We rushed out far too early this morning to make sure we made the 8am ferry from Wellington to the south island.Â There were five of us from the original bus, which Iâ€™ll refer to from here on out as Bus #1.Â With the new passengers, we had a bit of a bridge in Lauren, a woman from London whoâ€™d been with us previously, had gotten off to surf in Raglan and then hopped on the bus behind us.
The way the buses work in the winter, theyâ€™re running a couple days apart all on the same circuit.Â This makes it easy to plan meet ups down the road which is what weâ€™re planning on doing when we all get to Queenstown.Â During drinks last night, and again along our 3 hour ferry ride, Lauren helped break the ice between the people moving south from Bus #2 and the group from Bus #1.
The Ferry To Picton
The ferry ride itself wasnâ€™t too bad with coffee, a movie and snacks on board.Â Most of us were tired from the previous night but we managed to stay awake and brave the rain to get some pictures as we slowly made our way into Picton, the arrival town for the ferry.
We had a long drive to Abel Tasman National Park, and most people stuck to themselves or small groups along the way.Â It wasnâ€™t until we arrived at our accommodation that we finally got to know each other.Â As people sat around the lounge in our small hostel, we were already arranged in a pretty big circle and did a bit of a name game to get the initial unknown out of the way.
I strongly recommend to everyone that you make sure the group gets to know each other as quickly as possible.Â If the driver doesnâ€™t take the reins and make you play some sort of game to introduce yourselves, try and make it happen the first night the group is together.Â Those bonds will become stronger along the way and make for a better group environment for your tour.
Stray Day 10 â€“ Abel Tasman
Finally, a beautiful day!Â It was wonderful not to wake up to the sound of rain this morning as we all had outdoor activities planned in the park.Â Sailing, kayaking and hiking are the main options, although if youâ€™re there for 3-5 days you can do the full trek.Â If youâ€™re around in the summer, you can also opt to go swimming with seals.
I did an option with Aqua Taxi called â€œSeals and Sandâ€, which was recommended to me by one of the Stray folk back in Auckland.Â As he had said, the tour covered the major sites to see from the water, including a stop at a seal colony, and then dropped us off at Tonga Bay for a four-hour walk before the boat picked us up at Anchorage Bay in the afternoon.
By all accounts, the portion of the walk we did covered some of the best parts of the full 3-5 day trek.Â It really was a spectacular afternoon, shifting from pristine beaches to waterfalls to sub-tropical jungle and back during the day.Â The rain came for a brief spell right as we stopped for lunch and was gone again when we resumed the walk, making for a beautiful day out.
Stayed at Abel Tasman again this evening.Â With not much to do and everyone exhausted from taking advantage of the first day of nice weather in a while, we mostly ate, talked and crashed at our own pace.
The above is posted from the road during the middle of a month long trip through New Zealand withÂ Stray.Â If you donâ€™t know who stray is, read theÂ intro to the trip with stray orÂ check out their website.
In an attempt to give you an idea of what the trip is like Iâ€™ll be posting like I was writing a journal, but with some practical information in case you want to follow in my footsteps.
DISCLOSURE: I HAVE RECEIVED A DISCOUNTED TOUR PACKAGE Â WITH STRAY BUT WILL MAINTAIN AN HONEST OUTLOOK AND PASS ALONG BOTH THE GOOD AND THE BAD AS ACCURATELY AS I CAN.