The early morning bus ride to the ferry terminal was filled with smiles. Not because of the actual bus ride, but because the tour bus driver that was taking us to the terminal actually played mainstream music. The whole North Island trip was accompanied by a soundtrack of obscure Kiwi only music. To be fair, there are some great Kiwi bands that create some outstanding songs. But when you have to listen to nothing but 'hidden gems' of the Kiwi music scence for two weeks, it gets a little old. My fellow travelers were happy to listen to songs that they had actually heard before. The entire 10 minute bus ride was taken in extreme pleasure. However, as soon as we exited the bus we were transported back to reality. That is, waiting in line for way too long at way too early in the morning. After boarding the ferry I made it be known to my friends that the four hour ferry ride from Wellington in the North Island to Picton in the South Island would be my first ferry ride. "Watch out, you might get seasick.", was the most common response to my first time ferry rider confession. I was on the ferry with veterans of this mode of transportation it seemed. And, honestly, I was a bit worried about becoming seasick somewhere along the journey. So what did I do? Promptly ordered up a eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, and toast breakfast of course. Probably not the course of action most people would encourage, but I was hungry and hadn't had breakfast food in ages. After breakfast we all found a spot to congregate and settled in for the ride. The seas were exceptionally choppy this morning and soon after settling in, people started feeling ill. And soon after that, they started throwing up. A lot. The veteran ferry riders from my group were not the only ones negatively affected by the overzealous waves. As you looked around the ferry you could find people everywhere using there complimentary barf bags; sometimes even two or three of them. All the while, there I sat. Not affected in the slightest. Yes, this was my first time. And no, it was not gentle. But, I managed just fine anyways.
After arriving in Picton we immediately boarded a bus bound for Nelson. Nelson is famous in New Zealand for having the most amount of sunshine filled days out of any town on either island. It is also where the geographical center of New Zealand is. Most of the tour group signed up for a 3 night stay in Nelson so that we could hike the Abel Tasman National Park. It was a sad time when some of our group members decided to move on after only one night, though. There were two options for the Abel Tasman hike. One: do the shorter hike ( I want to say it was about 10 km) or the longer hike that is 24 km. Of course I had to do the longer hike. My two Danish friends that had been on the bus with me since it left Auckland also signed up to take part in the longer hike. Everyone else chose to take the shorter walk. After taking an early morning bus ride to the hiking tour center, we took a water taxi up the coast to the drop off point in order to start the hike. A furious pace was decided on at the onset as we were determined to catch up the the group as quickly as we could. It had been decided that the group would stop at a beach about 3 km from the end of the trail and we would meet them there. However, the Danes and I had visions of catching up with the group before they even made it to the beach. An almost impossible feat unless we ran, which we nearly did, but one that we thought we had an outside chance of obtaining. Nearly a third of the way into our hike we had a choice: either take the beach route for a few km, or take the inland trek instead. We chose the beach route and were going along just fine until an unforseen obstacle found us. The tide has decided to come in while we were making our way across what was a drained area of land. We stopped and decided that instead of going all the way back around that we would just take off our shoes and wade across before the tide came all the way in. After forging ahead promptly finding out that the water was much deeper than I had thought, we decide that wouldn't work. Taking off our shorts was the next logical step. So, we did and waded into the water. Although we made farther, we did not make it far enough. The water quickly showed us that our clothes would get soaked if we wanted to continue with this course of action. After the most recent failure the Danes looked at each other and said, "naked". Without hesitation they stripped down, carried all of their belongings above there heads and took off. I, of course, followed suit and plowed through the water. Which was, no doubt, surprised that it had not stopped us in our tracks like it intended. The water came up to my chest as we waded through it on our way to the far end. A two person kayak was lucky enough to row by during our excursion through the water. I'm not sure, but I swear they slowed down just enough to try to see us exit the water on the far end. After making to the far end of the water filled inlet, we dressed and resumed our manic pace down the trail. Eventually we caught up with the others at the beach. Sadly, they had been there 30 minutes before we joined them, dashing our hopes of meeting them along the trail. After a couple hour detour holiday on the beach, the group started the final leg of the trail. One of the Danes and I pushed on and made it to the end first. Thereby completing the actuall hiking portion of the trip in 3 1/2 hours. Afterwards, we all returned to Nelson and enjoyed the sunshine until the bus picked us up so that we could continue our journey south.