Friday, 16 March 2012

Marlborough & Abel Tasman

Chances are that if you drink a white wine from New Zealand it will probably be a Sauvignon Blanc and it will probably come from the Marlborough region in the north of the South Island (does that makes sense?!?)

For mile after mile all we saw was another vineyard and endless rows of grapes, but as it was still morning and we had to drive, we passed up on the tasting this time (we do have a few bottles knocking around in the van though!) 

We stopped in Blenheim  for a wander around the shops, in Nelson to have a Starbucks (mmmm - forgot they existed!!) and at an 'honesty orchard' where we picked some apples, a nice pear and some plums, before we made it to Motueka in the Abel Tasman National Park. Abel Janszoon Tasman was a Dutch explorer who in 1642 became the first European explorer to sight New Zealand.

It is said to be the sunniest place in New Zealand we were hopeful that we would finally get a little sunshine. We booked a water taxi for the next day and kept our fingers crossed for some warmth.

It didn't work. It was overcast and about 10 degrees - perfect for a hike but rubbish for making the sea look  like they do in the pictures.

We boarded the water taxi at Kaiteriteri and motored up the coast. The first 'world famous' sight was Split Apple Rock - named for obvious reasons!

We continued northwards going past countless deserted beaches and bays. As there are no roads in the park the only way you can get to these beaches is by walking, by boat or by kayak, and when you get there the beautiful New Zealand sandflys will ensure you don't stay too long! There is no mains power at any of the houses or huts in the National Park, and all supplies have to come in via a boat or water taxi too.

At Pinnacle Island, a large NZ fur seal colony was doing what seals do best - nothing! Then the captain jammed on the brakes (do they have brakes on a boat?) as out in front a hungry seal was having a fight with an octopus. The seal won.

This rock, unnamed but should be called Whole Apple Rock for obvious reasons, was used by the NZ Navy for missile target practice before the park received its National Park status in the 1950s. As you can see the NZ Navy were a force to be reckoned with back then!

By the time we landed at Bark Bay the sun was well and truly gone, but undetered we started our 12km walk to Anchorage.

The walk was through native bush - covered in ferns and beech trees.

After a few kilometers we reached our first lookout at South Head. Not a single person on the beach.

We continued along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, and crossed the 'famous' Sandfly Bay footbridge. It sways. A lot.

We arrived in Torrent Bay and had a quick bite to eat.  The tide was coming in (it was 2pm ish and high tide was about 4pm) so we decided to use the 6km high tide track rather than the 2km low tide track.

Although you could see the appeal of cutting out the kilometers and walking over the sand bar.

The path was up and down through the forest, and without any real lookouts.  In fact for most of the walk we couldn't see the sea!

Most of the others walking the track had either stopped at Torrent Bay or were taking the low tide track, so it was just us and about 500,000 of these little things - Cicada.  They are so noisy!

And then we had a lookout. We could see back down to the low tide track! It made our day seeing people young and old stripped or soaking!

After another few kilometers we could finally see Anchorage - we just had to walk for another 45 minutes around a huge headland to get there!

But when we did it was awesome!
Especially watching the others who took the low tide track come into view (it was now 4pm and pretty much high tide time!)

We boarded the water taxi which was full of school children who had been camping for a week (obviously without showers) and made our way back.

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