This post starts February 6th and ends February 18th.
The north island ended in Wellington. And I got company from Sweden for the start of the South Island. We were going to get some hut tickets for Samuel so that we could use the amazing hut system in the NZ backcountry. The guy selling us tickets at DOC asked us if we were good friends and wanted to keep being good friends. We answered yes. He said, "then seriously consider if you really want to try taking on the Richmond ranges if you want to stay good friends". I said that we'd probably be fine since we had done some off trail traversing together in Sweden and I had previously tried the big north island mountains. He ensured me this was different, without even been to Sweden or the Ruahines. We eventually got the hut tickets and Samuel got a little worried. Is it that hard? I didn't think it should be as hard as he described it, but probably steep and exhausting.
Our South Island experience however, started in Abel Tasman (sometimes referred to as Tabel Asman, which is some hilarious spoonerism) national park after a threefold midnight hitch from Picton to Nelson. The ferry arrives in Picton on the South Island and we were supposed to be picked up in Nelson the following morning. Spent the night at a field hockey field (please English, start calling it land hockey as we do in Sweden). Not did we figure that the sprinklers would go off at 4 o'clock in the morning, almost devastating Samuel's tent. Lucky for us, it only lasted about ten minutes before the sprinklers changed. Not that much sleep first night in the South Island.
Kayaking was beautiful and we saw some NZ fur seals basking on the cliffs. Cute as. One of the kayak guys was an original kiwi and probably said "ye ye ye" more times in one day than most kiwis do in an entire life time. Sounded like a car starter engine - ye ye ye ye wroom.
Even though Samuel is a drummer, he constantly wanted to increase paddling pace, making us exhausted at the end of the day. I might have been included in that when hyping our pace in the beginning. We were faster than all the other kayakers for the first five minutes, then we got drained...
Getting back to Nelson, all hostels were full so we got a cab to a camp ground close to the trail head. Yup a cab, cause of course we were late and would've missed the office open hours if we walked there. Turned out to be cheaper than a hostel even including the cab ride.
Walking in the Richmond ranges was steep, similar to Kawekas/Ruahines. A bit wider though, more layers of mountains. We got 50/50 sun/cloud. Nice for Samuel so he only got a little burned.
They did not feel dangerous and scary as the DOC guy explained them. They made you respectful and humble, but mountains usually have that effect on me anyway. Just wonderful surroundings and steep climbs. A couple of streams for skinny dipping as well. Got the most beautiful sunset (probably in my entire life) at the summit of Mount Rintoul. Surrounded by 270° of jagged mountains and a sky going from silver, to golden, to orange to pink to starry and dark. Insane. Other than that, no big events to describe so I think the pictures will have to speak for themselves.
Richmond ranges took us five days to finish and we had a blast. I think me and Samuel are closer friends after the Richmonds than before, proving the DOC guy wrong. So wrong I sent DOC Wellington an email saying that we were fine, that I appreciated his concern when trying to talk us out of it but that we didn't regret Richmonds for a second and that we are bester friends now.
Sums it all up pretty well.