The farming experience concluded after a little over a week. I can see myself doing this for at most one month more if the tasks continue to be this repetitive. Onto our next journey, we will be joining a new travelmate from Belgium to explore the west side of South Island in a two-week timeframe. It may be a bit rushed since our travelmate only has two weeks from his holiday break for South Island, but we figured we can always revisit certain spots after this road trip wraps up.
First step, go to K-Mart for camping gears. This brings back memories of the two-week camping trip I did in the West Coast of Australia in a flimsy $15 AUD tent, thin sleeping bag, and floatie as a sleeping mat. Unaware of how much camping we would do, we bought the cheapest tent for $17 NZD and budget sleeping bags. I bought a floatie as a mat as well, but I never ended up using it after realizing how small the tent actually is. I think this 2-person tent is supposed to fit two children and not two adults. Little did we know, we ended up camping 80% of the time in those two weeks under heavy rain and wind. While the rain did not start dripping through the tent, the water did seep through and you can feel it when you touch the sides. This restricts the tiny sleeping space even more.
I confused myself of what the Fiordlands encompasses with the West Coast a little; I thought Milford Sound was considered to be on the West Coast initially. Looking a my Lonely Planet guide book, there were not too many recommendations of towns to stop by other than the glaciers. Well our first stop is Abel Tasman National Park.
Abel Tasman National Park contains one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Prior to coming to New Zealand, I was very keen on at least doing one of the Great Walks. I later learned that they are overly popular and the huts and campsites for overnight stays get booked up very quickly at the start of the summer season. Also since they are so popular, there would be a lot of people on the routes. I was less excited about doing the Great Walks since they are costly and crowded, but I did want to experience an overnight hike. We spent two days and one night at the Abel Tasman. We only reached Anchorage before setting the tent for the night and walking back the following day. Since we tried reserving our camp spot so late, we had to separate from our travelmate and walk back to another small camspite by the beach at Akersten.
At our campsite, there were not many options of where to setup our tent so we picked a spot on the beach that is the furthermost from shore. The two other campers there had hammocks so they were not bothered by where the water would reach during high tide, which was around 3AM for that night. I could barely sleep that night because of two reasons: 1) the tent was set up on a slant so I kept sliding downward, and 2) I was worried that the water would rise to our tent. That was quite the reintroduction to the camping life again. It was so much more of a challenge to be carrying our gear while hiking and in the light rain too. I am not sure how I feel about doing a multi-day hike with all the baggage.
Going southward on the West Coast, the only notable stop we had was to the Pancake Rocks at Paparoa National Park. To my delightful surprise, Pancake Rocks was really scenic and beautiful. It was unexpected since most of the popular tourist spots have been a miss for us. However, I would advise to skip the nearby Punakaiki – Porari Loop trail since it was anticlimactic. The walk was not challenging and there was barely any changing landscapes unlike what the staff at the iSite promised.
Our hosts at Nelson warned us about South Island’s infamous nuisance, sandflies. We encountered quite a flew during our farming days when we visited the Nelson Lakes. The number of sandflies and bites got worse as we travelled down south. Sandfly bites are so itchy! They are terrible creatures that comes in little swarms attacking any bit of skin they can latch onto. They mostly attacked my ankles where there is a gap between my leggings/pants and my shoes. The first DOC camp we stayed at is Lake Lanthe where it is filled with sandflies. That was when we got our first full dose of sandflies. We tried to be careful with opening and closing our tents at night. This DOC campsite did not have a warden so the camp fee was paid via an honor system into this little deposit box. No one came to check that night nor the next morning. Despite the sandflies, we got to enjoy a nice sunset over the lake even though the sun eventually was blocked by the hills and trees.