Rural South Island

I’m back after a week of long travel days full of adventure and crazy memories!

Sunday was a day of travel but we spent a few hours at a local dairy farm along the way to Hokitika. It was one of the two dairy farms along the west coast of the South Island and we learned a lot about how the production process works and the future of the dairy industry. We even had the chance to milk the cows and then drink the milk (pretty sure it was whole milk times 3). Then we continued our bus ride up the coast with beautiful views of the ocean the entire way. Once we finally got to Hokitika, some of us went to the beach to soak up the rays despite the fact it was still 50 degrees outside. *Fun fact, some of their beaches have pebbles instead of sand and it creates the most fascinatingly perfect sound when the waves crash. New favorite sound to add to the list. Later that night after making pizza, we went and explored another glowworm dell. Alec (one of the students on my trip) decided to go hide up in the bushes farther up the trail so he could pop out and scare us in the pitch-black darkness. However, a group of other people went ahead of us on the path and because it was so dark, ended up getting attacked by Alec who jumped out thinking it was us. We heard the screaming further up the trail and knew what happened, therefore causing us to literally fall to the ground sobbing we were laughing so hard. Oh sweet revenge.

On Monday, we drove to see the Pancake rocks (look at the photo link below to see why it’s called that)! We followed a nice little boardwalk along the cliffs with gorgeous views of the coast and lots of photo opportunities. As soon as we knew it, we had driven for hours along the coast and through the mountains and were at the Nelson Lakes. We got all checked in to our accommodation, had a class lecture, and then made a family dinner in our hostel kitchen of Mexican rice. Afterwards, a group of us hiked out to the larger of the Nelson Lakes in complete and utter darkness because the moon wasn’t even up yet and out onto one of the docks, shining a flashlight at the water and luring in tons of long- finned eels… update: they’re still creepy. We stayed out on that dock for 3 hours staring at all of the Milky Way and it was the clearest night yet- I counted 16 shooting stars. Now that is ridiculous! It was so clear we could see a constellation called the Southern Cross that’s only visible from the southern hemisphere! It was also so incredibly cold that we formed a line of bodies to block the wind and had designated rotation times every few minutes so the person on the end wouldn’t freeze to death. No kidding I think it was like 20 degrees, but seeing the stars that clearly was 1000000% percent worth it. The next day, we went for a nice little walk through Nelson Lakes National Park on a trail called Honeydew Track and learned a lot about different native tree species and their characteristics and roles in supporting the local wildlife.

By Wednesday, we had made it Motueka which is right outside Abel Tasman National Park. We had a full day of kayaking starting out with questionable weather, but by the time we were all in our kayaks in the freezing cold 50 degree water, there were bright blue skies ahead of us and a beautiful rainbow behind us. My heart was so content. We kayaked along the coast for a little before stopping at a beach and having lunch and hot chocolate. Who knew I’d ever be able to say I drank hot chocolate sitting at the beach?! For some crazy reason, I decided to go for a little dip in the Tasman Sea which ended up being painfully cold but also really awesome. Then we started our hike back to town along the Abel Tasman track with absolutely gorgeous views of the coast. It looked a lot like Costa Rica with huge fern palms along the cliffs down to bright blue waters, and was definitely one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever been on. On the way back, there was a group of 8 of us with no leaders or directions, just a time to return by. It was so refreshing to be able to take it all in and reflect on how beautiful the park truly was.

On Thursday we started our trek to Kaikoura, a small beach town known for its wildlife and beautiful coast. We stopped a few minutes out of town to go on a quick hike up to a waterfall where baby fur seals were swimming all around. It was by far the cutest thing I have ever witnessed. (I require you to go watch the video in the link below because it was just too adorable). Afterwards, we drove to a hike that went through meadows and along the cliffs right next to the Pacific Ocean. It was unbelievable. One second you were walking through knee high grass next to cows and the next you were 5 feet from a sheer drop off with a view of hundreds of seals sunbathing on the rocks far below. It’s impossibly hard to pick a favorite hike, but this one was most definitely top 3. You could say I was in heaven.

One more week in New Zealand!