I think we can all agree that this year has been extraordinary. A little messed up, a little apocalyptic.
It felt right to take a week off and get away from it all. I wanted to get off the grid – a week without phone reception and breaking news push notifications.
Easier said than done – insert funny Social Dilemma reference here.
There are a lot of places in New Zealand to “go wild”. And we chose one of the wildest places of the country as our destination:
The west coast of the Tasman region.
The drive: No one around
As beautiful as the drives are, it’s often very irritating travelling New Zealand. Think 1 million tourists a year on narrow, winding roads.
Not so this year. The tourism industry in New Zealand is struggling with the borders being closed to keep COVID-19 at bay.
Living in New Zealand during this time feels very special (check out my blog post about living in New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic to find out why). There is an opportunity to explore it without anyone around and to support local businesses that would usually rely on tourists along the way.
New Zealand roads aren’t as crammed as they usually are at the moment. Accommodation is easy to find and landmarks that haven’t been empty for years are now deserted.
First stop: Murchison
We stopped in Murchison to break up the drive from Christchurch up North. Murchison – or “Murchy” – is a little village that consists of accommodation for people stopping over and fly-fishermen. Whoop whoop.
Outside of the main tourist season (November – March), there is only one pub that serves dinner. So, if you don’t eat meat or have any other dietary requirements, it’s probably best you bring your own food or shop at the local supermarket.
There isn’t a whole lot of stuff going on in Murchison. There are a few nice spots down my the river and the BnB we stayed in was an attraction in itself (check out the Murchison Lodge).
The Wild Wild West: Kahurangi National Park
Next stop: the wild wild west of the Tasman Region.
From Collingwood, a small village in the Golden Bay region, we drove west out to the coast. This place is deserted even in normal – non-COVID – times, just because not every car / driver can handle the roads.
If you’re brave enough, you will be rewarded with stunningly wild coast lines, rock formations and sand dunes. This place is so different to anything I’ve seen in New Zealand and in the world.
The stormy weather made for some pretty cool photos, don’t you think?
We stayed on a farm with our friends and a bunch of baby animals (lambs and puppies).
We spent four days exploring the farm on a motor bike, reading, drinking tea, shearing sheep and drinking more tea.
A blissful getaway from city life.
Let me make a tiny literary excursion at this point. The book I read on a holiday usually sets my mood and thoughts for the trip:
My read on the road: Everything I Know about Love by Dolly Alderton
I had been following Dolly on Instagram (@dollyalderton) for a while. I had always loved her style of fashion, humour and writing.
So I decided to give her first book a crack – Everything I Know about Love (published by Penguin in 2019).
Dolly writes about her life to date – about her teens, her 20s, her life as a Londoner on the “tinnies” (as in cans of beer, not boats), her writing career, mental health, her friends and, of course, love.
What I loved most about this book was that I felt there were a lot of parallels between Dolly’s life and mine. A lot of things I recognised (even though living your 20s in London would be completely different to living them in Christchurch).
It was the thoughts and developments she went through that felt familiar, that I think a lot of women in their late teens and 20s go through.
I’m thinking things like body image, insecurities, self doubt, feeling a bit lost.
Dolly has a way of writing that is witty, funny and that sucks you in. There are some dark moments and a lot of hilarious ones, with a pleasant feminist undertone steadily drawing through her words.
This was a great read on the road that brought some reflection and fun to the time away.
The way back home
First stop: Te Waikoropupu Springs
Back to the the road!
After four days on the farm, it was time to head back home to Christchurch. We took it slow and stopped at a few landmarks along the way.
The Te Waikoropupu Springs – or Pupu Springs – are a nice little stop over right by the road from Collingwood to Takaka.
Is it magic? Is it a photo editor? No, this is the springs’ natural colour!
The clear turquoise springs are a sacred site for Maori people – quite understandably!
Second stop: Kaiteriteri
We were heading into Abel Tasman country now. Kaiteriteri is the little village where most people start the Abel Tasman trek – one of New Zealand’s most popular multi-day treks through rain forest and across golden beaches.
If you’re pressed for time or lazy like me, you can see some of the trek’s highlights without having to walk the whole thing.
You can drive to the famous Split Apple Rock – it’s about 15-20 minutes from Kaiteriteri – and do a shorter walk down to the beach.
Third stop: Nelson
We stayed in Nelson for a night to slowly ease back into civilisation after the days off the grid.
We stayed in the wonderful Ah House BnB – again an attraction in itself.
There are lots of great restaurants and bars around in Nelson. The pub The Vic is an institution.
Travel local – support local
If you are in New Zealand at this point in time – for whatever reason – you should really make the most of having this country to yourself.
Not least because businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry need our support right now.
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