Sunburnt, Barefoot, and Cradling a Six-pack

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Only in New Zealand do I ever end up fitting the description in this title. Yes, this is how we found ourselves at the end of my latest travel excursion: a stumbling tomato-red UV-destroyed lump just hoping to clutch together the disintegrating cardboard holding a 6 pack of Coronas for one more block back to the hostel. NZ, you turn me into a such a millenial vagabond.

Okay, let’s rewind: this slow descent into greasy hippie disaster began with my hiking trip into the Abel Tasman region three days yon. (Can I say that? I want to say it.) Three days ago. After two days’ preparation, because hiking by yourself is a total bummer when it comes to time spent planning, I attached a small porpoise to my back, took a squinty pre-departure selfie, and headed off down the Abel Tasman coast track on the South Island of New Zealand.

I started at the south end of the track at Marahau and wandered my way north for 3 days, getting picked up by a water taxi at Awaroa Beach. I think the photos can speak for themselves to show how lovely this experience was:





Golden sandy beaches, clear water, lush forest and refreshing sea breezes! I don’t want to wax poetic for too long about the hike because I can’t help but feel guilty when I think about the situation my Canadian friends find themselves in this week…


I mean, I’m sorry.

Now, we shall document my 3-day descent into Grease Town:

DAY 1: Marahau to Anchorage Bay. Initially flummoxed as to where the track actually began, taking a short tour through an annexed 10-minute interpretive walk before finding the trailhead. Glanced around fervently to ensure error went unnoticed, probably making error evident. Once on coastal track, taken aback by its magnificence. Photos aplenty. Pack feeling fine, body feeling strong, I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR.

Hubris swiftly led me to treacherous downfall. Felt 4-hour leg too easy, tiny, for strong badass woman with porpoise backpack. Took every possible side-excursion to visit every single beach along the way, involving multiple steep descents/ascents from main track down to beaches. By final ascent back onto main track, cursing self and inflated sense of ego. Hip stabilizers very displeased. Made camp at Anchorage Bay. After laying tent on ground and having done essentially nothing yet to advertise skill/lack of skill, asked by ~40 yr old Tough Man if I needed help. No Tough Man, that is alright. Perhaps Tough Man can climb tree or do other Skilled Outdoorsman Activity to show expertise?


Happy with Cute Small Tent Camp. Asked where my boyfriend is by park ranger checking for camping permits. No park ranger, that is alright. Perhaps Woman can camp alone?

Relaxing night spent reading on the beach and using camp stove for first time. Made fire! Slightly scared of newfound power using flammable gas. Large group of children nearby. Unrelated facts. Looking forward to sleep-in and chill day tomorrow, shortest leg of hike and no deadlines to meet!

DAY 2: Anchorage Bay to Bark Bay. HIP STABILIZERS EXTREMELY DISPLEASED! Misinterpreted information from park ranger regarding tide tables. Kiwi sense of humour often misleading to vulnerable Canadians. Cannot tell you how many times have been trolled by kiwi sarcasm, should know better by now. Details of story irrelevant as make me look like total doormat. End result was rather steep 2 hour detour. “Chill day” ends up being most physically intense day of trip. Sweat and grease levels increase steeply, but enjoyed beautiful swim and beachside relaxation at Bark Bay (suspect that the Great Reddening of my skin began at this point). Briefly got obsessed with taking photos of fern foliage.



Kept on seeing same Eastern European couple (best guess given complete lack of recognition of accent/language) everywhere I turned. Felt like I was stalking them. Perhaps…was?

Had very enjoyable conversation with Polish woman at Bark Bay hut and enjoyed warmth of shelter compared to chilly tent. Enjoyed also comparison of Hut Hikers to Campsite Hikers. Hut Hikers = prepared in event of unprecedented hurricane conditions. Campsite Hikers = probably wearing flip-flops.

DAY 3: Bark Bay to Awaroa Beach. Eastern European couple passed by hut as I was eating breakfast. Yup, hi guys. Hip stabilizers happy as clams, shoulders and chest began complaints: “the straaaaaaps hurt, I’m tiiiiiiiired” SHH KIDS we’ll get there when we get there!

Enjoyed overcast morning as was getting tired of heat. Hiking in shade much preferable. Many say my hate of heat is Canadian thing, but really body has unfavourable surface area to volume ratio, holds onto heat extremely well, core temperature goes up fast. It’s science ok.

Thought would hike for 4.5hrs and pick up water taxi at 3pm, but encountered sign for “Awaroa Boat Pick-Up” 1.5hrs early. Oh. Reached water taxi pick-up point at 12pm. Sun came out in earnest. No shade to be found. Porpoise-pack so heavy…put down…lie down…nestled in nook under walkway…UV rays, take me to bed…


Oops. Rustled myself to consciousness. Eastern European couple seated in front of walkway. Had to emerge from behind them like voyeuristic bridge troll. Hopped on water taxi back to Marahau. (Purposely took the next one after EE couple. Hope they feel safe in beds tonight.) Stinging feeling all over body like cuddling with jellyfishes. Sun, you gave me life but then you also gave me this. Experienced mixed feelings about being part of solar system.

Stumbled from water taxi drop-off into car. Bee-lined for nearest McDonald’s with precisely zero shame. Scarfed meal whilst on the road towards hostel, ruminating on the advantages of civilized life and capitalism. Upon arrival in Nelson, immediately immersed myself in a MARVELLOUS shower, slipped on flip-flops and headed off to find some after-sun cream for my tomato-y skin. 7pm, things should be open, yeah? Flopped off towards the city centre.

Oh no wait. It’s New Zealand. Everything is closed besides the grocery store. Well, I will flop on a little further to the New World then, I thought!


Hm. Flippie-floppies are rather abrasive on intensely burned skin. Oh, I’ve got blisters from hiking too. Ouchie.


I’m really gonna need a beer.


God I look like such a hippie.

Enjoyed this blog post? Check out my travel blog from the last time I was in New Zealand here!

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I am a wildlife biologist from Alberta, Canada who has also been called a science gardener, a wilderdude, really short, and a rodent discovery technician. Apart from frolicking with animals for science, I have a problem with liking too many other things including writing, photography, and art.

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