Kia Ora!  We’re a tad behind on our posts, but we’re working to catch up!  In the meantime, a very belated Merry Christmas to all of you!

Christmas Day abroad was a strange experience for both of us.  Her and I have spent every Christmas of our lives with at least one of our families, but this year we spent it on our own.  We were in an incredible place surrounded by spectacular things and wonderful vistas, but we still both wished we could teleport home for the day and then teleport back in the evening stuffed from Christmas dinner to continue our journey.  Since this wasn’t possible, we had to suffice the only way we knew how: hiking!

Abel Tasman National Park has several incredible, multi-day tracks.  The most notable is The Coast Track, a 3-5 day hike which covers almost 55 kilometers of pristine beaches and coastal cliffs, one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” in the same category as the Milford

A quiet beach

A quiet beach

Track leading to Milford Sound.  To walk the entire route takes several days, but it is still possible to hike along it for the day for free.  There are also water taxis that will drop you off on a beach far away from the car park and you can walk back so you don’t need to cover the same route twice.  Unfortunately, we didn’t think of the water taxi trick and ended up just doing a there-and-back, round-trip hike that lasted about 5 hours including a short break for lunch and a quick dip in the cold water at Coquille Bay.  We made it all the way from the Marahau car park to just north of Apple Tree Bay, but a determined hiker who didn’t make any unnecessary stops could probably hike to the Anchorage Hut and back in a very full day of hiking.

On the way back we met another American, a girl from Michigan who had spent the last year working in Sydney for a marketing firm.  She wasn’t able to get home for Christmas either because of another planned trip to the states in 2013, so she decided to spend a short holiday on the South Island of New Zealand.  She was very friendly and we joked about just how expensive Sydney was — she concurred.  We also swapped traveling stories and discussed how we all wanted to get to Nepal to do some serious hiking.  She was jealous that we were getting to do that on this trip, but we were jealous that she was getting to live abroad for such an extended period!  It’s funny how the grass always seems greener on the other side.

After finally making it back to our lodge, we celebrated Christmas properly with a very filling dinner of salad, grilled boniato (white sweet potato), and grilled steaks.  We topped it off with a couple miniature pies we purchased at the grocery store and a bottle of good New Zealand wine.  Full, tipsy, and happy we crashed for the night.