Tackling the Sea and Land
22.11.2010 27 °C
While still back in Canada dreaming and planning about our time in New Zealand, one of the place that was a “must see” for us was Abel Tasman National Park. What attracted us to this park were the beautiful beaches and the ample opportunity to hike. We were not disappointed.
We arrived at Old Macdonald Farm where we camped for the 3 nights that we were in the Abel Tasman area. How do we describe this farm/caravan park? Unique would be a word that could be used as well as alternative, hippie, communal. Are you starting to get the picture? To further help you create a mental picture of this spot it may help to know that the bathrooms were shared by all genders, and had no exterior walls, (there were stall walls though). In addition, upon entering the camping area there was a sign stating that “dress was optional”. Humm. No worries, we had not entered a nudist colony and it was actually rather fun to be all taking showers in our separate stalls and have conversations over the walls and also hear the birds chirping! We chose this particular camp ground because of its close proximity to Abel Tasman National Park. From this spot we could walk right into the park. Perfect!
The Facilites at Old Mc; Claire Feeding Duck at Old MacDonalds Farm.
We started our adventures in Abel Tasman National Park with a day of both Kayaking and hiking. From the town of Marahau we joined a tour group and, in double kayaks, spent the morning exploring an 8 km stretch of coastline in Abel Tasman. From the vantage point of the water we could see the beauty of the water, beach and then trees. We could also get a closer look at the variety of bird life that was nesting on protected beaches during their laying period. Our tour guide Steve was a local fellow and was able to fill us in on the local stories as we paddled along. For example, did you know that Abel Tasman, a Dutch seafarer, is the person who it is believed to actually be the first person to discover New Zealand? When his ships lowered their anchors off the shores of what is now Marahau, the local Maori people on shore performed a Haka which is a Maori greeting and blew some notes through a sea shell. Tasman on his boat decided to return the greeting with a song played on his trumpet. The Maori interpreted this sound as a war cry and the next morning got their wakas (canoes) and headed out to Tasman’s boats to fight. The Maori destroyed a smaller communication boat and killed all on that boat. Tasman was shocked and after firing a few cannon balls over the Maori heads, pulled up anchor and sailed away never to return. Imagine if he had not pulled that trumpet out and played a tune. The whole history of New Zealand would be different!! Anyway, back to our adventures in Abel Tasman National Park!
The Girls; Gearing Up; The Boys-a-Paddling . . . Well -a-Resting-From-Paddling; The Kids with Kayak; Man and Boat; Lunch Stop at Watering Cove; Water Taxi, Paul and Ayden; Part of the Kayak / Hike / Water Taxi Day
After our morning kayak we hungrily dined on a provided lunch at Watering Cove and then took a water taxi further north in the park to Bark Bay. Here the water taxi dropped us off so that we could hike a section of the park. This 2 hour hike took us past beautiful lookouts, waterfalls, swing-bridges and through native forest. Simply beautiful! After 2 hours of hiking we picked up another water taxi at Torrent Bay that took us back to the town of Marahau. As our water taxi was approaching the shoreline of Marahau we noticed that it was low tide and the water was about 1/2km away from the shore. No worries, on the now exposed sand of the beach, there were several tractors with boat trailer lined up. The water taxi actually boated right up onto the boat trailer at full speed!!! Yes, there were a few moments when we were wondering if we were all going to die because our taxi driver misjudged his distances, but apparently this is how it is done in Marahau! The tractor then towed the boat full of people up onto dry land, down the main street of Marahau, and back to the outfitters parking lot. What a way to end a day!!!
Torrent Bay; More Scenery; We Walked Along this Coast!!!!; Swing Bridge; A Great View; Towed Ashore; In the Boat on the Trailer on the Road; Claire and Gwen on the Water
One of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” is located in Abel Tasman National Park. This is a 4 day hike along a track that follows the coastline. On our second and last day in the park we decided to hike the first leg of this great walk. From Marahau we hiked north along the track. The plan was that we were going to hike to Anchorage Bay however we got sidetracked by the many beautiful beaches along the way: Tinline Bay, Conquille Bay, Gillbert Point , and Apple Tree Bay.
End of the Hike; Cove; Gwen, Claire and Ayden at Park Sign
When we walked out onto Apple Tree Bay we knew that we were not going any further for we had found what we believed was an ideal beach. When we walked out of the forest onto the beach we saw a beautiful expanse of empty sand dotted with clusters of trees that were perfect to picnic under away from the sun, and fringed by beautiful aqua blue water.
Apple Tree Bay Beach; Apple Tree Bay, the Whole Gang; Low Tide
We also saw some geese that looked like Canada geese, quite a flight if that is what they were. We slipped off our backpacks and shoes, and relaxed in the shade of the trees and munched a most delicious lunch as we watched and listened to the water, birds and wind. A truly perfect picnic spot and well worth the 13km hike there and back to experience it. After reluctantly leaving Apple Tree Bay, we headed back to our car in Marahau and then drove to yet another beach to catch a glimpse of the rock formation called the “split apple”. Although this formation was interesting, what we enjoyed even more were the caves and tunnels along the edge of the shore that we could explore in at low tide. The tidal pools were fascinating for they had baby shrimp in them as well as star fish and numerous other creatures that we could not identify. While walking along the beach we spotted a sea horse that had been left behind by the low tide. This was a first for all of us. Very interesting to see and study but we were sad that it was no longer alive. We ended this day of around 15km of hiking with an ice cream cone on the beach at Marahau and then nice hot showers back at the hippie joint.
Seahorse Gwen and Claire Found; Cave at Split Apple Rock; Split Apple Rock
As you can probably deduce, we had a wonderful time in Abel Tasman National Park.