The South Island - Picton, Abel Tasmin National Park and Murchison earthquake site
Takaka, New Zealand
South Island - Picton, Abel Tasmin and Murchison
We touched down in the South Island on July 15th and over our first 3 days there; managed to plan our whole South island trip including a mini timeline (showing off Hannahs organisation skills); drove to Abel Tasmin national park and spent a day kayaking around; had our coldest night of the campaign and visited Murchison where we did our first walk (if you can call it that!) and crossed a 110m long rope bridge!
1. Friendly i-site lady at Picton - Having diddly squat of an idea of what we were going to do in the South over our 15 days there, we were extremely grateful for the lovely lady in the Picton i-site who gave us a big road map of the south and annotated it with all the good bits for us to see! We only went in to see if there was a good chance of seeing any dolphins in Kaikora!! This map was our new most important possesion! Whilst in Picton we also walked over to the beach and got a cracking view of the port where we had just jumped off the boat, all surrounded by snowy mountains in the sun!
2. Cold night in Abel Tasmin - We did a bloody long drive to Mahuru (the town where we were doing our kayak trip from to see the Abel Tasmin national park) passing the golden beaches on our way near Nelson. After winding up the mountains and Han almost taking us out on an unexpected speed bump, we took the advice of the tour guide and searched for a paying camp site to spend the night. We ended up staying at Old McDonalds Caravan Park which was nice, an unusual introduction with a shot of whisky, but it warmed me up so happy days! We had a meal in the outdoor kitchen and tried our heater out which worked well, then we got into our chilly van, played some cards and had the coldest night of our lives! When we woke up there wasnt any condensation as per usual....there was ice!
3. Abel Tasmin Kayak tour - The morning of the ice windows was our kayak tour which started at 9. We were crapping ourselves about doing a kayak tour in sub zero temperatures so we wrapped up in all our layers and prayed that we didnt capsize or get splashed!! Luckily the tour guide looked after us well, wrapping us up in wetsuits waterproofs, coats and gloves! The kayaks we used were the propper ones with the rudder and pedals and the cover that holds you in place. To start with it was sooo cold and we were very jelous of the German girl who got the gloves with all fingers intact because the end of ours were numb! Me and Han were in a good rythm as we paddled along having a chat with Andy our tour guide who was really nice. During the trip we paddled down a narrow stream with bit of a current which we navigated ok, we paddled into a couple of caves which which didnt navigate quite as well but at least we didnt capsize, we stopped off at two nice beaches where we ate our lunch and finally we got to see a lot of lazy seals bathing on the rocks! I think we were really lucky with the day because the water was so still so it wasnt too difficult to paddle back to shore, which was a long way and would have killed us both into the wind!
4. Murchison rope bridge and earthquake site - The evening of the kayak tour we drove down and accross to Murchison so we could be ready to see the ropebridge in the morning. We pulled in just out of Murchison, had our pasta and tomato sauce with a carrot (gormet cuisine), then drove into Murchison to do the washing up at a public toilet and get ready for bed! Washing up in a toilet sums up how desperate life was! That was a good night.
In the morning we drove west for 15km to the great rope bridge of Murchison which stretched over a river. We paid $5 to get over the bridge, but despite the cheap cost it still wasnt worth it! Once over the bridge we did a walk to try and find the gold panning river but we never found it! Instead we bumped into a plackard showing a picture of a plant and saying 'End of Trail'......not sure what we were meant to have seen! Around the loop walk was the gorge that was created from the great earthquake in 1770 where the ground was thrust 7 meters in the air! We could have walked to see a waterfall but we sacked it off because of our failure on the last 15 min walk to the plackard, so we headed back to Bob and set off to Kaikora!
All in all some more good times! Next stop Kaikora for swimming with wild dolphins!