New Zealand: Abel Tasman National Park [day one]

Since Tanya is the writer in the family, I put her in charge of keeping a travelogue of our little honeymoon roadtrip through New Zealand.  Over the next couple months I should be posting up images from our adventures and her tidbits from over there.  Enjoy the pics, we ended up with over 10 gigs worth of images which got whittled down to around 1,200 final photos that I spent a month going through.  Enjoy!

Leaving Los Angeles [Dec. 19]

The cab driver comes ten minutes early, which means we don’t have enough time for proper pet goodbyes.  A kiss on the head for the dog, cat, rabbit and we are at the door.  The air on the way to the airport tastes like the regret of unfinished business, but mostly of adventures to come.  We take off late at night so falling asleep comes easier, but we’re still in a vessel of canned air trained at 38,000 feet.  Sleep comes but it doesn’t stay.

First dinner arrives, prepackaged reheated meals that burn my fingers as I lift the aluminum lids on each compartment.  The options were Mahi Mahi which sounded like ‘marbles’ in the mouth of the New Zealand flight attendant and yet so quaint, but there’s something off about eating fish when you’re so high in the air. And chicken.  ‘It’s ten hours to the next meal’ the flight attendant tells the passenger one row up who turns down the hot food.

After a few bites of the chicken I turn down any more, unroll my blanket and get back to the business of sleeping.  Up in the air they turn down the lights and then turn them back on again when they want you to wake.  I sleep, Ian in and out of consciousness on my shoulder and the window.  Muscles freeze into a tired stupor and later I find I can’t turn my neck to the right.  Ian’s on my left, so none of that matters anyway.

Later, a child a few rows back lifts his shade.  Sunshine pierces through the artificial dark.  The whole cabin floods with light.

Auckland to Nelson [Dec. 21]

New Zealand looks pretty as we bear down upon her.  Grey, under the roll of clouds, but above all green.

We catch another flight out of Auckland to the South Island; having walked 15 minutes from the International terminal to domestic, we are windblown, it’s crazy weather outside.  Ian already regrets not bringing anything warm.

The North Island looks pretty leaving, the South Island even prettier coming down.  We’re on a small prop propeller plane with the isles barely big enough to fit down.  Little kids are playing in the middle of the isle and the stewardess doesn’t seem to mind; she brings them lollipops.  Finally it’s time to be on solid ground.  Nelson airport has one runway, and clearly no security to go through.  Everyone is waiting/cheering for the landing plane just off the tarmac.

We decide to collect the rental car, a little white Toyota Yaris whose trunk is laughable because of the lack of luggage we have.  We’re running on two backpacks and they barely fit in, we have to whack them and somehow get the trunk down.  The car is a manual and Ian has to sit on the passenger side, shifting with his left hand while driving on the left side of the road.  Everything about this feels so backwards, but it can’t be wrong because the sun shines warm through the windows.

Our GPS takes us through six roundabouts in the first five minutes.  We hit one wrong turn and then finally face the open road.

Everything is beautiful.

Everything is Summer.

Flowers open up against the highway.  Homegrown vineyards butt up against water so blue, so turquoise  you wonder if you can imagine it.

Any yet there is this: hand lettered signs at the side of the road, “Christmas Trees $15”

We stop on the way to our destination.  Motueka is the nearest town of size and it’s the hometown of the Hertz rental car woman’s mom.  Most importantly it has a grocery store.  We stock up on Cheerios, peanut butter, apples, fruit snacks, and bread.  The stuff of our upcoming hiking meals.  We buy a soda with real sugar, drink it on a park bench while we eat a chicken salad sandwich for Ian, egg salad for me.  We eat a half a can of Pringles once we get back in the car.

The road to the Buena Vista Apartments in Marahau is lined with pines and all sorts of other beautiful plants that I don’t know the name for.  Our apartment overlooks the sea and if you lay on your back on the kitchen floor you can see through the skylight to everything blue overhead.

We drop off our bags after thanking the owner, a man who moved from Germany twenty years ago.  He seems eager to let us get to our business.  Ian is eager to go swimming.

We drive the two minutes to Abel Tasman park, slathered in sunscreen so the whole car smells like Summer.  We take the wrong way to a path and find ourselves at a dead end.  Take pictures and video for the art student honeymoon documentary we are compiling.

Once we find the right path, we leave it.  This is just the way things go with Ian.  One minute the cool, shaded undergrowth of the path, the next one impatience to slide down a cliff to get to the beach.  We breakthrough onto rocky sand, a whole area drained by low tide.  We watch birds scuttle in search of food, calling to each other.  When they go quiet there is just the sound of wind in your ears.  The shore is very far away.

We walk towards it, that meld of ocean and earth, and the temperature goes hot and cold.  Sweatshirt off and on.  There is no one out here but us and the birds.

We decide to head back after a stretch, take a different route through the marsh.  Out of nowhere a momma bird circles at us, shrieking, orange beak flashing violently.  When we get back to the high water mark we see a sign saying birds are nesting, keep clear.  Of course.

Se we walk lower, away from the marsh grass and slumped, abandoned seaweed.  And we are almost, almost in the clear.  Then, suddenly, another momma bird.  She shrieks, circling low. ‘Ian…..RUN!’.  I don’t know which way to go, but this bird is intent on ripping off a limb.  Ian stays in place, trying to focus his camera on her to take a video.  She dives two feet from his head.  Multiple times.

Too close.  We run the rest of the way, muck suckling at our flip flops, leadening our steps.

We eat a relieved dinner overlooking the marsh where we just came from.  The wind blows through open windows.  Another soda with real sugar.  Garlic bread to die for.

We come back to our apartment with a view of the sea.  Draw the blinds so we can shower.  Downloaded pictures.  And wrote this.

New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand

  • Lin - the second bird… small, dark, orange bill… looks like an oysrercatcher.

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