Waking up in a tent on the hard ground made me realise that I am not as manly as I had first thought. It is one thing to go camping but quite another to insist you don’t need anything between you and the ground apart from a sleeping bag. We had done the latter and were quickly regretting our life choices.
The morning was crisp and we awoke with the sunrise in the early hours in that way that only people camping can; Completely awake yet still a little tired. It was time to put our wakeup / washing plan into motion and start what was to become a bit of a morning tradition of jumping into the largest body of water available the moment we get up.
Heading down to the lake filled me with excitement and a little dread. Jumping into a lake at 6am is exactly the sort of thing our adventure was all about, making awesome memories and doing things we wouldn’t do in our day to day life. On the other hand though this was a lake…at 6am! Egging each other on we made our way down the jetty until we were faces with the expanse of seemingly freezing water in front of us. We both knew that we needed to get it over and done with as soon as possible, in and out, job done. but that still doesn’t make it any easier to throw ourselves in.
Still caked in dust from quadding the night before we counted to 3 and jumped into the freezing lake ready for a shock…. but there wasn’t a shock… and it wasn’t a freezing lake. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t warm by anyone’s imagination but it certainly wasn’t even slightly as cold as we expected. Our experience with water so far in New Zealand has mainly been either the cold South Pacific Ocean around Dunedin or the Glacial lakes of central Otago so this was a happy little surprise. Such a great surprise in fact that we ended up staying in the water for about 10 more minutes, climbing out to just jump back in again. A proper manly shower that made us proud of ourselves.
After getting ourselves clean it we managed to complete another task to makes us feel like real men. as we started to drive out of the car park we noticed that a piece of plastic on the bottom of the car was hanging down. Nothing major just a little missing clip but something we felt the need to fix none the less. Time to use the only 2 tools we could ever need, Duct tape and cable ties. People always ask me why I have these 2 things with me in one of my bags at times but they dont realise the amount of things you can fix in an emergency with these 2 little things. In this case we just needed 1 little cable tie and boom! Job done! High fives all around and then onwards.
New Zealand may be a little larger than the UK in terms of land mass, however it turns out that it is actually a really tiny place when it comes to bumping into people you know (as will become even more apparent the more I post). In this instance my friend Kim happened to be visiting her parents in Greymouth and decided to meet Craig and I in Hokitika for a day of adventure and to act as our personal guide. Out first stop (after taking pictures of the famous Hokitika driftwood sign) was to head down to the gorge around 30 mins out of time. Somehow our aimless driving with lack of signposts somehow managed to get us get us where we needed to be, a short walk from yet another amazing view that New Zealand happened to offer.
After walking down and winding path through the trees Hokitika Gorge is quite an unexpected, eye opening sight. Never in my life have I seen water the colour as it was here, a turquoise blue that looks as if it has been edited somehow to get its unnatural colour. The reason for this amazing colour is that the river is fed from cold glacial waters that get mixed in which silt as it churns down the river causing this hidden natural beauty. Although the scenery was beautiful there did happen to be quite a few sandflys in the area and anyone who has had experience with them will tell you that they are no fun at all. I actually posted a picture from the gorge at the time and got a photo response from CB who had quite a different experience there. When he had gone the water had been mixed up with flood waters and browney grey flood water was surging past the spot where I took my photos. It almost made it look like everything had been faked since the views were so different.
Next stop on the days tour was Greymouth its self and a spot of lunch at a brewery before emergency CD shopping. We still didnt really have any music on our travels and kept going out of radio reception so this seemed like a priority. I cant even remember how long it has been since I bought a CD and after trying to shop for one for 10 mins I remember why! It just seems to difficult to find an album that you might want to buy when there is no search function! It seemed like every CD was Christmas music or boy bands which wasn’t exactly what we wanted. We luckily ended up finding a rare Radio 1 Live Lounge CD so were pretty chuffed about that.
One of the key things about our adventure was that we were not booking any accommodation before we set off and this day was not an exception. This meant that we did end up having to scout about at the last minute to try and fine somewhere. As it happened there was a space left at a little camp site in a town called Rapahoe that we headed to, just outside of the Graymouth town centre. The site was run by an old couple and to say it was strange was a bit of an understatement. The showers in the main building were built into the lounge / kitchen area and there were lots of little strange trinkets all over the place. As it happened we managed to get the last spot on the site, the downside was that we had to pay for a powered site, yet we just had tents and nothing to plug in. That wouldst have been too bad of a bullet to bite if we didn’t return from dinner later to find more people camped out in the middle of the volleyball court!
Our little plot for camping actually turned out to be located in an awesome place. The ground was rock solid and full of stones but the proximity to the beach was pretty amazing. By going out the back of our plot and through some bushes we were right on the beach with an amazing view of the ocean. It was a pebble beach with plenty of driftwood and as the sun started to set that night we wondered down the beach, found a nice little alcove an made ourselves a fire. At many points along this trip it seems like Craig and I actually had a little romantic time and you know what, we bloody well did! Nothing like chilling on a beach with a fire while watching the sun set.
As the temperature started to cool and the fire started to cool it was time to take ourselves of for yet another of our infamous early nights (we are such party animals!). As a bonus we had purchased ourselves some foam bed rolls to sleep on in an attempt to be comfier than our previous nights sleep. Hopefully they manage to help take the sting out of the crappy stony ground.
The sun had set on another epic day with many more to come.