The final stretch of my South Island trip begins. Leaving West Port we headed up towards Abel Tasman looking to find a place to sleep for the night and at a bare minimum a place to shower. We found a campervan site that had showers but had no more available spots over the next week.
The place was Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve and showers were NZD 2. This place is in a great location and directly across the street from Kaiteriteri Beach. Before taking a shower we played some beach cricket. After showering up we looked around for places in the area and could not find a single place to stay for the night. So we decided we would gamble and drive out to Puponga to see arguably the most used background in Windows 10.
Day 1 –Windows 10 Background #2 02.09.2020
The first window 10 background I saw was at Cathedral Cove. I had known that Cathederal Cover was in New Zealand but I had no idea that the other background was here. I happened to see it on someone else’s Instagram two weeks before I made this trip and knew I had to add it in.
Driving route 60 from Kaiteriteri is not for the weak stomach. The road is filled with a lot of turns and steep drops and most turns do not have guard rails. TAKE YOUR TIME, driving this road. Luckily I had Brad drive since at least he was used to driving on the left. There is a great lookout, Hawkes Lookout at the top, and if you want there is a parking lot for freedom camping too. Eventually, the road also becomes an unlevel gravel road, so be sure you have insurance on your rental.
Along the way, we passed another freedom campsite, which I recommend staying there because you at least have cell service. This freedom site is not listed on Campermate, it was just a small parking lot along the coast that had other campervans in it. I still can’t find it on a map, but it does exist. We arrived in Puponga at 20:00 which was just in time to get a great photo at sunset. We checked into Wharariki Holiday Park to see if we could get a place and we were able to, the cost was NZD 20 per person, more on this place later.
The walk to Wharaiki Beach is about 30 minutes once you get through the farmland clearance, it is sand dunes, DO NOT bring your keys with you, someone lost their car keys in the dunes when we were there and then you don’t have cell service, you’re screwed. The beach maybe had 10 people on it. I had always wondered how someone took that photo for Microsoft with no people around, honestly, I thought it was fake and they cropped people out, but it is possible to get the same photo.
We got the famous windows 10 photo and knocked that off my list. We went back to the Holiday Park to find out this place’s wifi is NZD 15 for 2MB and it barely worked, the water needed to be boiled, and the showers didn’t have any hot water and you had to pay for them. It’s a nice place and a great location but stay elsewhere.
Day 2 – Wharariki Beach Day 02.10.2020
When we woke up we decided with the perfect weather and after paying the NZD 20 we should spend the day here at the beach and relax. We had planned to leave here sometime in the evening and then drive halfway back to Abel Tasman and camp at the Hawkes Overlook we saw on the way to Puponga. Before you go before to open up google maps and take a screenshot of your location. Your GPS dot and the shape of the South Islands makes it look like the face of a Kiwi Bird.
Day 3 – Relax 02.11.2020
Today was a full-on relaxation day, we just needed to find a place to stay near Abel Tasman. Brad and I had planned to go canyoning tomorrow so we wanted to be close to the launching site of the canyoning adventure business. After driving around and going to 5 places we finally found a place to stay, Old Macdonald’s Farm. This place was great, had cell service, Wi-Fi, Hot showers, and plenty of washers to do laundry and the cost per person was NZD 20.
Day 4 – Canyoning 02.12.2020
For those that are new to my blog, I love to go canyoning when traveling. I had read online that some of the better canyoning in New Zealand was in Abel Tasman. I had made it a point that I needed to do this on the trip, one last time.
Aditya decided to sit this day out, so Brad and I went with Abel Tasman Canyons. We did the Torrent River Canyon which is filled with jumps, slides, abseils, and swimming. The cost was NZD 289. This was by far my favorite canyoning tour I have done. They are also listed on BookMe if you book far enough in advance you can save some money.
The tour starts out by taking a boat out from Sandy Bay and then makes a few stops along the way to drop off people who are kayaking and doing other adventures. It arrives at Torrent Bay which if you’re in the area has some amazing hiking trails and is a beautiful beach at Anchorage Bay.
Once we arrived at the beach, we hiked up to the top of the Torrent river (1.5 hours), had a sandwich, and jumped in. Unfortunately, this company does not allow people to bring Go-Pros or any camera. They do take some videos for your and photos as part of the fee, but I’d rather use a Go Pro.
The canyoning was a little over three hours and then ended at Cleopatra’s Pool which is filled with tourists. There is a natural water slide here to use. Then it was about a half-hour walk along the beach and during high tide, we even had to swim across.
Since they didn’t allow me to bring a GoPro I didn’t get to upload a cool two-minute video. However, I do have a fifteen-second clip of some videos they took of me jumping and sliding down a waterfall.
I met some people from Minnesota on the tour and after we all went out for drinks at Sprig & Fern Moutueka. From there we had the plan to drive all the way to Picton to camp for the night. We made it to Rai Valley, there was a coffee shop that allowed overnight campervan parking in their car park.
Day 5 – Goodbye South Island 02.13.2020
My last day on the South Island and was only for a few hours. We woke up early and drove to Picton so I could catch the Ferry. Along the way, we tried stopping at several campsites so I could get a shower in before going to Wellington and could not find a place. I finally did find it in Havlock, but the bathrooms were for guests only, and right before I was about to shower I got kicked out by a staff member. On this drive, there are two lookouts, one looking over Mahakipawa Arm and the other Grove Arm.
Once I got to Picton I called a few hostels and eventually, one place let me shower for NZD 5 at Atlantis Backpackers. Picton is a nice city and if you have time check the city out, take some photos before heading out on your Ferry or when you arrive. This was a very surreal moment for me because no less than 13 months ago I was arriving in New Zealand by myself. I had spent that time getting my master’s, working remotely, and traveling to Australia, Fiji, Bali, and New Zealand.
I made a lot of friends it was time to say goodbye. When you leave another country it’s not a see you next time, it’s most likely a goodbye forever. Which is really hard to take in especially after spending two weeks with great friends.
I’m excited about my next adventure and hopefully, I do see the friends I made again. Off to Wellington and the stretch of my last week in New Zealand.
Thanks for reading and liking my post, cheers!