Back on the road again we headed off from Nelson to tackle a part of the Abel Tasman Track and watch whales on the east coast. Not all our goals were achieved.
Waves Abel Tasman - Monday 14 November 2011
We based ourselves in Motueka for the Abel Tasman. The national park is New Zealand's smallest and the most visited. The whole tramp is 51km in distance and is tackled as a two to three day trek. We had decided to walk an 18km stretch from Onetahuti beach to Anchorage. This would give us a taste of the walks through the bush and beautiful beach side scenery.
We had to take a water taxi from Marahau to the start and another from Anchorage back to the carpark once we had completed the walk. The first thing we had to do was board the boat in the car park outside the aquatic sports centre in Marahau. All of the water taxis were on their trailers and each trailer had a tractor to pull them to the beach for launching.
Our boat joined about 10 others being pulled into the surf and we were off. The ride was choppy but well worth it. We headed to Split Apple Rock first - a rock in the sea that looks like it sounds. Karen took a picture so I don't have to describe it! After a quick stop at the seal colony on Tonga Island we were dropped off on the beach.
The weather had been wet and windy overnight so I had put my gaiters on over my hiking boots before we got on board at Maharau. We had to leap into the sea to get off the boat so I had to take gaiters, shoes and socks off before marching up the beach to put them all back on.
The walk was pleasant and as always we completed it well before the expected time. The weather was great and the walk had it all: stunning beaches and shady paths; flowering shrubs and clear blue lagoons; rocky promontories and small islands. It was the busiest walk we have done but our fellow trampers were friendly and polite.
The sea was still rough as we headed back from the beach (bare foot through the surf to the boat again!) but the ride was short. At the end the boat went back onto the trailer and the boatman became a tractor driver to take us back to the car.
I've not had the best of days showing that I am an adult male fully in control of all situations.
I took three goes before I successfully reversed out of the Timmsies drive in Nelson. All this was done in front of the family as they waved me goodbye several times before I finally left the driveway. Funnily enough I had just boasted how easily I had reversed out the previous two times I had to.
On the Abel Tasman walk I realised halfway through the walk that I had put my gaiters on back to front twice (once before boarding the boat and the second time after getting off the boat at Onetahuti).
The Final Cut Kaikoura - Tuesday 15 and Wednesday 16 November 2011
The drive from Motueka to Kaikoura was interesting. We passed through the Marlborough wine area, spotting familiar vineyards and the local chocolate factory on the way. Beyond the vineyards we could see the valleys rise up to high rolling hills and mountains (some snow-capped)
Kaikoura is on a peninsula. The final part of the drive took us down the coast towards the town and we could see the peninsula in the left of our windscreen at the same time as seeing the coastal Kaikoura range in the right side. The mountains are snow covered and drop very quickly towards the sea - just a few high hills and a small plain separating them from the surf.
After checking in we headed into town to book a whale trip and walk the Kaikoura Peninsula Walk.
The walk started at the top end of the Peninsula by a seal colony (no seals in sight) and headed along the cliffs past gull colonies and a rugged coast. At Whalers Bay we cut the corner and made our way to a small coastal settlement on the south of the Peninsula before heading over a small hill back to Kaikoura on the north side.
The next day was bright blue and the sea seemed calm. Unfortunately further out the conditions were rough and all sailings had been cancelled for the day. Disappointed but philosophical we headed back to have a relatively lazy day (we only walked 14km!)
Opposite our motel was a hairdresser's (Crazy Jane's). I sat in the chair for 1 minute as the small amount on my head was made even smaller. Karen was going for the works so was there slightly longer. Crazy Jane did a good job but not as efficient as the team back home in Banbury. Karen's next colour and cut was booked in before we left Blighty! Karen will see you at the end of January Amy and Paul.
Go west!Trip to Westport - Thursday 17 November 2011
This is one of the best road journeys I have ever taken.
We headed inland from Kaikoura on a minor main road that skirted the valley to the south west of the seaward Kaikoura range. The town was quickly left behind us as we headed into farm land almost exclusively given over to pasture.
The road headed up, round sharp bends over and over rolling hills as we moved through small communities on our way to Waiau. We took a right turn in the centre of the farming town. The scenery by now had been supplemented by wide flat river valleys - everything being framed by snow-capped mountains.
The fields by the roadside were occupied by large numbers of cattle, sheep and deer. Birds were all over the road round every corner including eagles (one actually feeding on road kill as I appeared round the bend), sparrows, magpies and small finches.
Shortly after cutting through Lewis Pass we stopped at Maruia Springs (a Japanese thermal spa) for a cup of tea. We were soon off again down wooded lanes and past ever wider rivers as we approached the West Coast of the South Island for the first time. Towards the end the river hugged rocky banks and the road was literally cut out of the rocks.
A second stop for lunch a few miles from our destination meant that we would arrive just after our check in time. The town is nice and compact with all of the necessary shops and information centres.
Hand me down that can of beans Cape Foulwind walk - Thursday 17 November 2011
Not wishing to waste the remainder of the day we drove out to Cape Foulwind for a short ramble along the coast.
This was another walk that started with a seal colony but this time they were home. Now they are lovely creatures and are coming back from the brink in this part of the world but we are a little bit "so what", having seen many colonies in the States. Nevertheless we got a few shots and watched as a few of the bigger ones moved from one sleeping position to another.
Apart from the unfortunate positioning of a large factory pumping out smoke nearby, the walk reminded me of an accessible Lands End in terms of scenery. We headed along the tops of cliffs to a lighthouse built on a the highest point to warn ships off the rocks and reefs off the coast.
Gulls flew overhead, tunnocks flew slightly lower and oyster catchers prowled the beaches below as sheep and horses grazed in the field just inland. At one point a friendly Weka (not Waka Waka as we had been previously been told) walked across the path with it's chick. On the way back we took a shot of the two of them with the chick resting underneath its mother.
A short trip back into town and a nice dinner courtesy of New World (New Zealand's Waitrose apparently) completed the day.
Play the game
There is a lot of water out this way. Each turn has a creek, many boringly named (Tidal Creek 1), some obviously named (Watercourse Creek) and others with intriguing monikers (Dufty's Creek).
At boring points during the last two car journeys I've tried to use the creek names to come up with a new set of set of seven dwarves. Here they are: Stinky, Swampy, Cockney, Dead Dog, Glass Eye, Chatterbox and Brewery. I bet Snow White wouldn't kiss those guys!
We head South next - to the Pancake Rocks and mighty glaciers. The route will take us past Keri-Katonea; somewhere we have been told to avoid. Apparently the place is so bad that all of the female parents have emigrated as far away as possible. That's right, all the mums have gone to Iceland.