GLAMping… It stands for GLAMour camPING and we had our first taste of it at Punga Cove.
What is glamping? Glamping is the exact opposite of hiking/camping as I know it. It is finishing your walk for the day and having a cappachino, taking a shower and changing into clean clothes for a dinner that you don’t cook on a camp stove and then sleeping every night in a bed with clean sheets after a few glasses of wine or beer with dinner. Glamping is carrying a day pack and not having to set up a tent or worry about a rainy night. Glamping is a hair dryer and makeup, cologne and collard shirts after only 5 hours of walking from your previous resort. At first, glamping made me want to throw up.
Glamping and the Queen Charlotte Track: The QCT is the only “great walk” calibre hike in New Zealand that you can glamp on, as it is supported by a network of resorts, water taxis and guided tour companies. About half the yearly the walkers of QCT forgo campsite accommodations and stay in the resorts conveniently placed a short days walk from each other. The 70km walk is split up into 4 or 5 days, with a resort at each overnight location. The craziest part to me had to be the luggage system, which as foreshore at Punga Cove Resort I played a daily part of. Walkers would leave their packs (60lbs suitcases) outside the room of the resort they we’re staying at and staff would then load it onto a water taxi which would deliver the packs to our dock. I would then load the bags onto the trailer and deliver them to their assigned chalet and the next morning at 9am pick the bags up and get them on the next days water taxi to the following resort. You could walk 70km and very possibly never move your pack except through the door of your chalet each afternoon. It was a truly bizarre concept to me and violated everything I thought hiking was supposed to be.
Why I was wrong in my scorn: At the end of the day, I love nature and I think every human being should spend some time in the woods to appreciate what is around them. It’s not about who can carry the most expensive gear the furthest each day; it’s about walking up a hill and seeing a view that makes your jaw drop and realize how little you really are in comparison to Mother Nature. Glamping on the QCT makes this possible to such a greater group of people, something I didn’t realize until a week or two had gone by. Whether they were physically unable to carry gear for 70km, travelling with children or uncomfortable with sleeping in a tent and not showering for the better part of a week, the resort network on the QCT opened nature to a much larger demographic. I firmly believe that anytime someone experiences true nature and disconnects from the rat race for even a day, their horizons open and because of that I’m grateful for the water taxis and foreshore folks on the QCT.
Working at the resort has finished, we’ve been to Canada for the wedding and now we’re back in New Zealand! Regular updates are about to start again and we’ll be able to catch everyone back up with what we’ve been doing the last 2 months. Cheers!
Trying not to sound preachy or elitist, we have come to find a way that we can verbalize our current and hopefully many future interactions with native/aboriginal people that we meet in any of our off the grid, non touristy travels. This came about during a lengthy layover at the less developed Fijian airport of Suva. We had a long break before our final flight to Auckland and ended up walking into the local town, evidently a non-standard practice. We spent a few hours walking down the main highway with several taxis and regular folks stopping to see if we needed help or if we were lost… As we started walking into what would reasonably be classified as slums we started to second guess our logic.
But you know what? The people who look scary, with the unkempt yards and feral dogs were the first to flash a smile and say good morning. And when greeted with a smile and a “good morning” directed at them they lit up with a beaming smile. We did nothing that day except wave to the kids at a local school and try to buy some food off the local market and shops that were not following the most stringent health laws. We didn’t get mugged or robbed, no one tried to swindle us out of cash but rather seemed pleasantly surprised that the rich white tourists were willing to walk through their town and say hi to them rather than taking a bus to their resort property. (We were in Fiji after all)
It’s funny how regardless of how different the places I’ve been, be it Afghanistan or Fiji, one thing has remained constant; if you realize you are no better than the people you’re around and make an actual effort to embrace and respect the culture things normally turn put for the better. This led us to develop a bit of a mantra for our travels: we want to leave a shop, restaurant or street corner with the local saying “
**Disclaimer: A lot of you reading this are about to tell us to shut up and/or go to hell…
4 days in a backpackers hostel with 19 year olds German kids will make you feel old… We are so old. New Zealand is filled with Europeans, mainly German, taking their “gap year” which is a year of holiday and world traveling between high school and university. That also translates to blowing your cash when you get to Auckland on going out partying…
So there we sat one night in our 12 person shared bunk room realizing that we are the old people in this crowd and this is what we came up with:
I’m basically the only guy with a beard because I am basically the only one old enough to grow one.
They cook ramen in the communal kitchen and buy cases of shit beer, we bought lamb and drank a single craft beer.
We’ve been “hooking up” longer than half the kids in our bunk room have been in puberty.
The start partying at midnight, we’re asleep by 1030.
They buy extra Internet and spend the days in the common room on their laptops, we actually left the hostel but don’t know how to use an iPad.
Priorities include buying a car and getting a local cell phone. I bought my first car around the time they bought their first bike and paying car insurance sucks!
But worst of all… I actually wanted to get a book and read last night.
New Zealand! 18 months ago; a wild dream. A year ago; a distant possibility. Six months ago; a legitimate trip. Two days ago; a one way ticket from Los Angeles Airport. We made it across the world, across the equator and onto the volcanic rock the size of Colorado that we will call home for the next four months. Our first couple days, the topic of this post, were spent in a downtown Auckland hostel fighting jet lag and the joys of a 12 person dorm filled with 18 year old German kids (a post lamenting about our old age and time at the hostel is in the days to come).
So once we finally made it to Auckland after about 22 hours of time in an airplane what did we do? Besides sleep you mean? We had a hostel booked for three nights in walking distance to the downtown and we tried to see as much of the city that we could for free. Our first full day led us to buying breakfast groceries from an Indian man named “Eddy” who upon learning we had a friend from Assam gave us a killer deal on our eggs and veg and even hooked us up with a cheap Indian mean from the joint next door that night!
After a breakfast from Eddy’s Market, we spent day 2 in NZ seeing the downtown, including Lindsay indulging my man crush on sail boats. We also tried to do much of the tourist stuff in the city center like the fish market and the wharf area. The highlight of the day definitely being all of the sailboats, which WILL be my midlife crisis. I just need to learn how to drive one!
Day 3 turned into a bit more of an adventure than we bargained for. A 15km(ish) trail went from one side of the Auckland isthmus to the other, taking a traveler through many of the city’s famous parks. Getting a late start as we normally do, we left the hostel at a bright and early 1030am and not long thereafter I lost the map out of my back pocket and we were on our own. Not to fear, we had a general idea of where to go and a 1.3mil person city couldn’t be THAT big. After getting lost only a few times we connected back to the trail which led through historic districts, national monuments and even a sheep farm. Being good little tourists we took pictures of this for all you nice people to see.
An early morning by any standards, 530am wake up and we were out the door on day 4, headed to the bus stop and our wwoofing gig at the Packtrack farm. (Follow the blog for that update!)