Well, first of all I must admit that I haven’t been on a proper holiday for more than thirteen years, previous to that the family and I would decide on a destination, check what we want to do in that destination, whether we would join a tour company or do it on our own, and just disappear. Those days, you are not carrying your fully loaded mobile phone, your IPad, your laptop and all the other gadgets that make you work 24/7, so literally you can disappear. So if I say that an eco tourism holiday is my ultimate, I mean the ultimate as I would revert to a time pre these gadgets and would most certainly have a great holiday.
This piece is a remembrance of the time we spent in New Zealand and the various places we visited during that time. The bush walks, the river tracks, the 90 miles, and the sand dunes amidst the greenery when my kids went wild as if they were not born in the desert! But when they saw everyone else had brought their boards and were sliding on the sand dunes, they wanted to do the same too.
But the best time was spent in Stewart island. This amazing place is literally a place where time had forgotten itself. The lush environments, the mixed terrain, the chirping of the birds, the mud, and the cliffs, all of this and more is what you will encounter during the hike.
So, let us start right from the beginning, first you would only reach this island that is fully protected by boat or ferry, the sea is rough so Dramamine or any other seasickness tablets are a must have. Your backpack need only have the necessary items, like good pair of boots, or gumboots, a good pair of walking shoes, a couple of jeans, some teeshirts and a jacket or two. Food is essential, there is only one fish and chips shop, one small dairy (grocery shop), and maybe one pharmacy. No cars are to be seen, there could be one police vehicle cum ambulance that is not to be driven except in extreme cases. Of course in terms of hotels, Don’t expect to have a 5 star place. The ones that are there mareore like a cabin or a backpackers place. You cook your own food, or with the group. Night entertainment is limited to reading, playing boardgames or cards, or for those who love nature can look at their photos and write their diaries. forget the TV, and forget anything related to technology.
The journey starts early morning, a visit to the toilette is a must as there will be none on the way, the hike takes the whole day, with one stop on the hour every hour. Make sure to look into every detail of the surrounding, as you can see some birds that you have never seen in hour life, your camera should be the quite one so you do not disturb the habitat. The trees, shrubs, flowers and ferns are a real beauty, the smell of vegetation is great, to me it smelled like freshly cut lawn, I loved it.. Of course because one is pre-occupied you may not notice that your legs are covered with mud and that your face is also smudged from the leaves and branches that could have touched it.
Then you arrive to your stop in the evening, with toilettes that have no flush, and no water unless you found yourself a stream and filled a small bottle just in case, you will be sleeping without a good scrub to your feet and the rest of your body, but that is fine, as everybody else will be in the same shoes. Just hope for a good weather and don’t forget to watch the sunset as it’s a beauty, take as much photographs as possible you will enjoy them afterwards. The drill starts when you get to the cabins, with the people preparing sandwiches or eating canned food or previously prepared dishes. The games start, or the reading, discussions, or the mere sleeping as one would have walked for a good 10 hours and is fully exhausted.
The next morning you walk back but on a different track, you would wonder if you will witness the same of what you saw the previous day? Not really, as every spot in this island is a world by itself. The Lakes and ponds are so clear you can actually fish without a rod, but some did fish with rods and caught some fish too, of course I am not that great in this sort of thing so I preferred to watch and enjoyed the smell of the vegetation and took more photographs. A real strange feeling came over me, if you had seen the movie journey to the centre of the earth, this place is similar to the one the boy and his uncle had witnessed when they slid to the centre of the earth, imaginative and magical.
Another long hike, and the time just evaporated, we were closer to our backpackers hotel; tomorrow we leave but the journey would stay in our minds for ever. To me, this is far better than shopping and sightseeing holidays, I would do it anytime again, surely before I turn 60 and I am sure I will still enjoy every minute of it.