On December 24th we made our way to the South Island and to Nelson, a city on the shores of Tasman Bay and the second-oldest settled city in New Zealand. Oddly enough, it has been warmer on the South Island than it ever was for us on the North Island. Yes sir, the South Island has been treating us well indeed. In Nelson we discovered the workshop of the makers of the One Ring (you know which one I’m talking about). Jens Hansen’s tiny, hole-in-the-wall store created the One Ring in multiple sizes for The Lord of the Rings and also crafted the other rings of power. On display you can see the One Ring original prototype and the rings worn by Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, and Viggo Mortensen. I felt like I was in the presence of sacred relics (relics that could be purchased for thousands of dollars).
We befriended Benjamin Black who, aside from having the coolest name ever, makes the rings for The Hobbit. He let us play with the various ring incarnations, including the 8 inch, gold-plated steel ring that was used in the opening credit shot of the movie.
My mum says I need to get married stat so that she can buy a wedding ring from the ringmakers. Solid plan.
The next day – Christmas Day – was spent hiking in Abel Tasman. It was sunny, we were sweaty, and we greeted passing hikers with “Merry Christmas”- it was all very odd. It was an unusual Christmas, but also a wonderful one.
My family took a boat out to a beach and then hiked six miles through the woods and across bridges to Anchorage beach where we picked back up by the boat. On the boat ride, we saw this snazzy rock formation
Now, maybe I’ve just been in wintry, 50-shades-of-gray Washington for too long, but I’m convinced that colors here are unusually rich and vibrant. The lush forests, azure sea, and golden sand are straight out of a fairy tale.
On the hike I met a lovely German backpacker named Manu. She’d traveled around Australia and was headed to the US after New Zealand. She is one of those people whom I call a “wanderer” – a nomadic soul who travels to new places with no plan other than to experience life. I will go a’wandering some day… but probably not by myself; I’m not sure I’m that courageous.
On our destination beach, I threw myself into the white and floury cocaine-sand. It was luxurious. Then the sun badly burned me. That was less luxurious. On the boat ride back, I was drinking some Mac’s Sassy Red and it jumped right up my nose. I really have no idea how it happened. I’m sure it was physically impossible. With that incident and the surreal beauty of the landscape, laws of nature were being broken all over the place.
Quick overview of Christmas evening: Back at the hotel, we ate Christmas dinner and draped ourselves in streamers and paper crowns. The dessert spread was worthy of a Hogwarts feast. A fruit fly attempted to commit suicide by drowning itself in my wine. When I rescued it, it seemed to develop a new desire to live. But it couldn’t fly with its damp wings and it spent its time stumbling around in circles.