Instead of mosquitos, New Zealand has these tiny, horrid little sandflies that deliver vicious bites which swell into itchy, pea-sized welts. They enjoy hanging around in grass, trees, shady areas, sunny beaches, inside cars, outside of cars and, for some reason, on us especially. There are too many little welts on my legs to count.
Monday was Wairingi day, the actual treaty-signing holiday. We started off near Abel Tasman National Park and found a great picnic area under the trees next to a river with surprisingly few sandflies. Our destination for the day was Westport, a small town on the rainy west coast about four hours from Nelson. The sunny morning quickly gave way to a cloudy, misty afternoon.
An hour out of Westport we picked up a hitchhiker named Jon-Luigi. Since we’re American, “just Jon is fine.” He was headed toward Karamea to walk the Hepte track, a six-day hike across the roadless, northwestern edge of the North Island. It sounds like a longer, more accessible version of the Kalalau hike on Kauai. When we finally reached Westport, rain was falling in warm, heavy sheets. A hostel was definitely in order and we snagged the caravan at Trip Inn on Queen Street.
Yes, I said caravan. It was white with a giant pink stripe through the middle, situated in the backyard next to a few strategically placed plastic flamingos. Very Florida, you would have loved it, Anneli. With access to a kitchen, dining room, showers, several house pets and two full gigabytes of wifi data, we were in heaven. The rain never stopped, but we remained warm, cozy and intoxicated for the remainder of the evening.