This beautiful bay in the Tasman area of New Zealand’s South Island is – without a doubt – my happy place. Escaping winter in Amsterdam to embark on a 3-week road trip from north to south, this was our first port-of-call jumping off the Interislander ferry across the Cook Strait. Warm, summer weather awaited with not a rain cloud in sight. We drove a few hours in our banged up camper – getting turned away from our fully-booked campsite of choice in the meantime – before we stumbled across this. Less than $10 a night, running water and clean toilets (yaaaay), and just a few grassy steps to the most picturesque bay I have ever seen in my life.
Most campsites in New Zealand have very strict rules on campfires. Like, very. We lit a fire near a river in the middle of nowhere and, I shit you not, a fire engine came roaring to the scene within a couple of hours to stamp out the horrific flames of doom that were absolutely posing an imminent and alarming threat to the fragile surrounding ecosystem… Ahem. Our unexpected home for three days, however, was a rare campsite where you are actually allowed to light a fire – permitted it’s on the shoreline. With a trunk full of tin foil and assorted foods deemed appropriate for campfire cooking, we set up camp, roasted our dinner in the embers and watched a heavy, dark storm as it rumbled across the mountaintops. It was glorious. Nature in all her wild and powerful self, angry and calm, dangerous and peaceful. allatthesametime. I half expected the voice of Sir David to rise up behind us and start narrating the scene. The pure natural revelry of this moment cannot be overemphasised. It was Planet Earth IRL. After the storm cleared, the show continued. The swirling pastels melted away and left a crystal clear view of the planets and stars. This. THIS is what road tripping is all about.
(note: our campfire cooking was a solid 6/10. We ate a lot of potatoes and onions. A lot. VERY basic campfire cooking with vegetarian companions can require… imagination.)