On Valentines Day Ash, Dana, and I moved from Queenstown to live the “Vagabond Lifestyle”. Our new address is ’91 Blue Subaru. We have been camping as much as possible to cut down on costs and have seriously been checking things of our list by heaps. To start off our homelessness we decided to go hiking/camping for 9 days. We braved a walk called the Northwest circuit. This walk goes around the perimeter of Stewart Island (South of NZ’s South Island). The walk is about 130km, so it did take a bit of effort, especially with our packs carrying 10days worth of food. When we left for the track we were warned about flooding rain that causes knee high mud. God definitely wanted us to enjoy this trip because we had awesome weather for the first 6days. The last 3days were a wee bit rainy, but as we love puddles we made the best of getting wet. We walked on gorgeous beaches occupied by no one, and saw landscapes that reminded us of the Pacific Islands. Half way through our trip we all noticed our pleasing aroma, and decided it was time for a swim in the very South Pacific, about 55*-60* water. Because we were the only occupants, and none of us had our swim gear we had a definite mermaid time. Seconds after we were clean and nearly dressed a couple of helicopters flew overhead dropping deer hunters, PERFECT timing on our parts, for sure. Stewart Island allegedly has Kiwi’s, Penguins, Seals, and Prehistoric Lizards. I can only attest to penguins, as I did not see any of the other animals. I’m pretty sure there is a conspiracy going on lying about what animals are “native” to New Zealand. I’ve seen heaps of “non-native” animals (cows, sheep, and deer), but few famous native animals.
On our next to last day walking I noticed that my pack was missing an attachment. Quickly I realized I had lost an essential traveling possession, my Right Foot Chaco. This may not seem like the end of the world to most of you, but believe me it is close; I no longer have the perfect walking sandals. I left a message in the Visitor logbook to contact me if found, but I haven’t had any punters yet (it’s probably stuck in the infamous mud). I am still in denial, and wear my Left Foot Chaco without a mate (yes, this does cause my neighbors obvious confusion). I’m even considering writing Chaco to see if they will have sympathy and replace my beloved shoe. Our biggest frustration (beside my lost shoe) was on the first day our only camera quit working. I know what you are thinking, “How can we be sure you even went to Stewart Island without proof of photos?” Well have faith, we made a German Friend named Frank, and he is uploading his photos onto a CD for us. Let’s hope is good at keeping promises and can help us prove our journey.
After we had finished our walk we jumped on the ferry seconds before it was meant to leave the port, and headed back to the South Island. As we had been carrying our packs for 8+ days we knew how pleasant they smelled, so on the ferry we made a point to set them down away from where we were sitting. Unfortunately the people who chose the seats directly behind our packs did not have this same inside knowledge, and were trying to the best of their ability to cover the noses… highly unsuccessful.
For the last few days we have been stopping wherever our hearts desire and have been seeing some awesome things (we have photos of these). We have seen Penguins, Sea lions, Aquariums, Museums, Botanical Gardens, Prehistoric Boulders, Dinosaur Fossils, Baby Wallabies, Billions of Stars, and Mt Cook.
We ventured off the beaten path a bit, walked down and the beach and quite literally ran into Seal Lions…. well not literally, but nearly ran into…. they were about 2meters away and were looking super adorable. On another side trip we ventured to see the wallaby lady. Wallabies are basically little kangaroos. Wallabies are not native to New Zealand, but have been introduced for gaming purposes (I think) and are in a specific area of the South Island that has natural boundaries so they cannot venture out. We paid $10 to “cuddle” a 6month old and to feed numerous others, seriously cool. As we entered town we were given the option to partake in “wallaby-pie” but fortunately the restaurant was closed, as they are so adorable.
We have been “freedom” camping where we are able, and paying for hostels otherwise. Last night we ventured to Mt Cook, New Zealand’s tallest peak. We decided we would do a quick 3hour hike and camp at one of the DOC’s huts for free. Keep in mind the sun sets at 830pm; we started our treck around 630pm last night, Brilliant. At about 904pm last night we realized that we were not going to make it to our hut without breaking an ankle due to lack of “sonar senses” and made the executive decision to sleep under the stars. We walked 10minutes back down the track and set up our sleeping bag site. Luckily each of us had packed extra warm clothing, hats, and mittens. We were pretty much set for our unsheltered night. From here just prayed for clear skies and no rain. We all agreed we could see billions of stars, and the Milky Way was spectacular. Both Dana and Ash saw numerous shooting stars, but I was less fortunate and only saw one (I was distracted by my story telling skills). Finally I asked, “Are you looking up? or down?” Ash responded, “Um, I’m pretty sure I’m looking up!” Dana added, “Oh you mean I’m not supposed to be lying on my stomach?” Luckily we were the only people around sleeping under the stars, because we definitely did not try to stifle our uproar.
This morning we were awoken by a Kea (Large Bird) thumping around our sleeping bags and picking up our things. Despite our best efforts to scare off our feathered companion with rhetoric (we were armless in our sleeping bags) he still managed to steal my Right Reef Flip-Flop. Now I have two non-matching sandals for my one left foot, awesome. Cheeky bird.