Wwoofing in Motueka, Nelson a kayaking in Abel Tasman

Pure madness.



6/30/20234 min read

It's supposed to rain all next week. Fine. We are deciding what to do and it occurs to us that we could once again volunteer somewhere. It's called wwoofing. I found one option a short distance from the town of Motueka, and we went there the next day. Well, right outside the gate, we were bit shocked. Any thing you can think of was in that garden.

In piles, overgrown with grass, under a tarp, and it was no different in the house. Bicycles, lawn mowers, wooden things of different shapes, flower pots, tins, garden wheels, barrels, glasshouses, window frames… and even a boat! A big ship. Painted white and with lots of solar panels on the roof. Plus inhabited by some local artist. The entire area of the garden resembled a landfill. It's probably impossible to describe it otherwise. But both owners were nice people and especially Mike, who would do the first thing last for us and I never saw him with anything but a smile the whole time.

We even found one Czech guy in the kitchen. He was almost invisible among all the junk. His name is Tomas and he managed an incredible five weeks here. We'll be happy if we disappear by the end of the week and a regiment of mice doesn't get into our car in the meantime. Phew. Well, it was a powerful experience.

To cheer ourselves up a bit, we went to visit friends in Nelson at the end of the week, who found a house to live in while we were freezing on the kayak. Maggie and Ondra wanted to celebrate birthday properly, so we met up with another couple from France/Tahiti at their place. Guillome played the guitar beautifully and Lea sang along with it at times. It was a really pleasant evening. We didn't even want to get up in the morning. I can't even remember the last time I was up until three in the morning.

Ondra and Maggie went to the city to look for work the next day and we set out to try paddling the Abel Tasman National Park by sea. It's very late in the season, so we hope there won't be too big waves. I'll get ahead of the story a bit. They were.

We reached the village of Tata beach, where again and again we had to pack everything into waterproof bags and into the boat. (Hint to our future selves. Take your empty boat to the water first and put things in it. It's a lot lighter then...)

When everything was ready, we were ready to go. The water was calm and there was only a little wind. But as soon as we left the bay and rounded the first headland, the waves rose considerably and grew every moment. Behind the next cape, they were swinging so much that even my stomach started to protest.

We did not go around the most critical place around Separation point. According to John, it only rocked a little, according to me the waves were at least five meters tall. But the worst part was riding the waves back to the coast. If you see them and therefore drive perpendicular to them, you can at least prepare for each one. But how it went from behind and every time unexpectedly… well. Fortunately, I didn't feed the fish.

The Abel Tasman National Park is very popular, so the campsites are set up a short distance from each other. This saved us a little, because by the time we got to the shore, the sun had gone below the horizon and it was getting cold very quickly. Actually, this is our classic scenario. In a flash, we pulled out the boat and scrambled to set up the tent and boil water for tea.

In the morning the waves weren't any smaller, so we headed back to the car. John sad, me with a stomach afloat just like yesterday. After arriving, however, John did not want to just give up, so he came up with a new plan. We'll drive a bit lower along the coast and see how it looks there. After all, I'm not going to let those two more paid nights go to waste.

But the ocean there looked exactly the same, if I may be brief. Another day, another attempt to get somewhere. Waves and finally a pleasant stop in the bay, where the water hardly moved. And in addition, a great place to have lunch on the veranda of the cottage, where the sun was blazing hot. It was a very nice change after the last few frozen days. We explored the bay all the way to the mouth of the river and I finally managed to take a picture of the local sacred kingfisher!

He wouldn't be John if he didn't find some crazy adventure, so he set off through the swamp to find the remains of a local school and a steam locomotive. He found it, but he didn't make it through the jungle to the school.

The journey back was characterized by wind and waves, and getting off at the jetty where we left the car was a bit of a release for me. I don't like water very much, but I didn't expect that the waves would be such a problem for me. After the winter, hopefully the weather will be better for kayaking and we will do the whole Tasman at once.

I don't have many photos from this adventure, so I'm adding at the end a cheeky weka feasting on our dinner and the sunrise at the shipwreck in Motueka.