Where has Mags been?
Down here in New Zealand, the Christmas and New Year break is a summer getaway for us. While the rest of the world which wraps itself in a cotton wool blanket of cinnamon and eggnog, we celebrate our Christmas and New Years with barbeques, sunshine, and beaches.
Most of the country's commerce shuts down for three weeks which gives us a good break over the summer period to come back fresh for a New Year at work. Such a long break means we can get away from home for a while. We usually spend some time up with both our families in Auckland, but with a friend's wedding in Nelson early in the New Year, we decided to escape down to the Abel Tasman for four days' hiking.
We kiwis are known for our outdoorsy attitude. And our country reflects that. Dotted around the country we have beautiful national parks, not least of all the Abel Tasman. Here, pristine golden sand beaches trim the native bush and rolling ridges. And built for adventure tourism, it is packed full of camp sites, walking tracks, swimming holes and picnic spots.
Over four days we walked 60km. Putting aside the occasional early morning tidal crossing, this left plenty of time for sleeping in, lunchtime swims, and sunset beers on the beach. The added bonus of water taxi bag transfers meant we didn't need to carry our luggage, and just walked with a day pack each. Some might call that cheating. As we unpacked our large tent, airbed, and extra cooker, and cracked open a beer as the trampers we'd passed on the track limped into camp, we called it genius.
Each night we feasted on burritos, daal, and chilli, turmeric lattes and hot tea. I even dabbled with dehydrating my own cashew sour cream and hummus, with pretty good results, considering I don't own a dehydrator! I just used the oven on a very low setting. While the dehydration process did take a lot longer than expected, we ended up with some amazing meals on the trail.
It is safe to say that most of the country has had a pretty miserable summer so far. We were pretty lucky with our four days camping - we only had one day of rain and, while it was pretty cold tramping a half day in the pouring rain, it cleared up just in time for us to set up camp at the other end. Which meant no wet sleeping bags. Bonus! Wet feet and beachside camping did mean we got sand everywhere. But that we could handle for a night.
Reminded again how special it is we live in a country with this magic on our doorstep, we headed home. But we will be back. Next year. Matt has declared it. And so it must be.
Happy New Year everyone. I hope the magic continues.