So after a very picturesque drive through the rolling hills of the Marlborough wine region we arrived in Nelson. True to the city's reputation the sun was shining on both our days there, which was the perfect weather for a trip to nearby Abel Tasman National Park. Abel Tasman was a Dutch explorer who sailed to New Zealand around 150 years in advance of Captain Cook. He himself however never set foot on the country after a bad encounter with the Maori people. Some of his sailors were transferring between his 2 ships and were fired upon, so Abel Tasman swiftly turned back and headed for home having come all that way! He does however have a sea named after him, as well as this beautiful coastal national park in the north-west of the south island.
We had a very early start for the 1.5 hour bus transfer to the park entrance. The main attraction of the park is the quality of the sea kayaking on offer there, and we opted to take a trip out to Watering Cove Beach on a kayak and back via a walk and water taxi. The kayaks were 2 seater and wider than river kayaks, minimalising the risk of capsizing, which is what I managed to do last time I kayaked on Loch Ken in Scotland! I was paired with a Californian nurse not on my Connections tour, and she took the front seat with me in the back in control of the foot operated rudder. She was a really fun girl but an absolutely useless rower. When I stopped rowing we stopped, and there was no chance of us rowing in unison as she rowed so fast because her oars merely skimmed the surface of the water! It was very flat and calm at sea but still a lot of effort to row for 2.5 hours. My arms are very tired today. We covered around 8-10km on the water, circum-navigating a couple of wooded islands to view the flora and fauna and some seals on the rocks there. We didn't get chance to get out of the uncomfy kayaks until reaching Watering Cove, which was a very pleasant isolated beach. We had our provided pack lunch before setting off up into the hills on a 2 hour hike. The views down the coastline were amazing and I didn't realise New Zealand had such spectacular and almost tropical looking coastal scenery. After saying goodbye to the American girls we descended into the bush and visited a small waterfall. The water was astonishingly clear in the rivers, and at sea it was a beautiful greeny blue.
We had a schedule for the water taxi and had intended to get on the 4.15pm but we found ourselves finishing our walk at 2.30pm, and there was a taxi at 2.45. The taxis were only small speedboats and we weren't quite sure where it would pull up on the beach, so when we saw a small boat pull up at the opposite end at 2.45 we all ran in a panic through streams in our shoes in order to make it on time. My hiking shoes got drenched but it was all in vain as the boat was a different company from our ticket. The 2.45 with our company never showed up so it was a long, but pleasant wait on the beach for the 4.15. It was a 30 minute journey at a swift pace back to the visitor centre. On the beach back at the centre the boats boarded trailers on the back of tractors in order to be taken to the shore without grounding. That made for a pretty bizarre sight as the sea was full of huge tractors!
Today we journeyed back through the Marlborough region and are now on the east coast, which is shrouded in cloud. We stopped at Ohau Point seal breeding colony on route, and saw some small seals. But it was much more interesting was watching all the huge waves crash against the rocks in spectacular fashion. Currently in Kaikoura, which is a very small coastal town that has a beautiful snow covered mountain range as a backdrop. Have to go now as I am about to take a walk along the peninsula here. Thanks for reading.