Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Abel Tasman and Christmas Parade

Having recuperated for a day, Daniel was set to do some hiking at Abel Tasman National Park.  It’s about an hour and a half from Nelson, and isn’t much there but the park.  Even in the park, there aren’t many facilities or paved roads.  Most people come to the park, though, to hike the Coastal Track, which is a 3-5 day event.  It’s not really set up for people wanting to come to do a day hike, but we decided to try all the same.  We wound 11 kms up a mountain on a one lane gravel road and eventually found a parking lot where we could access the track.  We ended up walking for about 3 hours through some forest and a couple places where the track just stopped and you walked along the beach.  As we had come to expect from New Zealand, it was more beautiful scenery with hardly anyone else around. 

On the way back, we stopped at for dinner at Moteuka, a town a little bit smaller than Nelson, and less touristy.  They were blocking off the road for some event, so we inquired what it was.  It turned out to be the town’s Christmas parade.  So, we had to stay and witness that.  It reminded me a lot of the small town events I used to go to growing up in rural Indiana.  Everybody for miles was there and there was a float for everything.  The parade actually lasted over 45 minutes.  There were also the Santa Sprints, where you raced down the street for prizes.  There was even fair food, although the corndogs were tempura dogs, and the ice cream was flavors like boysenberry. 

They started us off with the police and fire department, and then they brought in the bagpipes.  What’s a parade without bagpipes, right?  Quieter, I guess.  Unlike Australia, that was settled by English convicts, New Zealand was settled by voluntary immigration from Scotland mostly, so I suppose it’s not surprising to have a large bagpipe group hanging around. 

Then came all the school groups.  The middle schools floats both had Harry Potter themes.  The Christian School interestingly enough had the kids all to a Haka—which is the Maori war chant and what the All Blacks do before a game to scare their opponents.  My favorite was this kindergarten float full of little elves:

Or maybe the preschool winter wonderland of penguins:

Daniel and I both got a laugh out of the high school band float.  To say they lacked enthusiasm is putting it mildly.  They had hit that perfect level of volume/practice that probably meant they weren’t going to get yelled at, and not an ounce more.

It was a fun treat to stumble upon.

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