32 days and 3,000 miles later, we returned our camper van! I’m sort of in disbelief that I just lived an entire month in a vehicle. I had doubted my own stamina to endure such a long time living in a van, feeling confident we would have had to get an Airbnb or at least a motel room a few times to break up the month… Nope! I have survived the month long road trip, loyal to the camper van.
After driving past literally thousands of sheep every day, we developed quite an adoration for the fluffy creatures and a yearning to cuddle ’em! Luckily, we stumbled across Smith’s Family Farm in Marlborough Sounds where we camped for the night and finally got up, close and personal with the cuties.
The Marlborough region on the South Island of New Zealand is a major hotspot for wine. In fact, 80% of New Zealand’s total wine production is in the Marlborough area. So, of course we had to go tasting! We (last minute) booked a four to five hour “medium tour” with Marlborough Wine Tours, stopping at a total of five wineries and even a chocolate factory for the finishing touch.
Everyone told us that Abel Tasman National Park was a must-do / must-see in New Zealand, and I strongly agree! This gorgeous and nearly untouched park spans over dozens of bays of golden sand, 140 sq. miles of lush green bush, crystal turquoise ocean water, and a handful of islands with fur seal pups. We chose to explore both land and sea; first kayaking from Marahau to Anchorage Bay (roughly 4 hours) and then bushwalking/hiking back (12km/8mi – 3 hours). My arms feel like Jell-O as I type this up…
Yesterday, I completed a 19.4 kilometer (12 miles), seven hour hike over the Tongariro Alpine Crossing! It’s said to be New Zealand’s best day hike and I can see why. It was 1°C / 33°F (!!!) with strong winds, and it is definitely the most difficult hike I’ve ever done. Alarm clock at 4:30 am, meeting for the shuttle at 5:25 am, and starting walking at the crack of dawn 6:30 am. Alpine Crossing complete at 1:30 pm. Gnarly!