Sunday, March 26, 2017

NZ/Aus Days 7-8: Marlborough Sound

With a long drive ahead of us, we rose at 5:30 with Baby and started our day. Our first time packing up the car with all of our stuff + groceries proved successful so by 7:30 am, we were off! We fueled up Alexandra (we tried to think of a the name with the most vowels for our beloved car so we could practice our terrible New Zealand accents!), and hit the highway. Our route would take us through the mountains in the middle of the south island and up to its northern tip. We would have followed the coast and gone to Kaikoura but the road is still washed out after the recent earthquake.

Just one angle of our great deck view
For the most part, the drive went smoothly.  We stopped twice for Baby to eat, once on the side of the road and once at a cemetery, then a third time to stretch and get groceries. But mostly the day was spent watching the land change from coastline to forest to lush hills to valleys to vineyards and finally, to the beautiful region of Marlborough Sound. As we entered Picton, the hills opened to reveal a thin bay with many inlets and coves. We navigated to our Air BnB and settled in to eat dinner overlooking the spectacular scenery.

For our first full day in the area we chose a short 30 minute "walk" to a viewpoint of the sound. This was our first encounter with "walking" trails in New Zealand so we quickly learned that although trails seem well-signed with locations and time frames, they are missing some key information such as distances and elevation gains. We debated wearing flip flops but thankfully opted for hiking shoes at the last minute. We strapped Baby in the carrier (crying ensued...) and were off!

We walked first along a wide path framed by thorny bushes that warned, "stay on the path!" with their prickly pointers. After about 10 minutes, we reached the official trailhead that read 30 minutes. technically it's a 40 minute walk then, right? No big deal for us avid hikers from the Rockies, except that Erin is still recovering from her c-section so 30 minutes would already be her new recent record for walking. Deciding to forge onwards and turn back at the first glimmer of pain, we continued upwards. Sadly the trail was still banked with trees so we knew we had great views to the left but seldom got a peek of them.

Very proud of our first hike
with baby OUTSIDE the belly!

At the 40 minute mark, we crested a hill and a panorama of water and land stretched in front of us. We tossed Baby on our handy dandy Monkey Mat and enjoyed a well-deserved snack. Our down-day and "walk" had quickly become the most physical activity either of us had done since Baby's birth. It was great to feel those aching muscles again, to taste the fresh air, and to see the amazing sights that Mother Nature has to offer.

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