I can't believe that it's been almost a week since my sky dive, I remember it so vividly... But what else has been happening in the last few days? Well, the day after my sky dive we headed down towards Wellington to get the ferry across to the South Island and after driving for most of the day finally reached our caravan park which was situated near the port around 6pm. We were due to get the ferry at 8.20am and so spend the evening in our cabin which actually resembled a prison cell. I'm not kidding, it was tiny and we had bunk beds and white concrete walls and that's about it. In fact the only thing missing were steel bars on the windows!
The next morning we boarded the ferry which takes around 3 hours to get to the South Island and passed the time away by having a fry-up (my first since I've been away)! And it wasn't long before we had left the ferry in our car and were heading towards the Abel Tasman National Park.
It's absolutely amazing what a contrast there is between the North and South Islands. The South Island is a lot less developed and there just seems to be a more mellow and slower way of life. We love this and so immediately grew to like the South Island more than the North. Soon we were at Marahou - an absolutely gorgeous tiny village which is the launch pad for the Abel Tasman National Park.
Most people go to this park to kayak around and camp over-night. I didn't want to do either of these. Sorry, but I am not a huge fan of kayaking (just find it pointless) and I don't like camping - those of you who have tried to get me to go to any kind of music festival will testify to it! So we decided (or rather I decided) that we would do a day walk around the most scenic part of the park. Basically we were to be dropped off by speed boat at the start of the track, walk/hike for 4/5 hours to a beach before getting picked up by speed boat and taken back to Marahou.
So we boarded the speed boat early in the morning in the middle of the street and were taken to the boat launch by tractor before being let go into the sea. I'm sure there is a cool, proper sailing terminology for this but I don't know it - anyway the speed boat whizzed round to one bay and we got to see the famous "Split Apple Rock" before heading towards our drop-off point. On the way we spotted some fur seals before pulling up to the beach for us to disembark for our walk.
The walk itself was very challenging in parts with a lot of hills to walk up but the view when we got to the top of them were amazing. Beautiful beaches, blue lagoons and lush forest made the walk thoroughly enjoyable. By the time we had reached our pick-up point we were knackered and as we were early we had an enjoyable couple of hours on the beach. I should also tell you that one of the amazing things about this area is the tide. During low tide you can actually walk pretty much most of the areas around the beaches. When we got our boat again, we had to walk around 300/400 meters into the sea to board and we were still only knee deep in water!
We were sad to leave Marahou on Sunday, we loved our cabin and the little village but we were on our way to Glacier country. This area is made up of the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers and is a World Heritage site. Before that we took a little detour to see the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. If like me, you thought this is some sort of sex hotel which serves breakfast you'd be wrong and would probably not visit one of the most stunning places in New Zealand!
The Pancake Rocks were formed 30 million years ago from minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants that landed on the seabed about 2 km below the surface. Immense water pressure caused the fragments to solidify in hard and soft layers. Gradually seismic action lifted the limestone above the seabed. Mildly acidic rain, wind and seawater sculpted the bizarre shapes to look like layers of Pancakes. During high tide sea crashes into this rocks and the sea water blows out through the gaps in the rocks. You realise the power of mother nature when you look at something like this. First of all the power of the waves is unbelievable, add to that the huge roar as well and you really feels so tiny and insignificant compared to it all.
After this spectacular show of nature we retired to a near by town for the night to head to the Glaciers the next morning.
Well, we were a little disappointed when we got there. I'm sure if you took a tour on to the glaciers you'd appreciate them more, but we didn't want to spend a fortune just to look at some ice! So we did the walk as far as you could go without a guide and then went back to our car. I thought they would be a lot bigger and more spectacular, but to me it just looked like a bit of ice on a mountain. Sorry if I'm doing them an injustice but I just couldn't understand what all the fuss was about.
And that pretty much brings us up-to-date to today. We are in a place called Wanaka and are going to do another walk this time in Mount Aspiring National Park tomorrow morning. On our way here this morning stopped at a place called Puzzle World which was a lot of fun. This is basically a museum of visual illusions and although doesn't sound like it's very interesting was brilliant. There was a also a huge maze there which we managed to get lost in and spent an hour trying to find our way out!
Right, I guess that's it for now, better get back to our prison cell....I mean cabin.