Wednesday, March 22, 2017

House update: finished bathroom!!

At the end of September 2016 we moved into our 1920's house. We were immediately swept into making it feel like our own and the room I wanted done first was the upstairs bathroom. Initially, we only planned a simple makeover; just to put up some wet room panels and a new sink. Boy did that turn into something way bigger than we could have imagined last year.

We tore it all out, walls, floor and all, and hired a company to do it properly. We didn't want to risk messing up the waterproofing part of the bathroom renovation!

In February we hired a contractor, and we were told they would be done in just two weeks. ...Well...it took six. One thing after another, there was always a hiccough. But it's finally done! I'm very happy with the result, but once we finish renovating the last room in the second floor, we are going to wait on doing more big projects til we have saved up money again.

BEFORE



MIDDLE









AFTER!


[Bathtub was tested out on Sunday after my long run *thumbs up*]



The current state of our bedroom...


There and back again - Abel Tasman (day 3) + Greymouth

Day three we woke up not feeling 100%. We had been eaten alive by sandflies, were not too comfy in our tent set up (Marius' legs were sticking out of the end), and we just weren't feelin' it. But it was the last day, the last 10 kms, the last hours in Abel Tasman. We packed up, the sun was shining and it was yet another gorgeous day.

[Packing up on day 3]
This section of the track wove in and out from woods to beach. While walking along one of the beaches early in the day, a group of hikers called us over. We took our packs off and went to see what was up. They had found a colony of fur seals playing in the cove about 100 yards from where we sat. We watched them for about 15 minutes. The pups were playing in the water and one of the adults swam by us to check us out and make sure we weren't dangerous. Such a beautiful way to start the day.



[Difficult to see, but there are fur seals by the rocks]
[Momma coming to check us out]
The last six kms of the track weren't that exciting, just about as nice as the first six. Mainly walking in the woods, pretty normal vegetation and nothing super tropical or typical New Zealand. We came to the top of the "saddle" and could see the Tasman Sea on one side and the Wainui Inlet, our finishing point, on the other. The last bit was all down hill, and we walked across the "finish line" at 12:30PM...exactly 48 hours from when we were dropped off at the other end of the track.

We had done it. And I wanted to do it again.
[Walking down to Wainui Bay]

[The finish! Wish they had a sign with the distance and name of the track like they did at Milford]
We were picked up from our shuttle company by 1PM and taken to Nelson Airport to get our rental car and Divya caught her plane back up to Auckland.

The next day (Thursday March 2), we went on a full-day kayaking trip in Abel Tasman. It was a wedding gift from Marius' sister, Katrine, and we were happy to have one more day in Abel Tasman.

We had a great, knowledgeable guide from Canada who exceeded our expectations. On the first break he made us coffee house-style coffees (mocha, cappuccino, etc) on a camp stove, and at the lunch break our included lunches were delicious sandwiches with plenty of snacks!

[Our Canadian guide, Marty, making cappuccinos]
We paddled past fur seals. I tried to get some video footage, but they aren't very easy to see on the GoPro since we maintained a distance from them to not be intrusive. While on our coffee stop, a little New Zealand south island robin (kakariwai) was curious enough for me to get an ok picture of it. There were some caves that we went into, but they were just little ones, not big enough to turn the kayak around inside them so we had to reverse out.



And to top it all off, we rafted up the four kayaks and sailed to the beach. It was really cool in the beginning, but it took well over half an hour before we got to the beach and there wasn't much of a view when the sail was right in front of me. Still a fun experience though. Thank you, Katrine!! (Video on its way)

That night, Marius and I drove to Greymouth. We got in around 10PM and set up my tent for the first time. Another person staying at the holiday park offered some light from his phone, and we gladly accepted the offer. He said he had lived in New Zealand for 20 years and was a tour guide for Chinese tourists...in all that time he said he had never seen someone put up a tent before and was curious to see how it went. The next morning we woke up to a few Chinese women taking pictures of our tent and us packing it down again...awkward.

Friday, March 17, 2017

There and back again - Abel Tasman (day 2)

[The detailed schedule]
Day two started from Bark Bay and finished at Anapai campsite. We technically only had about 8 hours of walking to do, but due to the tidal schedule, we planned to take a lot of breaks to get to the Awaroa Inlet at low tide (which was not until 5:30PM).

We walked about an hour before our first break to make sure we did not get to the inlet too early before low tide. The sun was already pretty strong and the water was very inviting. It wasn't super warm, but it wasn't too cold either. For lunch we brought pitas and salami, but the pitas we got had already gotten moldy, apparently they were the kind with butter inside them and meant to be baked. When we bought them we were not thinking clearly and did not pay attention to the details, but we just cut off the bad parts and ate a little bit. Luckily we had more than enough snack food, so we didn't starve at all on this hike.

About 1 hour before we were expecting to get to the inlet we walked up on a little cafe that made pizzas and sold beer with a nice picnic area. Marius bought a pizza and we all had a pop because we still had 4 hours til low tide. We were walking too fast, or got out the door way too early for the tidal crossing.

The tidal crossings have windows of opportunity to cross that are up to two hours before and after low tide. At 4PM we got to the inlet and it looked low enough to try to cross, even though low tide wasn't for another 90 minutes. When we got to the middle of the inlet, the water came up to my mid-thigh (I assume up to Divya's butt because she was worried about her pack getting wet). People on the other side were watching us. Marius thought they were laughing at us for crossing where we did, but turned out they were trying to plan how they would cross based on where we went. It took about a half an hour to cross the inlet, and for me that was one of the highlights of the whole hike!

We were pretty worn out on day two, and I think it is mainly because we took so many breaks. Every time we had to start up again it was harder and harder to find the motivation to get the pack on and walk a couple of more hours. The first day we were so pressured to make the first tidal crossing that we kept a good pace that probably helped our posture with the packs. Divya started cramping up and was getting pretty worn out, so Marius had offered to take her pack for a little while. He was tough! He carried one pack on his back and the other on his stomach, approximately 25 kilos in total, for probably 10 kilometers!

A few hours later we strolled into our campsite at Anapai Bay. It was pretty primitive compared to the areas that also had huts, but I loved it. The water tap had a sign that read "Water should be treated or boiled for at least 3 minutes". We did not have enough fuel to boil enough water for all three of us, but having had taken a chance with the water the day before at Torrent Bay, I decided to risk it. It was fine and I didn't get a stomach bug or anything, but I learned that we definitely need to have a water filter in our stash of hiking gear.

Divya had borrowed a three-man tent from a friend, which turned out to not really be that great of a tent. It was more of a shell and there were plenty of openings for the sandflies to get in and eat us alive in our sleep. In addition to the feast the sandflies were having on our legs, the wekas (native, flightless birds) were battling it out with each other right outside the tent and screeching loudly in the middle of the night right by our heads. The stargazing, however, was just amazing. The total darkness and clear sky made it easy to see way more stars than I think I have ever seen in my life.

[Breakfast at Bark Bay Hut]

[Weka - an endemic bird of New Zealand; very curious and common in Abel Tasman]

[No filters here - just great colors of Abel Tasman]

[We took a break on this beach for lunch and a swim]



[Awaroa Inlet]

[The nicer part of the inlet before it got deep]

[Set up the hammock at Anapai campsite - perfect for stargazing]

[Our camp setup at Anapai]

[Anapai campsite panorama]

Act for Arctic