Current Location: Te Anau, NZ
In Fiordland. Milford Sound. Doubtful Sound. 
Glaciers and snow and waterfalls and avalanches. 
I am tired. In a good way. 

Back to days past:

Winging it.
These days, the first thing we do in a new town is find the I-Site.  From I-Site Picton, I left with a map of I-Sites around the country and a walking map of the city. I am the map-keeper.
Denise is all like, whatever.
So I'm all like, this way.

We climb over a perfectly arched pedestrian bridge towards Upper Bob's Way. I no longer trust the estimated time/distance/difficulty for any walk. We were told 3hr return.  Does that account for torrential rain?

Greens are bisected by blues as the trail negotiates forest and ocean views.  The grey lifts and settles; I take off and put on layers.

We meet up with Snout Track leading us further out onto the peninsula. After a long climb, we pause under a few trees, put our rain gear back on, and have a snack. I have been eating a lot of almonds on this trip.

For a country that is all about being EXTREME, that I can't find a vegan protein/energy/candy bar is puzzling to me. Even non-vegan bars are a rare find. It's all about granola and muesli bars.  For example: before you throw yourself off a bridge, you can get amped up with a bright red power drink. Afterwards, when you get hungry from being EXTREME,  you can have a granola bar. Wimpy. Clif Bar Co., where are you?

As usual, the hike is much longer than expected. We finally hit the top of a hill, marking a break in the track, and stop to take photos. Jumping off the bench and pretending to soar through the air -- it's fun to take pictures.

I hear giggles and turn around to see two girls approaching on the trail. Oh! It's Nele and Xena, our blonde German friends from Waitomo.  Strrrrange. 

With all the seeds that have been planted I can grow a forest. The more I hear about people's travels, the more I want that too. Kid in an Oceanic candy shop.

The hike goes on for about five hours. On our walk back, we see a full rainbow over the valley.  I always jump up and down with excitement when I see a rainbow. I can't help myself.

We take Lower Bob's Way on the return, bringing us down to the water. The shoreline is littered with pink, purple, and blue shells. I pick up every single sparkling one but have to stop myself from selfishly eroding the entire coast.

The sun is out.
There's a bench.
I sit.
There's a seal!

We walk to the grocery store and get some things for a proper dinner. Veggies!
Sorry. I think they value fish more than vegetables in this town 'cause, eh. I admit it though, I am a fruit and vegetable snob.

After we cook a dinner to make all the other guests jealous, we open our map and start talking about the rest of the trip. 
I get sidetracked talking to Anna from Wisconsin who has been traveling by herself for months and is heading south to bike the island. Crazy! Cool!
Then I get sidetracked eating chocolate. We put the map away.

In my normal life, I suck at sleeping. In my New Zealand life, I also suck at sleeping.

We get ready to leave Picton but have no destination.
Potential itinerary 1: rent car, drive towards Abel Tasman.
Potential itinerary 2: take the Tranzcoastal train south.

It's a sunny morning. As we walk down the hill into town, I'm feeling like it's a train kind of day.
Denise agrees.
We purchase a ticket to Kiakoura and then to Christchurch. The I-Site lady helps us find a place to stay and makes arrangements for us to pick up a campervan in Christchurch (hindsight: bad idea).  Their computers are running slow. Seriously. I've got a train to catch!

After bringing our bags to the luggage car, we line up to board the train.
An old woman is yelling at the train dude, accusing him of using "salty" language.
The train dude says he wasn't talking to her.
It's still "inappropriate," she says.
He told her to mind her own business ... blah blah blah ... Then he called her a 'stodgy old bitch' or something like that.

I am learning that the cold cold wind sucks bad but I refuse to let it interfere with my trip. Of course, there are limits to that. Hail storms, avalanches -- that kind of thing. But standing in the open air viewing car was beautiful fun.

The hostel in Kiakoura is fine. But the scenery! Holy mother of mountains, this is awesome! Snow capped mountains are practically sitting in the Pacific Ocean. It's completely captivating.

At night, we walk down to the beach. There is an enormous halo around the moon -- it takes up almost the entire sky. I am in a science fiction movie and I just woke up on a planet far far away.