Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Abel Tasman

Today we stayed in the Abel Tasman area to go kayaking and hiking. Abel Tasman National Park is only accessible by boat and it is the newest National Park in New Zealand. When the park was founded, the few homes around the area could stay, but no new homes were allowed to be built. All homes in the park are only accessible by boat and do not have electricity or running water. Oh yeah, and apparently they cost between 1 and 3 million dollars. Talk about roughing it!

To see most of the park in one day we opted for the taxi, kayak and hike option. We started the day on the water taxi, which took us up to Tonga Quarry. This is where the Marine Reserve and Fur Seals live. From the bay, we kayaked out to the Fur Seals island. The baby seals are just 8 months old, so they are very curious and confident in the water. Jay got some fab shots of them with his GoPro. One even touched him and gave him quite a fright (he squealed). The seals are very used to humans and even like to play in the bubbles that the kayaks make. This makes kayaking to their home a must-do, in my opinion.

After playing with the seals, we kayaked around the marine reserve to Bark Bay for a hot lunch and to trade our paddles for our shoes. It was so nice to have a hot cup of soup before heading on to our hike.

While the group tour can accommodate up to 8 people, we were lucky to be in a group of 3. Our partner, Gregor was from Scotland and just finished his first year at Uni (aka college).

We all stayed together during the three hour hike and heard about his month-long job calving in New Zealand. He is now taking two weeks. To travel before returning to veterinary school in Glasgow. While Jay and I are having a lot of fun together, we are also enjoying meeting all the other tourists. There are just so many interesting stories!

Our hike was pretty easy and very scenic. We walked on a ridge between the beautiful coves. We also crossed our first of many swing bridges. Since our hike we have seen and crossed several! Obviously, we were really excited for this one though.

After our hike, we re-boarded the water taxi and headed back into the village. By this time, it was about 3:30, whew what a day! The neatest thing was we could just make out the moon over the golden beaches. Can you see it in the picture below?

Abel Tasman's beaches are actually so golden because of the rust that forms from the iron in the rocks. Obviously, rusty beaches doesn't sound too pleasant, so they quickly became called golden beaches.

As the water taxi arrived at the village we were met by a tractor. Yes, a tractor pulled the water taxi out of the water and dragged us about 500 meters to the base. It was quite wild riding a boat on land.
Well we're off on the road again, hopefully we will cover a little ground tonight before our long drive tomorrow.