The adventure part of the trip! My sisters, their husbands, my 12-year-old niece and I flew to the South Island to tackle the five-day, 54-km Abel Tasman Track. This is one of the better known hikes in New Zealand–you walk along some of the most beautiful coastline and beaches in the country. Like several of the Great Walks in New Zealand, it features huts to sleep in and flush toilets! All we had to carry was our sleeping bags, clothes and food. In other words, about 40 pounds each. Ouch!
The walk itself is beautiful but marred slightly by the shocking amount of tourists on the trail. Water taxis bring day guests into the park, and we would pass these tourists with their enviably small backpacks as we trudged across the soft-sanded beaches and wide paths. It wasn’t until the fourth and fifth day of the hike that we escaped the crowds and were treated to deserted beaches and silent bush. I think that we would all agree that these were the best days of the hike — even though the fourth day was a monster 17 km that kicked our butts!
My niece Nicole was excited to see that we would be sleeping in bunks in the hut. On the second night, we experience Marae-style (Maori) bunks for the first time. Basically, there was a wide platform where seven people slept side-by-side with another seven-person bunk on top. She declared it the best night of her life (when else do you get to sleep next to your parents, two aunts and two uncles) until she realized how many adults snore, including several members of our family. You have to pull out all of your sleeping tricks in this situation — ear plugs, eye masks, chemical intervention! We envied the campers in their bunk-free tents until there was a torrential downpour on the last night.
All in all, this was a lovely adventure. The pain of carrying the packs, the sandfly bites, the snoring uncles, and the blisters never outshone the beautiful scenery, the loveliness of being outside and laughing together so much. This was our first hike together as families, and there will be more!
Big shout out to Grandpa and Grandma for looking after the four boys so this adventure could happen!