Walkin’ about in NZ!

Hey and welcome back to the blog of the Walkabout Crew!

We have been a busy bunch these past 9 days. We started in Wellington where we got to be in a big city for the first time while being in New Zealand. We got to have time to explore, eat great food and be independent. We had a few options of some things that we got to choose to go see. There was Zelandia, which was a bird sanctuary where you got to see all sorts of native birds. Some of us went onto a cable car and headed towards the botanical garden to see some pretty flowers as well as some native plants to New Zealand. Another option was the Te Papa Museum which had 7 floors of cool history to
see. Others even opted to take part in a coastal hike, the Escarpment trail, which was about 10 kilometers and took a 45 minute train ride to get to. We all freely got to choose where we wanted to go. While in Wellington, many of us were also able to get a hold of our loving parents, which all of us were so thankful to be able to hear or see them.

Then we had to head to a ferry to the south island early in the morning of the 9th. We had to walk and use our navigation skills to know how to get there. It was about 26 minutes and the overall ferry was about 3 hours long. From there, we got on to a bus to pick up our backpacks and met our guides Joni and later Andrew. Then Joni drove us 2 hours to Whenua iti’s main site. We were showed around and told what the next few days would look like. We then slept outside for the first time to help us prepare for the days to come. The next day we head toward a campsite to get ready for the Abel Tasman trail. We stopped a few times along the way to look at some spots such as a short beach hike and a natural fresh water spring that is sacred to the Maori people. The campsite we stayed at was called Wharaiki and we so glad to get there because it had been raining all day. There we had dinner and put up our own tents. That night we ate dinner out of left over bean cans and having minimal cooking materials so that we can learn how to live more simply. The first day of hiking on the Abel Tasman Trail we were going from Wharaiki campsite to Onetahuti bay. Then went to Anchorage and then finally to Morahau. We woke up to find out that Andrew had a stomach bug and wouldn’t be able to join us for the hike. This hike challenged us physically as we had to carry our backpacks while walking all day. It pushed our limits but it only made us stronger. For some of us it was something completely new. We pushed each other to keep going even when our feet and back were killing us. The views were amazing and we were able to start and end every day with a view of a beach. Sleeping on the beach was something that was an amazing experience for all of us. We hit a point where a lot of the group ended up getting sick while on the hike. It was a 24 hour bug that some of us got while at Anchorage and some of us got it a few days later, but we all supported one another. We tried to stay positive and support those people who had gotten it. It is something that we will be able to look back on later and laugh about. Most of us pushed each other to finish the trail of the Abel Tasman. In total we walked around 25 miles from start to finish. It felt so good for us to be able to accomplish something like this.

Then we came back to Whenua Iti and had a chance for some group activities and games. We did low ropes. We had to balance on a rope wire either by yourself or with another person. We also did high ropes as well. We all took turns going up and walking across the ropes and also belaying. We made sure that the person that was walking was safely brought down and went safely across. We played team building games which worked on what we call step forward, step back.

Our original plan for the days following the backpacking trip was to go on an overnight sea kayaking trip but the night before a few more us came down with the stomach bug. So instead, we went mountain biking for those who were well. It was a trail that was hand made and is kept up by people who volunteered to maintain trails. Rob, who accompanied us, had been working on those trails along with a group of volunteers for 9 years. We started off on the easy routes and then eventually went to intermediate which was chosen by people who wanted to do it. It was a fun activity that definitely will leave a mark…literally. Many people fell off the bikes, ran into trees and even fell into some ditches. It was all good physical fun.

We also went sea kayaking. We went in groups of two working together to steer a kayak. It was nice and calming to just be on the ocean. We saw cool birds, a seal pup and even a jellyfish. We kayaked for about an hour and stopped at this small island for lunch. It was also an opportunity for us to have some time to ourselves and just take in the views and the sound of the waves. When we kayaked back the waves got a little more intense. When we got back to land we were told to put all the kayaks and other supplies in silence.

Our last day with Whenua Iti, we woke up early and ended our time with some group activities. We did an activity where one person was attached to a harness to a long rope and everyone else was harnessed and pulled the person up. It was a fun experience for all of us. Then we did skits about our highs, our struggles during and things that we learned during our time with Whenua Iti. We absolutely have loved all our time spent here and have learned a lot about challenging oneself more than we are used to. We’ve had a blast these past 9 days but we are now heading for student directed travel towards Karamea.

P.S. — The group is back to normal health and we are back to our normal selves!

All the love,
Walkabout Crew