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A Day in the Abel Tasman

Friday 23rd October 2015

rain 15 °C

Today has been our only real venture into the Abel Tasman National Park. Much of the the area is only accessible by boat with most of the walking tracks running along near the coast. We had booked to go with Sea Shuttle who run boat trips, dropping people off and picking them up from the numerous bays along the lower eastern shore. The excursion we were going on would take us up as far as Totaranui which is the most northerly point in the National Park that they are allowed to go. It would then turn back on the return leg and pick up and drop us and others off on the return leg. We left the cottage at about 8:15am in order to make the short drive to Kaiteriteri for a 9am departure. After checking in we just had time to grab a quick take away coffee before we needed to board for the 9am departure. The boat probably had sixty or seventy people on board and so the lower deck was pretty full. Intriguingly there was a woman with a couple of children and a large covered bird cage with a cockatiel or similar in it. She eventually got off at one of the bays and walked entourage in the direction of one of the beach houses.

Given that the weather wasn't that good everyone initially sat on the lower deck but as we got underway we went up on deck so that've could get a better view. It was windy and a bit chilly but it was still good to see the coast, and perhaps a little unusually it was easier to hear the commentary from our really informative guide from there. One of the most famous features on the coast is Split Apple Rock which we reached about 5 or 10 minutes after leaving Kaiteriteri.


Our captain gave us plenty of time to look at and photograph the rock formation before we continued on to Marahua, where the coastal road ends. When we arrived at Apple Tree Bay a few people got off intending to do their walk in the morning, but we stayed on in order to enjoy the full cruise. A large family also got off, carrying loads of supplies with them, and headed to the one lonely house on the bay. They were clearly heading there for a few days holiday, perhaps intending to take advantage of the long Labour Day public holiday weekend. More people got off at the sweeping Anchorage Beach. This has a large hut at one end for people spending several days walking in the Abel Tasman, and some interesting rock formations at the other which we were able to explore later in the day. All of the beaches up that part of the coast have lovely yellowy, orangey Sahara coloured sand that comes from the iron oxide in the rocks. Once eroded into sand it turns this colour when it comes into contact with the sea. Whilst continuing north we pulled up by one of the islands in order to see some fur seals and then continued along the coast passing the unfortunately named Sandfly Bay and Mosquito Bay. Shortly after we saw two further rock formations; the Tonga Arches and Cottage Loaf Rock


before arriving at the Awaroa Inlet. At Totaranui Beach, the furthest point on our journey, we picked up a large group of school children on a week long trip from Nelson. There was one lad who came and chatted to us for a bit. I noticed that he was one of those children that got teased, and probably bullied. Whilst most of the other children were wearing trainers or expensive shoes, he just had on a pair of basic plimsoles. I find it sad to ponder what it is might be like to grow up on the fringes of your peer group and what the longer lasting legacy might be.

By this time we were sitting inside the boat and the weather had clouded over even more and was a little colder so were happier for some shelter. The guide Mark came and chatted to us for a while and asked about our trip and we were then dropped off in Apple Tree Bay with instructions as to the way to walk and exactly where we would be picked up. It was strange to be left on the beach and see the boat reversing out and then disappearing out of sight round the next headland.


The footpath we needed to take was clearly marked and we started to climb up the hill giving us good views of the bay as we looked back. After about half an hour we reached Stillwell Bay, and as it was lunchtime by then, we took the short side track down to the beach where we sat and ate our picnic.


There was time to have a little explore before we made our way back up the steep path to rejoin the main footpath and then we continued to climb slowly up the hillside. There were a number of narrow bridges we had to cross, and past some small waterfalls. The national park is full of native plants including large numbers of tree ferns with their unfurling new fronds or koru.


There were also some lovely examples of lichen growing on the ground. Near to our destination point of Anchorage there was a side path leading to a lookout. By this time it was raining quite steadily and so the visibility was poor. We had a bit of a view south to the bays we had already walked past, although it was quite misty.


The ground near the lookout was made up of a lovely palate of cream and ochre and it gave a good indication of why the sand on the nearby beaches are the colour they are. Whilst we were at the lookout we got chatting to a New York couple who had come out to New Zealand for a three week holiday. I think they were a little envious of our extended trip.

From this point the path started to descend quite steeply affording views, albeit hazy ones, towards Torrent Bay.


Although it was quite hard on the knees (and my slightly week ankle) having such a steep descent did explain why the suggested walking route was from south to north. It wasn't long before we reached Anchorage Bay and as we still had the best part of an hour to spare we walked up to the hut and made use of their loos and then walked to the other end of the bay to look at the interesting rock formations


and I took off my walking sandals and went barefoot but given the coldness of the water had no desire to get anything other than my feet wet. The boat arrived on schedule and picked up a number of walkers and we then made the half hour boat journey back to a rather damp and miserable Kaiteriteri. We took the opportunity to go and have a cup of coffee in the cafe by the beach before returning to the cottage. A lovely day was finished off with a nice supper cooked by Nigel and the most amazing sunset of deep reds and purples giving us hope of a nice day tomorrow.


Posted by Gill's Travels 02:58 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches sea new_zealand abel_tasman

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