Monday, 10 December 2012

Abel Tasman (well, not very able now having walked 25km!)

So after finishing the blog last night we went into town to see the Starlight Parade, a Christmas event, but in summer (we still can’t get our heads around it!) and saw a load of floats going by, finished off by Santa going past in the back of a strange car (not the real Santa obviously!) He waved to us and wished us Happy Christmas.

Santa and some of the floats
This morning we got a water taxi an hour up the coast in the Abel Tasman National Park (so named after the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who first sighted and named New Zealand in 1642. He didn’t land as he was seen off by a group of Maori’s in their waka’s (canoes). He also discovered Australia, that he named New Holland, but Captain Cook renamed it Australia, and he named the Tasman Sea between NZ and Australia and Tasmania, an island off south east Australia – a busy man!) to a place called Bark Bay. It’s about a quarter of the way up the park, that has no roads and virtually no houses, so it’s pretty remote, leaving us a walk of about 22km back to Marahau, the village we started from. 
The water taxi being launched by tractor!
A 'must see' apparently on the water taxi - The 'Split Apple Rock'
It wasn’t too much of an ordeal, it’s pretty flat and is a good coastal path, passing some stunning scenery. All around is regenerating jungle and, occasionally it was up at about 200m, with sheer drops straight to the turquoise blue sea, other times it was along the beach, one section being across a lagoon, only passable 2.5hours either side of low tide (we were about an hour inside that), where we had to remove our shoes and paddle.
Typical scenery on the way
An interesting swing bridge over one section
The lagoon (on the right) only passable at low tide
Jackie paddling across the lagoon
It is possible to walk the whole of the Abel Tasman coastal path, but it takes about 4 days and camping equipment is required, so instead we opted for the water taxi out and a walk back. There were more other people on this walk than we’d seen on the Queen Charlotte Track a few days back, but I suppose that’s because this one is a more well known walk and is popular. As the skipper of the water taxi dropped people off at various points he remarked how quiet it is. In one bay there were two yachts and he said that in two weeks time when everyone breaks up for Christmas there will be 70 or 80 yachts here! He said it’s a very popular place during their summer holidays. Thank heavens we did it when we did!
A relatively tame cormorant (he did start to walk off when I got a bit closer though!)
We took a few side paths down to isolated beaches, which were just amazing, so in all we reckon we walked about 25km, which felt more than enough for both of us. Fortunately there was a bar at the end so we could celebrate completion with a cold beer and we managed to find a campsite very near with another bar onsite, with a ‘happy hour’, so we had to go and have another beer! Marahau is a bit isolated and there’s no mobile phone signal, so although I’m writing this today (Saturday), it won’t be posted for at least a day, until I can get a signal.
The beer at the end!

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