With my sister in from Canada and a month of adventures ahead of us, Luke, Jenn and I loaded up our little Camry and headed out to explore the South Island. We began with a very rough idea of where we were headed, a tent, sleeping bags and Jenn's massive suitcase in the trunk, grabbed a few maps and set out exploring. 

Photo Diary & Highlights Thus Far...

North Island to South Island Ferry from Wellington to Picton
Taking in the beautiful South Island scenery from the 3.5 hour ferry journey
Throughout Jenn's journey, she has come across many interesting ways that her life has been/could be threatened in New Zealand. She has begun to compile a list, cleverly named: "Ways to die in New Zealand". Among the first few are: 
being attacked and run over by a baby bull
3rd degree sunburns from the hole in the ozone layer
falling off a cliff while trying to walk uphill like a sheep
Camping in Nelson
There was a beautiful creek beside our campsite and we spent an entire day basking in sun with our feet in the water!
Jenn has learned that her idea of camping and our idea of camping are just a wee bit different... her main issue, not having protection from the bugs that attack her every night. Her current bug bite count is far too high to share. Way #4 to die in New Zealand: 
excessive bug bites, perhaps contaminating her with Malaria
Caving in Takaka
We make caving helmets look good... right?
Jenn learning about marble stone and sink holes
It was here that Jenn learned that there are Moa (extinct NZ bird) bones found deep beneath the ground floor in dark caves. These Moa's were believed to fall into large holes in the ground, tumbling to their death in the deep, dark caves. Once out of the cave, the many "sink holes" were pointed out to us across the land, each one with the threat of death by falling into it and disappearing forever. Way #5 to die in New Zealand:
Death by falling into a sink hole
Beaching in Kaiteriteri
Having a little jumping photo fun to showcase the beautiful golden sand beaches of Kaiteriteri. This beach was literally across the street from our cabin.
Way #6 to die in New Zealand:
deciding to be brave and do a bungy jump, only to have the rope break and end up in a pit of crocodiles. 
Tramping in Abel Tasman National Park
The tramping in Abel Tasman was just beautiful! A well-groomed trail that can take up to 3-5 days to complete, or a few hours to walk out and walk back. There were hills and valleys and beautiful views of bays like this one.
Jenn showcasing the 3hour50minute walk we had ahead of us... she was in flipflops and Luke was barefoot... needless to say, we did not make it to Anchorage!!
Way #7 to die in New Zealand:
Attempting to do a 3hour50minute hike along the Abel Tasman National Park with no food, no water, sunset fast approaching and wearing only flipflops
Swing Bridging in Buller Gorge
Walking across the massive swing bridge in Buller Gorge - Jenn was surprisingly terrified...Luke and I had fun with that one.
Jenn showcasing the intense chill in the air as we walked through the faultline rupture from an earthquake in 1929. The earth was thrust 4.5 metres into the air along the faultline.
Way #8 & #9 to die in New Zealand:
falling into the river when the swing bridge collapses
getting stuck in the ruptured fault line
... to be continued
The first time I drove our car was on 90 Mile Beach, driving along the sand, watching the ocean tide slowly creeping in towards the shore, no speed limits, just sweet sweet freedom...for a specific amount of time. I lasted all of four minutes behind the wheel. I realized that life as the passenger was much more fun for me... plus it meant I got to take awesome photos!

The second time I drove our car was on the Coromandel Peninsula. It was all of a 2-3km drive, down the big, long, windy Mana driveway, across the main street and parked by the ocean, where I proceeded to have a very enjoyable hour or so long walk with Shanti. The walk was wonderful. The return, not so much. Even though it was the middle of the day, the big, long, windy Mana driveway was covered by trees, making it a bit dark, so of course, I put on my lights....

There are some benefits and some drawbacks to having the same car in New Zealand that I have at home... the drawbacks: Things aren't are automatic with NZ Camry as they are with Canada Camry.

Long story short, Shanti and I ended up having to flag done some very burly men to jump start my car when the battery was dead due to the lights being left on. 

Luke laughed at me when I finally told him what happened.

The third time I drove our car was to a job interview. Even though the shop was about a ten minute walk down the road, it was a stormy, windy, cold, rainy day and well.. I had done my hair. So, off I go, driving myself, down the road. The interview went really well and I was quite happy and excited to tell Luke and my roomies when I got home. So I parked the car outside our flat, made sure to lock the door and skipped my way into the building. 

A little while later I had an urge. An urge for PIZZA! I don't know about you, but when I get the urge for pizza... it's going to happen! I LOVE pizza!! One of my favourite foods by far! Sooo, even though the world seemed against us getting pizza (the website was down, the phone number didn't work right away and our favourite show was about to start) we managed to order, for pickup. The night was still very stormy, windy, cold and rainy, so we automatically went to the car to grab our pickup pizza. We hopped in, mouths watering, anticipation building (mainly because we didn't quite understand the pizza lady on the phone and weren't entirely sure what kind of pizza we should be anticipating...) and...Fail. The car wouldn't start. 

Luke looked at me and we both realized what had happened at the exact same time... the lights. 


So, out of the car we got, into the stormy, windy, cold and rainy night we went, walking, against the wind of course, hair flailing every which way, rain pouring down our faces, Luke yelling at me, me yelling at Luke (all with a hint of laughter as it really was rather entertaining)




etc, etc, etc

Eventually we got our pizza, ate a piece, walked back home in the stormy, windy, cold and rainy night, managed to catch the last few minutes of our show and went back outside to flag someone down to hopefully jump our poor drained Camry. 

"What did we learn..."  

That Deanna is not destined to be a Kiwi Driver.
The sun was shining, the rain had stopped. It was a glorious new morning as Luke and I enjoyed a cup of coffee in Ahipara, the first town bordering 90 Mile Beach. Neither of us felt like eating our cereal for breakfast (not the cereal's fault, although I'm sure that it's pretty stale after two weeks of wwoofing, but I had been too lazy to put our milk in the fridge the night before) but we knew that we had a big day ahead of us. We drove to the teeny tiny petrol station and browsed our options. Final decision: $3 cheapest loaf of bread, $3 tub of peanut butter, a $2 steak and cheese pie(yum), a $1 bag of gummy candies and $50 of petrol (which really gives you next to zero gas due to the massively inflated petrol prices..but.. when in New Zealand...) Breakfast of Champions! As we happily nibbled away at our warm steak and cheese pie at 9:30am, Luke drove us to the drive-on entrance to 90 Mile Beach. We had found this entrance late the night before (late being 6:30pm... it gets dark early) and when Luke saw the tire tracks on the sand, he happily reverted back 10 years! A very giddy young boy, enthused by the prospect of driving on the beach. Now, I was the first one to point out that we had an old Toyota Camry, not exactly Luke's F-150 from home. Nor a Jeep - beep beep. And the sand was quite deep and soft. So, out of the car we go, walking through the sand to determine if we can make it. Being a little city girl who seems to often find herself in the company of non-city kids, I am well-versed in the art of asking probing questions instead of actually adding any useful information to the situation. Example: Luke says, "Pretty sure if we drive in these tracks that have already been made, we'll make it." My response, "Are you suuuuure Luke?" aka, just making him reassure himself that it's a good idea and he actually believes it could work.
Back in the car, seat belts on (safety first!!), decision made, we might as well give it a try! ZOOM - and we're on the beach, driving!! The little Camry really made it onto the beach! Woohoo!! Luke was in HEAVEN, zooming along, steering like a madman, or no steering at all... nothing in front of us but sweet sweet freedom.
Can Camry make it on? I'mmm not sure!
Yup! Sure Can! Just driving in the ocean..NBD
Being that the name of the beach is 90 Mile Beach, and after a brief glance at the map, we decided to drive the whole 90 miles on the beach instead of the highway... clearly much more enjoyable scenery! We were already headed that direction anyway! Life just seemed to fall into place. So along we went, zoom zoom, "woohoo", munch munch on gummy candies, life was good! After about an hour of driving, we figured we should be getting somewhat close to the end of the beach. I was quite happy about this as I had been a very good co-pilot and had paid diligent attention to the continuously closer and closer incoming tide. As it made its way in and began to cover some of the tire tracks we had previously been following, I would comment to Luke, attempting to hide my true scared feelings. I mentioned that we should maybe keep an eye out for a way off the beach, and so we did. But funny thing, there didn't seem to be any... hmmmm