Abel Tazman

Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
Trip End Feb 21, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Abel Tazman Track turned out to be a great intro to tramping in NZ. From Nelson on Sunday we took a bus and then a water taxi to Tonga Bay to start our walk. This service included a stop at Tonga Island Marine Reserve to see the fur seals there. In three days we crossed 7 gorgeous beaches strung along the coast like gems on a necklace, with coastal forest in between. All but two were accessable only by water or on foot.

Before we left the US, we saw an exhibition at Blue Spiral of WNC artist Robert Johnson's paintings and notebook sketches done in NZ  a year ago, and he got it all right. I felt I was looking into one of his pictures during the last stretch of our tramp this morning.

The weather started out hot and dry, turned cloudy on day 2, and today we are catching the tail of a typhoon--after we got off the track at Wainui Bay. Only this morning did we walk in the rain. Sidney has got his hiking legs and I am hard pressed to keep up. When we crossed (a 30-minute walk) the Awaroa estuary (right at low tide) we appreciated Cathy Arps, who urged us to have proper footwear for that. Cathy and Ron Arps take a group to New Zealand contra dancing every other winter. We're also thinking of Steve Longenecker, who one day last summer showed Sidney how to sharpen the stainless steel blade of his new Swiss Army knife to a razor-like edge--it cuts an onion like butter. Sidney's hiking poles, lent to us by Dick and Sue Schneider, are doing double duty holding up our kitchen tarp in wet weather.

This afternoon we hole up at a cafe in Takaka (it's still raining) before catching a late afternoon bus to Collingwood. We'll have a day  there before heading out to the Heaphy track for a 5-day tramp on Thursday.

Mary Ellen
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