drawing in we picked a campsite to head to. We found the site with minimal troubles and parked up for some noodles and a film. It was a gorgeous evening but there were far too many sandflies around, when cooking dinner i literally had over 50 on my legs and we didnt have and repellant, so we had to retire fairly early into the van.
We woke in the morning to find Predator parked up at the other end of the field, so we went over and caught up with Lewis and Claire and decided we would meet them at another DOC site in Abel Tasman later in the day. The flies were back so after a quick egg buttie we hit the road. Our destination was in the North end of Abel Tasman national park, and the drive up there was great, we stopped at a couple of small coastal towns to stretch the legs and have some icecreams, and slowly worked our way north. The final 20mins to the campsite was the worst road we've been on, extemely windey, extremely narrow and unsealed, but we arrived in one peace and found Lewis and Claire waiting for us. We all decided we needed just to relax, and so we did, we sat around for hours drinking a few beers, made our first campfire and enjoyed the time out the van.
On the way to the campsite we had arranged to go Kayaking the following morning, so after some bacon and egg sangers in the morning we set off to a near by beach, grabbed our kayaks and set out for a couple of hours paddling around the coast line, there were thousands of Shags nesting on a nearby island, and we saw a couple of seals out and about. We found a huge one chilling on a rock so floated around getting some pics, but he stunk, the smell was one of the worst ive ever smelt, a combination of fish, bad BO and turd. The kayaking was great though, very relaxing floating around, and the scenery was great out there. There was a long walk i had eyed up, about 26kms along the coast line however we decided the kayaking had covered our exercise whilst in Abel Tasman. We had a spot of lunch then waved off Lewis and Claire who had to catch a ferry over to the north island. We had decided we would try and book the ferry for the next day, so we headed to a town called Nelson for the night. We found a campsite, had some warm showers and recharged the ipods and cameras. We had left it too late to phone spaceships about the ferry so set an alarm to be up early the next day.
Sapceships were running a deal with which they paid for the vans on the ferry crossings, we weren't actually valid for this deal but thought we would try our luck, and it paid off. They agreed to pay for the van and we only had to pay for ourselves to cross, and we managed to get on a ferry in a few hours. It was still a couple of hours to picton where we had to get the ferry, and we only had 3 hours till check in so we gassed it straight down. We made the ferry and it took just over 3 hours untill we arrived in the North Island. The views when leaving the South were awesome, so we sat out back for the first hour, sadly watching the South Island disappear from view, we had loved every second of the south island and were sad to be leaving. After an hour we had to head inside, a farmer was shifting several sheep and cows over on the ferry and the smell was burning our nostrils up, so we spent the duration of the journey watching some awful film in the tv room.
We arrived in Wellington around 6pm and decided we would head to a campsite for the night, then come see the city properly in the morning, we were both in a really bad mood for some reason so we had some dinner and went to bed to sleep it off. We headed back into Wellington in the morning, and in better moods after a good nights sleep, but both struggled to connect with Wellington, we spent a couple of hours walking around then decided to get out of there, i guess 10am on a Tuesday morning probably isnt the best time to see a city at its best, but we had other places in our sights so hit the road. The first big difference between the North and South island we noticed was the roads were flatter and straighter, and in the end we ended up travelling 200kms further than we planned, purely because we were able to move so much quicker. We drove up the west coast, then ended up heading inland to the Tonganairo national park. We found a hotel which let Spaceships park in the carpark for free, and use their facilities so we stopped here for the night, we also decided we would walk the Alpine Crossing the following day, and got a cheap deal on return transport at the hotel so booked up.
The Alpine Crossing is known as NZ's greatest great walk, and we were told to prepare to walk through all 4 seasons of weather. I had actually read a fair bit about the walk and was really looking forward to it, however i held back some of the details from Chloe, knowing she wouldn't do it with me if she knew how high we would have to climb.
We set off at 8am and were dropped at the starting point, this is where Chloe discovered it was a 19.4km walk, and also that we would have to climb up 700m's, then descend 1.2km in total on the otherside. The first 4kms was pretty flat, but already Chloe was not happy, especially when she asked me; "why is this called a crossing and not just a walk?" and i replied "because we have to cross over between those two volcanos" and pointed to 2 mountains on the horizon 800m's up. We reached the first checkpoint fine, and then began the ascent up the the first crater, this climb was up about 350m's and was hard work, but the sun was out and after a few rests we reached the summit. We chilled and had some sandwichs sitting under the first mountain, a still active volcano, and the Mountain they used in lord of the rings as Mt doom, it looked pretty mean, and just how you would expect a volcano to look, a huge cone sticking up to the clouds!! Chloe cheered up thinking the climb was over, and we set off across the south crater on flat land, then Chloe clicked, we were in a crater and the only way out was up. The next climb was tougher and not as stable ground as the last, we climbed about another 300m's and finally reached the high point of our climb. From here we were greeted by the red crater, a still steaming vent, and the emerald lakes, three perfectly blue lakes in the middle of the crater. From here we entered the winter stage of the walk, and as we made our way across the next crater the temperature dropped and we had to trudge through knee deep snow! After a short hill to the blue lake, a large completely frozen lake we had cleared all the uphill we would have to do, we had taken around 4hours with a lunch break to get to this point, and still had around 12km's left, but all being downhill we travelled a lot quicker. The last stretch of the walk took us through more snow, and around the second mountain untill we were over looking lake taupo. Chloe was struggling to walk by now, so we made several stops untill we finally popped out at the end around 3.5 hours later. The walk was tough, but the scenery was again incredible, and i hope our photos do it justice. We were dropped back at the hotel, given a free beer to celebrate completing the walk, had some dinner and passed out in the van.
It is the day after today, and we both have a few aches but all in all we are in working order, we have made a short drive to Lake Taupo, the largest lake in NZ and the size of Singapore, and we are having a day doing nothing. Its just coming up to lunch time so im going to leave it here and go and grab some tucker!! We are ahead of schedule at the moment so going to chill around the lake for a couple of days and plan our next destination, a tough life!!