We were picked up at the Picton “Fairy” terminal after a remarkably smooth crossing to the South Island, by our new driver ‘HP’ and a very full bus of passengers. It was quite a long drive to our first overnight stop at a tiny village on the edge of the Able Tasman National Park, Mahakau. Able Tasman was a Dutch Explorer who came down this way shortly before Captain Cook. The reason however that Cook was remembered for doing all the exploring and discovering was that Tasman set foot on land once, met the local Maoris and several of his crew were invited to dinner with them. As the main course.
On our way to Mahakau we did a spot of very sophisticated wine tasting at a vineyard called Boudevines. I have never really thought of my name as wine related before! The choice of activities for the next day were skydiving [been there, done that!], one of several whole day or half day sailing or kayak tours, some long walks through the NP, or my personal choice: hang-gliding. Oh yeah.
Me and another lady Anne were dropped off to arrange it, but when we got there the set up was three people in a shed and we were the first people to come along all day. Did we just want to do it there and then!? Why not!?
After Anne went first, I was put in the big zip-up sock thing attached to the glider and the instructor. Most hang gliders just jump off cliff usually but this one was tied to the back of a mini aeroplane, and we took off behind it. We rose to 2500 feet and then detached from the plane, and glided down in circles admiring the view of all the apple and kiwi trees, all the grapevines and of course the mountains. It was a little cloudy but still completely awesome.
The next day I hadn’t arranged anything as I was expecting to be hang-gliding, so I had a nice chilled day mooching around the campsite, and went for a walk a little way into the NP and back around Marahau. Next stop the imaginatively named Greymouth, at the mouth of the Grey River – via Barrytown, aka Baz Vegas. Hilarious considering Barry consisted of 2 houses and a closed shop!
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