December 29, 2012
We are jolted awake around 6:00 a.m. by planes coming into the airport next door, close overhead. Babies cry, birds squawk, cars doors slam, engines spring to life, and a day in tent city begins. It rained all night and our tent is droopy and soggy, but outside the weather has changed and looks promising. We wish Hans Peter and Philip farewell, and agree meet at Abel Tasman National Park for New Year’s.
Today’s ride is on a bicycle trail that takes us through varied territory: along the bay, through fields decked out in midsummer glory, where signs explain the highly developed agricultural practices of the Maoris.
The journey continues under a roof of Australian gum trees, though pine woods carpeted with soft red needles, and along the shores of a beach with aqua-colored water and such stunning views of the mountains, we have an impromptu picnic of bread and cheese on the beach to drink in the splendid scenery.
There’s no dock for the ferry, which because of the changing tides, simply scrapes into shore, and lays down a plank so passengers can embark.
Life in New Zealand is refreshingly uncomplicated and simple. The ferry docks on the other side of the inlet at a holiday center of a few buildings where people eat ice cream or sit in the sun at outdoor cafés and restaurants, while children race along the shore throwing themselves into the water in the inlet, and drifting lazily down stream to the campground.
We join the crowd standing in line for what looks like soft ice cream, but is wonderful mixture of fresh fruit and yogurt whipped by a machine into a pastel colored, fluffy mass, served in soft twisted peaks.
After setting up at the campground, we return to the only place on the wharf that has free wifi. Three of our four children are living in Europe, and were given a Christmas gift of a trip to Istanbul, to meet up with us during their Easter holidays. We start booking the flights and looking for accommodation. Fish and chips at the campsite kiosk before turning in for an early night.