Sunday, 28 November 2010

Abel-Tasman National Park

After the detour to the beaches of Kaiteriteri, we finally hit our destination: the popular Abel-Tasman National Park. Even before arriving in NZ this national park was already recommended to us. And it is easily seen why. It is the only coastal national park in New Zealand and following the coastal track of the Abel-Tasman Great Walk you will pass many secluded golden beaches with azure blue sea. When going in summer at any point of the hike you can just rip off your clothes and plunge into the sea to cool down.


We were up for a 4 day / 3 nights hike. In Nelson we already bought supplies, but now it was time to fit them all together with tent, sleeping bags, cooking gear, a water supply, cloths, first-aid kit, flip-flops (for the tidal-crossings), towels (we would not miss out swimming in the ocean) and swim suits in our two backpacks. Wow they were pretty full. And we would have to carry that weight for 4 days. Yikes. Lucky we invested in professional balanced backpacks. It was still tough, but doable.

our backpacks were so high, we could hide behind them

Day One: Marahau - Torrent Bay
15 km / 6 h

All prepared we put our backpacks on and set foot on the Abel-Tasman Great Walk. Our first view was a vast view of a low tide-beach:

Crossing the beach, we found us on a trail along the shoreline. On our left thick green vegetation and our right the beautiful blue sea.

thick vegetation to the left
azure blue sea to the right
Wow what a view. It was really beautiful and also nice to walk, because the trees provided us with shade from the sun. Both sides have their charme. For example we found this picturesque little waterfall with pond, where bilge rat cooled her feet, while I was watching from the bridge.

The path was also fairly easy to walk. The altitude differs between sea level and ~120 meters, so no steep climbs. Also the paths are well formed preserved. That made the walk much easier than Lake Waikaremoana, and the weight much easier to carry.

In front of us was a German couple that was probably on their first walking trip. The girl was more dressed for shopping and we overheard her saying that she should have made her nails for the walk. Btw: there are so many Germans here that Kiwis started to jest that Germany must be empty by now.

With the day progressing we grew weary from walking with the weight. Good balanced or not, the packs surely were heavy. We were overjoyed when we reached Anchorage. While not our rest stop for the night, Anchorage was only 1 hour away from Torrent Bay at best and provided us with cooking and toilet facilities. So we called for a longer break, prepared some food and later went swimming in the ocean.

The story of C
While we were using the kitchen at Anchorage another guy entered and started unpacking some cooking gear. He introduced himself as C. He seemed a very friendly Kiwi lad and had some interesting stories to tell. He told us he was half Maori and worked in fruit picking for the last years. Now he decided to stop, because he has seen the devastating effects of the pesticides/herbicides used. For example he once found a mutated bird. When asked his Boss said, when you see a nest on the plantation, it's better to smash the eggs. "They're better off that way, believe me"...
It was a nice little chat. Afterwards we decided to go for a swim in the ocean. But when we announced our plan, C hurried to finish his meal and wanted to tag along. Strangely after that he more and more started to stick to our every step. He swam with us, lied on the beach with us and all the while continued telling us more and more outrageous stories. In the end, learning that we are German, suddenly started to have a German sister. Before however his mother was Maori and his father Irish. So we grew more and more suspicious of him. Alas we already told him where we were gonna spend the night, before we grew cautious. He wanted to join us to Torrent Bay at first. Growing afraid, we thought of a plan to at least have some privacy to talk and plan, so courageous bilge rat asked him, if he would mind giving us some private time, being on this trip as a couple and all.
That gave us some time to think. We decided to find the local ranger and ask for help. But when we found the ranger, guess what, he was busy talking to C. They talked for a very long time. Afterwards we managed to sneak past C and tracked down the ranger at another part of Anchorage. He calmed us that C was no dangerous person. Just a little confused and up to abuse special Maori-rights to avoid paying national park fees and camping fees. He told us C was local here and probably harmless. Nonetheless he offered us to stay at Anchorage for the night, where he could watch over us. But calming down we decided to walk on the bit to Torrent Bay and spend the night there. The next day would be hard enough!

On the way through Anchorage one more person stopped us. A girl seemed to recognize me from somewhere. It was quite funny and went a bit like this:
Girl: "I think I know you from somewhere!"
Scallywag: "You do? Hmm where you from?"
Girl: "Germany"
Scallywag: "Oh then we can talk in German"
Girl: "Cool, Okay"
Girl: "Where in Germany are you from?"
Scallywag: "Near Passau"
Girl: "Me, too. Which school?"
Scallywag: "MSG"
Girl: "Ahm, well me too."
Scallywag: "Really? Which year did you graduate?"
Girl: "2003."
Scallywag: "Shit, we were in the same grade!"
Girl: "Yep, that's what I thought. I had recognized you from somewhere and your name rings a bell"
Scallywag: "Now that you say it, yours too. I think we had some classes together"
What are the chances of meeting an old schoolmate, who was in the same grade/class with you, ten thousand miles away on some secluded beach in a national park? Wow!

It was time for our first tidal crossing! We made a long stop at Anchorage because we had to wait for low tide. Low tide crossings are one of the reasons to do the Abel Tasman Walk. They are so amazing! The way the bottom of the ocean becomes bear and hundreds of mini-crabs scurry from their hidey-holes. But don't worry, you won't step on one, because the vibration of your steps give them enough warning to hide. It was amazing to see they way the path cleared of crabs in front of you. Scallywag: "RAWR, I'm a giant trampling DINOSAUR".

Anyway, we reached Torrent Bay just before dawn, where we set up our tent next to two friendly boys. We had already met the boys before hiking on the Queen Charlotte Track. We prepared dinner and exchanged some stories with them about travelling in New Zealand. It was a nice evening and a very good sleep after such a crazy day.

log by scallywag

Day Two: Torrent Bay - Awaroa
20 km / 7-8 h

On the morning of our second day, we knew that we had a long way ahead of us. We went off at about 9 am.
We past a small gathering of holiday houses and continued along the path, which had many, many side tracks to very beautiful beaches. Late morning we stopped at one beach to cool ourself off.

We swam across unknowing that the tide was coming in.  Just 10 minutes later we had trouble coming back! The current pushed us inwards, so the we didn't arrive directly opposite from where we started. Just a bit longer and we wouldn't have been able to get back to our stuff :D

Refreshed we pressed on. Unfortunately my left boot was giving me some trouble. I was developing huge blisters. Never wait to put on a blister patch! But the pain coulnd't stop me from enjoying the spectacular views and the curiosity of nature.

We pushed on until Onetahuti Bay, where we had to wait for low tide again. Strengthening ourself with a good meal we lazed on the beach afterwards enjoying the golden sand and the crystal clear waters.

With our spyglass we spotted the path leading toward the tidal crossing. It was a tiny crossing. We were amused by a young group of spanish girls who made several attempts to cross the tiny rivulets of water without taking of their shoes, but always jumping back. One good thing to know: it's a pain to go tramping with wet shoes. Comfortable, dry shoes are the very basis of a good, enjoyable walk.
We still had three and a half hours till our camp! After climbing a saddle the path split into two. Deciding for a change we left the DOC track and took the private path, which eventually led to a tiny empty resort. One thing we learned during our travels, the kiwis are very spare with direction signs! We had to search for someone to ask for directions because our maps were no help on this side of the track. It's always a bit scary to feel lost in an isolated, deserted place. Eventually we found someone who helped us. Relieved, we continued on the the second tidal crossing of that day. It was the longest of them all! Exhausted from a good day of tramping we arrived at Awaroa Camp Site. When we pitched our tent it was already almost dark and just as we were inside, it started to rain. We heard some commotion at the hut nearby, but we were way too tired to go look what the noise was all about. Turned out to be a small gathering; with the local Maori boys persuaded to do the haka at one point. So we got to at least hear, if not see the haka :D After the haka I heard an elderly saying that was the worst haka he has ever seen :D

log Bilge Rat

Day Three: Awaroa Inlet to Totaranui
1h 30 min

Although we originally planned to overnight at one more camp site further up the track, we were forced to end our Walk on the third day. My blisters were giving me a lot of pain, making it a pain to walk. Unfortunately I couldn't stand the pain any more, so we decided to catch a water taxi back from Totaranui.
Arriving at Totaranui, it was a complete contrast to the tranquil and serene track. Totaranui is a popular Holiday park located in the National Park. It is accessible by car, so there were many families holidaying here.
We searched for the public telephones, because they allow you to free-call the water taxi's hotlines. We contacted our chosen company and were able to change our pick up time. That left us 3 hours to relax and wait for the jetboat's arrival. We couldn't resist and went for a little dip in the ocean again :) Also we met a young sympathetic German, who told us that he's hiking to the end and back to the beginning (5 days altogether) because he couldn't afford a water taxi. Respect!
They journey on the boat back was a very enjoyable addition to tramping the track. We were lucky that our skipper was experienced because he managed to delicately steer the boat into a  jaw-droppingly beautiful lagoon. Unfortunately we imposed on a couple who were "enjoying some private time" xD The lagoon was really something out of paradise:

It'a also a favourite resting place of big fat lazy sea lions :D Our skipper also managed to point out a penguin and a rock curiosty
they call it the ninja turtle rock
The way to the car park was also an experience in itself. Arriving at the dock, instead of getting out of the boat they managed to dock the jet boat to a pulling truck and then drove us, loaded onto the truck, to the car park. It was quite fun :D

At the car park we took a fellow tramper with us to "The Barn" where we wanted to take a shower again. It was my time for a coincidental encounter, because I found out that the girl studied at my university and we had mutual friends!
After our long awaited, refreshing shower we were back on the road!

No comments:

Post a Comment