Renting the camper was supposed to allow us to take extreme last minute trip planning to a new level. Instead of being tied down by a hotel reservation hours away we would be able to decide what we wanted to do as our trip unfolded, spending time in places that looked interesting and moving on from places that didn't. Had I entirely endorsed the "planning nothing ahead" mantra, that is exactly how it would have worked. Instead I booked a glacier hike ahead of time which ended up forcing us to rush a couple of areas where in retrospect, I would have loved to spend more time.
We started feeling the time crunch to get down the west coast to the glacier when we were hiking in Marlborough Sounds. I had wanted to check out Abel Tasman National Park, but by the time we left the Marlborough area to head towards it we had only two days before we had to be at the glacier and just under 10 hours of driving to complete to get there. We just didn't have the time to enter the park. Instead we drove up, looked around, had a picnic, and had to head south. What we saw disappointed rather than excited me. It wasn't disappointing because it didn't live up to my expectations, but because I really wanted to stay and had to leave. The scenery was gorgeous and I would have loved to have taken a sea-kyaking trip up the coast to take it in.
Not seeing Abel Tasman seems easily fixable. There wasn't a single place on the trip I wouldn't love to see again and we're planning on going back to New Zealand anyway. The problem is that there is so much more to see than we got to. The plan for the next trip is to rent another camper and explore the southern half of the island. I don't see how we could magically get to the northern tip of the island to hike and camp in Abel Tasman without cutting out a lot of the southern part of the island and creating this problem all over again.
For now I'll just have to let it go.
More in this series:
Christchurch a year on
Hiking on Fox Glacier
Marlborough Sounds: hiking the Queen Charlotte Track
How I ended up in a camper van