new zealand: travelling south 2/2



September 20, 2016 continued...

Danny and I leave Tongario Park in the early afternoon and resume our expedition south. The land turns green again and there are sheep everywhere. I'm uneasy and wishing for the end of the roadtrip. But I'm here so here goes.

There are still a few shiny moments. As we drive along the tops of hillsides nestled in acres of grazing lands, there is this sense of abundance and liveliness entering my mind for the first time in what feels like a long while. Everything seems so immense and I feel so present in it all. The past year in Canada is so intangible and fake compared to the twisting road that I am on, curled in the seat of a BMW with my music in my ears and my eyes lavished by the sights. I think, it feels like I have just started breathing again. Like I finally just took a breath. I have been waiting to come here. I was waiting and waiting for this.

On our way to Whanganui, we drive by the remains of a Maori settlement called a pā. Danny parks the car on the side of the road and we hop over a fence into a field with a few cows and many more sheep. The grass goes up to my knee-caps and we try to navigate the hillside using the animal paths and slanted trees. The view from the top is stunning.

We spend the afternoon in Whanganui so I can buy vegetables and Danny can buy car insurance and beer. After the sun has set, we drive in circles for hours looking for somewhere to freedom camp. I'm used to parking in suburbs and sleeping in the backseat of my car so I'm really not picky but Danny is worried about getting caught or the sound of traffic or something. He chooses a strip of grass between a small river and a fenced field just off the highway. I decide to sleep in the car and Danny, who has been drinking Coronas for the past hour while driving, inflates his mattress on the grass outside.

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September 21, 2016

I am so wrapped up in this blanket and wearing all the clothes that I could pull onto my body. But I'm not cold.

Danny wakes not long after me and we're off again. He announces (proudly) that he's discovered to the secret to staying warm at night: put a blanket underneath your body and not just over it.

This is Day 3. Danny is determined to find a shower today and manages to convince a holiday park to give him access to theirs. He's surprised when I don't shower and asks if, "I'm some sort of hippie or something." I laugh. Maybe.

The holiday park is near Waikanae Beach about an hour north of Wellington. We walk through patches of semi-flooded woods to follow the water flowing into the ocean. It's 10 in the morning and fishermen are setting up their traps in the inlet to catch whitebait fish. Danny throws some facts my way (which I can no longer remember) and chats with some of the locals as they are waiting and wading in the water. Everyone speaks so casually with one another. It's like they're all friends. Canadians seem very closed off all of a sudden. We spend some time on the beach just watching everything. Danny tells me about this substance called ambergris that is formed by sperm whales, sometimes washes up on shore, and is incredibly valuable if you find any. He picks up strange looking objects from the sand and examines them.

On the way to Wellington, Danny asks me if I want to sneak onto the ferry by hopping in the boot of the car. I say yes immediately.

It's a hilarious situation. I'm in the boot, lying on a blanket, our extra possessions stuffed to my right, giggling at the absurdity of it. Once Danny pushes the back seat into its standard position, I'm in complete darkness and sending goofy texts to my friends. Guess where I am??

Someone once told me that all we can really ask for in the end is to have lived interesting lives. I'm trying—I'm trying.

I manage to remove myself from the boot without anyone noticing and spend the next 2.5 hours on a massive boat crossing Cook Strait from Wellington to Picton. I don't think I've ever spent so long on a boat. It's a bumpy ride. Young teenagers are staggering around pretending to be drunk. I giggle as I stumble into walls and take photographs of the islands passing us by.

We depart the ferry and enter Picton with me sitting in the front and not squished in the boot. Danny drops me and my bags off in front of a hostel that he recommends despite my meek suggestions that there's somewhere else that sounds nice and cheaper. When he drives away, I walk across the tiny town to a place called Sequoia Lodge. I booked a bed there while we were waiting for the ferry in Wellington. I'm tired with no idea what will happen next.




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