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In Nelson

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Picton is small and uninteresting, so I book travel and lodging to nearby Nelson which makes a good way-point for the Abel Tasman National Park while my ankle heals. I book a stay in Palace Backpackers which is the Chateau co-op disguised as an international hostel.

The hostel is staffed by people staying there on extended stays in New Zealand. here is Jessi from Canada who is the spitting image of a long-time FnB volunteer — dreads and all. The bearded maintenance man from New Zealand eerily reminds me of an old Chateau maintenance manager. One major difference about the hostel is that it is owned by an older gentleman rather than ostensibly by the residents. I wonder why he runs a hostel and does not staff it himself like all other family operated hostels. Is it simply a young, hot, backpacker track where he can get them drunk at night?
Upon arrival, I find out that I indeed have a reservation though my bed has been given away during my travels. I am offered a mini carriage house with couches to sleep on for free that night. This new randomness makes me happy and I accept. To celebrate, I buy a couple of bottles of wine at a local grocery and sit out back talking with the palace backpacker guests/residents, sharing the wine, and finally retire to the carriage house to sleep.
In the morning, I book Monday and Tuesday for a kayak and hiking trip in Abel Tasman with lodging on Monday night at Aquapackers which is a house boat accommodation in Abel Tasman’s Torrent Bay. Upon returning to Palace backpackers, my bed has been booked out again so I stay the next two nights in a nondescript hostel near the central park of Nelson while my ankle heals. I guess the neo-Chateau is just not meant to be.

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One local sight I enjoy during my stay – the geographic center of New Zealand – is a short 5km hike from my hostel up the hill beside the Nelson botanical gardens. I am surprised that the exact geographic center of New Zealand is exactly on the zenith of the hill. I suspect someone is lying to allow for a nice view.

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