Alba and I woke up earlier than we would’ve liked to catch the ferry from Wellington to Picton. It was still dark when we crept out of our room and caught the bus to the ferry terminal.
The ride to the South Island took about three-and-a-half hours, and unfortunately, the weather was pretty horrible the entire way. I’m sure the scenery would’ve been great if it’d been sunny. Instead, we had cold wind and rain for most of the trip.
When we arrived in Picton, we collected our bags and stopped for a quick lunch at a bakery. The weather on this side of the Cook Straight wasn’t much better. Good thing I bought a pair of gloves and a beanie while I was in Auckland. I have a feeling I’ll be needing them again.
We continued toward Marahau (also known as Abel Tasman National Park), stopping for some photo opps and a wine tasting near Nelson. I’m pretty sure the backpacker crowd is not likely to be high on the income-generating list for that winery. Even $2 for four samples of wine was too much for some people on the bus. God forbid they tell us how much an entire bottle costs!
We reached Old MacDonald’s Farm (yes, that’s what it was called) in Marahau and many people got their first taste of “roughing it” in New Zealand. While we didn’t actually have to sleep in tents or even semi-permanent tents, the accommodations were a little basic. The bunks were housed in wooden huts that could sleep between four and six people. These sleeping quarters were set away from the kitchen, which just had basic cooking supplies. Behind the kitchen were two outdoor showers and toilets, which, of course, only offered cold water.
Considering the conditions Alba and I had survived through in Australia, this was luxurious in comparison. However, some people were really struggling with Old Mac’s Farm, especially because it was freezing cold at night. Even with heaters, you still had to layer on the clothes and snuggle in to keep warm.
For dinner we all pitched in some money and Rob fried us up some bangers and mash on the barbecue. He also bought several kilos of green-lipped mussels for us to try as they’re pretty famous in these parts. Everything turned out pretty good in the end, and I even tried the mussels. They were huge and kind of chewy like clams. However, I think I’d still consider myself a meat eater if anyone asks and will leave the seafood for someone else. After dinner someone made a fire and we just sat around and talked late into the night.