Today is my second side trip, to beautiful Abel Tasman park. Steve makes a plan and we head out with Mozart cranked through the Moutere valley and mile after mile of grape vines.
It has the feel of California, those wineries, plus golden hills, water restrictions and ocean awaiting my eyes and body.
How did I get so lucky? Steve is a classical music fan but tunes into the local station. But when the opera comes on, he switches to his hometown station and saw the piece on the MPR website about my hiking the Te Araroa.
Of course he wrote and invited me to visit a place I long felt curious about. But who knew he and I – and Maggie – would hit it off so well. Like old friends, I’m already called Al.