Two young girls walk past us as we are getting ready to go paddle boarding at Tata Beach.
"Look, Hippies!", one whispers theatrically to the other, that quickly hushes her friend.
It is probably meant as somewhat of an insult, perhaps something they have mimicked from their parents, but I feel more like "life goal - achieved" as we make way down to the sand dunes. Walking barefoot in my floral sarong.
Of course, we need not worry. It is a jumble of singing along to "if you are going to Saaaan Fransisco" (and trying to learn the verses!), making dinner on the gas cooker (usually rice, sometimes with fresh veggies from the farmers market) as the sun sets, and visiting the local aquatic centre when a shower is overdue. It it very much the vantastic dream and I feel a kind of contentment that I have not felt for a long time.
We drive from Christchurch to Kaikoura through to Nelson and the Golden Bay; Motueka, hiking the Abel Tasman, Takaka Hill. I am in some ways gutted to find this place just as I am about to leave New Zealand. Whilst most kiwi cities are (I'm sorry!) a bit disappointing, this area contains of the little hippie mekkas that I had been dreming about.
Clara comes to pick me up from my Christchurch hostel. We have only been friends for a couple of months at this stage; and like with most great friendships it is difficult to tell just how or when it started. Suddenly you just find yourselves doing yoga poses outside the local tavern under the only street light of the village, playing "the floor is lava" at the beach, or agreeing to the other's stupid ideas like a matter of course. Like you have been doing that together for years already.
As we pack my stuff into her van, surveying the instant mess of clothes, sleep bags, backpacks and cereal boxes being created, we declare that the forthcoming 10 days are about to tell us what this friendships is really made of. Kind of like a couple visiting IKEA together for the first time...
One of the days, a lady on her morning walk approaches us just as I have gotten out of the fresh water from a morning swim.
"Why are you swimming here?", she enquires.
Oh dear, I think and await the health and safety briefing I am sure to follow.
But instead she continues "This place is not nice, you should be down there" and directs us further down the dunes. It is indeed a much nicer spot. We set up for breakfast; the usual peanut butter and banana sandwiches, but this morning to a vibrant blue back drop.