Another long bus ride from Queenstown to Franz Josef glacier. This time I took an Intercity bus together with my new german friend that had decided to have a look at the glaciers before he’d start his tramping days.
The thing that I’ve learned while in New Zealand that most of the people travel either with camper vans or in a hop on hop off sort of bus (such as Kiwi Experience and Stray). I didn’t take any of those, since I didn’t have anyone to share a camper van with and I didn´t like the idea of being stuck in a bus schedule with a bunch of young party people. So I decided to do it on the local way… and that’s when I found Intercity and Naked Bus, they’re cheap, safe and very easy to book. Sometimes I did get some random drunk people by my side (nothing that a headphone or a book would keep them quiet :P) and sometimes I’ve had interesting and pleasant chats.
The city Franz Josef is very tiny and it was also very cold. On the track to the glacier, I didn´t get to step on the ice because of the weather conditions, but I got the closest I could get without paying a huge amount of money for guided tour. It was nice, but it didn’t impress me too much when I compared it with the Perito Moreno glacier in Patagonia.
A few blocks from the hostel there was the starting point of the Terrace Walk Track,which leads into the woods and during the night-time you’re able to see the GLOWWORMS!!. This was one of the things I was so curious about seeing in New Zealand and when I finally got to see it I was so happy that I couldn’t stop jumping around. At night, a group of people from the hostel got some flashlights to do the track. It´s a bit scary to walk in the woods when it’s so dark, but it gets fun once you reach certain point where everyone shut down the lights and wait until the eyes get adjusted to the darkness. Then, you start seeing things glowing everywhere… it was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen… Amazing! :)
On the next day I took a ride with some girls to have a look at the Fox glacier, they also drove me up to the Pancacke Rocks in Punakaiki. I only spent one night there and I didn’t get to see the rocks… I was feeling a bit depressed and didn’t get very interested on them. On the next morning I took a bus to Nelson, a small town up north of the South Island.
Nelson was a quiet town on the eastern shore of Tasman Bay. The city center is so small, you can walk or ride a bicycle everywhere and has such a cozy atmosphere.
I was feeling so introspective lately and it took me 2 days to talk with people at the hostel and during those first two days I went on a day trip to the Abel Tasman National Park. The bus takes you to the park and you have a few options of track or kayaking tours. I was dropped off by boat at Torrent bay and hiked all the way north to Onetahuti Beach, were the water taxi was supposed to pick me up in the end of the day.
I decided to do this track alone, I had a lot in my mind that I had to go through and I wanted to feel the freedom of being alone, walking at my own pace. It was the best decision ever! I walked for about 6 hours, with quick stops for lunch, snacks and to appreciate the view. The coastal track is beautiful, lots of up and down hills and beautiful beaches, just don’t forget to take some repellent, the sandflies are everywhere! On the way, I’ve met some people tramping who gave me good tips of hidden places to see. The hours went by very quickly and on the end of the day the water tax picked me up, drove around the Tonga Island Marine Reserve, and then back to the bus stop.
Back in Nelson, I felt very refreshed and ended the day with good wine and good conversation! Ready to make my way up north… I took a bus to Picton, where I spent a few hours before the ferry left to the North Island!