Amazing Abel Tasman

Trip Start Nov 14, 2008
Trip End Mar 10, 2009

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

I keep forgetting about this & this really should be under the Santa Monica blog but never mind! Whislt Theresa & I were in the pharmacy in Santa Monica some chap started to talk to us in the "crest" Isle; he correctly identifyed that we were from Scotland which in itself is a miracle as normaly the Americans think we are either Austrailian or Irish! Anyway he told us that his gran was from Scotland so recognised the accent - on quizzing him further he told us she was from Buckie originally. When sharing that my familly was from up there as well he corrected himself & said she was actually from a small village outside Buckie called Portlessie! Chances are we were related!

Anyway back to the more recent present!

Thursday 4th December
Writing this whilst drinking a fine drop of Pinot Gris Peregrine wine - luke warm & from a plastic tumbler sitting in our "lounge" in our posh tent on the edge of Abel Tasman National Park. Jackie is sitting in the one chair whilst I'm perched on my rucasc - the sound of cows intermittently breaks the noise of the all the various birdies tweeting away. Little super midges are biting any exposed skin so both Me & Jack are dressed in pretty much everything we own! Its a shame that all you lot are probably sleeping as despite the fact that we are in the middle of nowhere we have wifi so this would have been a great place to have skyped everyone. Its really nice having all the birds doing their summer birdsong - & only 3 weeks till christmas - whats that all about?!

Today we managed to sleep in - this is despite me being woken up by some bloke coughing his guts up in the corridor at 6am. This coughing fit was the followed by the beautiful sound of puking from the bathroom across the hall. Next said chap was out front having a ciggie & doing the same coughing. Both me & Jack had a bad nights sleep in Wellington due to the really high winds - as we were on the top floor it sounded like the roof was going to blow off at points! School girl error was that my ear plugs were lying somewhere in my rucsac down on the floor. Jackie drove yesterday so we had various fits as the ferry wouldn't let us on as soon as we arrived, then of course we were last on & the crowning moment was that we were put on the train deck & jack had to reverse on - all highly amusing! Passed some of the famous Marlborough vineyards on the way here - really pretty with mountains in the background, vineyards in the foreground & then a very turquoise sea to the right of us. Nelson is a nice wee town on the seaside - bit artsy & way too many craft shops for my liking - still its in an enviable position & is probably a really nice place to live. Have discovered a nice chain of coffee shops called Columbas. The one in Nelson is off Hardy Street on Fashion square. They do nice coffee, real Tea & also do breakfasts alongside the usual cakes etc. As breakfast was so nice we got them to pack up some lunch for us to take away. Nelson Restaurant that was nice Cafe Affair - good pizzas, pasta, stonebake meats.

The drive from Nelson to Marahua on the edge of Abel Tasman park took around an hour. This small collection of houses around the beach is really pleasant.

Had a nice walk on the infamous coast walkway. This is a 5 day hike that takes you through the national park. We only wanted to do a wee walk just to stretch the legs; anyway my legs were more than stretched as Jackie attempted to break the land speed record from Marahua to Appletree Beach! No looking at scenery or stopping to admire perhaps some of the wildlife - nope a hamstring stretching inner thigh twanging sprint took place along the path for the next 2 hours - how enjoyable!!!

Abel Tasman Kayak firm MSK, 0800 80 80 18 will also pick you up from Nelson on their big orange bus for $25rtn. Our trip cost $315 for 2 full days kayaking, fully catered
& HB accom on aquapackers, water taxi back from Bark Bay.

Met up with our guide & the rest of our group at 8.30am for the coast cruiser 2 days kayaking trip. Day was absolutely beautiful with little wind. This was a nice relief as the weather had been really windy in the last few days & there were also quite a few clouds around. We were given 2 person kayaks with the person in the back having to steer using foot peddles connected to the rudder; this was to be Jackies job on day1. Our guide was a young chap called Isaac & we only had another 2 people booked to come on the same trip - helpfully they were both called Nick! Nick1 had been travelling for 2 years & is shortly returning home to London. Nick2 is from Lake Tahoe in California & is travelling around NZ for a couple of months. Although they had only known each other for 5 days the pair of them made a good double act with Nick1 cracking most of the jokes & Nick2 giggling away. At one point in the morning we were commenting on how scardy cat the seagulls are over here - never seen such pathetic behaviour from a seagull - they run away from you for goodness sake! We were saying that in Scotland the Seagulls will take food right out of your hand if you're not watching! Anyway Nick1 commented that the seagulls in Scotland were really hard & that if you pealed back the feathers you would actually find tattoos! It was a "had to be there" moment but was really funny at the time!
Within ten minutes of our trip starting Isaac spotted a Blue Penguin. These birds are the smallest penguin in the world & also really rare so it was great to see one bobbing along in the water. We also had a couple of seals swim along side us which was also really cool. The kayaks allow you to get really close to everything without actually disturbing them so all in all a great experience. The scenery in the park is amazing, we had morning coffee on a deserted beach - all very civilised. This was only at around 10.30am & already it was warm enough to go for a swim. Water was lovely! Had lunch on another deserted beach. Finished my very nice chicken roll & ate the top part of my muffin. Ten seconds later the wind had blown it over & obviously it had landed right in the sand. Any chance of rescuing it was quickly scuppered by the Seagull that swooped in & swallowed pretty much the whole lot in one go! The rest of the afternoon was spent paddling into a nice lagoon - our right rudder cord did break though so we were stranded for a wee while until Isaac came & fixed it somehow - just as well that didn't happen out in the open sea! Final beach of the day was Ancorage Bay where our accom was based. This beach is in a perfect setting in a sweeping golden bay. All you can see is turquoise sea, golden sand & forrest clad mountains - quite amazing. It was rather busy though with loads of kayak groups unloading & the water taxis taking both Kayakers & walkers back to Marahua. I was quite amazed at how many Kayaks they can fit on the back of the water taxis. The 4 of us lay on the beach & watched what seemed to be everyone else running around moving kayaks & packing bags - its great to be on a long holiday!

We were staying at aquapackers which is a fantastic idea of a place! The owner used to run boat/fishing trips up & down the coast & then decided to pack that in buy a different type of boat, moor it in a stunning setting & then convert the 2 legs of the catamaran into 7 people dorm rooms. The boat also has 2 private doubles. Chris the owner is a fab chap & seems to epitomise the Kiwi outdoor male. Fed up with the rubbish that the local BBQ store was selling he made his own steel BBQ, he has also made a smoker out of 2 old beer kegs, so that any fish he catches he can smoke fresh himself. I'd encourage anyone in this area to stay here for a night as it is a magical place when all the water taxis have gone. Included in the room price is dinner & brekkie.

Dinner was a BBQ with my first ever "snags" and beef steak. They had also made a fabulous vegetarian pie. There is also an honesty bar where you can help yourself to beer, wine or coke & simply write in the book what you have had & then pay the next day. You are not chained to the boat and any point Chris or one of his crew will happily take you across to the beach. The beach is only 100 or so meters away & to get back you simply stand by the stake in the beach & wave at the boat; again someone will be across in a jiffy to pick you up. The water around the boat is deep so jumping off the roof isn't an issue. Nick1 decided to jump off the roof of the boat - a brave move but I have to say he was out of the water as quick as he was in it!

The boat cant have been far off full but it didnt feel at all crowded, there was even an older couple staying in one of the doubles. Chris couldnt have been more helpful & even set up an outdoor fire thing for us all so we could sit up on the top deck watching the night time decent & the stars come out. This spot is quite amazing but several people have told us that is gets mad busy in the summer holidays (mid Dec-Feb) with over 300 kayaks on the water, loads of boats moored & water skiing etc etc. I'm so glad we got to see the place with no-one here.

Next day our water taxi came to pick us up - a fun 10 minutes later we met up with our new group for the day.
Sally was our guide from Nova Scotia in Canada, Mark from N Carolina, Nadine from Germany & a chap who was half English/half Brazilian & lived in Egypt who I cant quite remember the name of! I was on steering duty so at the back of the Kayak. A very different day from the day before - much more laid back. We didn't really see any sea life at all, but we did stop at an amazing beach for lunch called Mosquito bay. This is only accessible by water so on a normal day out with of holidays would be amazing; needless to say as it was Saturday we had to share it with another 30 or so kayakers but still there was plenty of room for everyone. Jackie & I tried to educate the group on how to make tea - especially the American who took it well! Our guide was really great, the group was fun & the day was yet again beautiful. I was really quite sad to leave the kayaks & head back to Nelson. The water taxi trip back was fabulous with the driver crashing over the waves - as Jackie was by the side she did get rather wet - so wish I had my camera with me at that! What was odd was when we arrived back at Marahua & rather than us pile out of the water taxi at the back we actually ended up being towed out of the water by a tractor & driven all of 200 meters along the road to the Kayaking headquarters - very odd!

Was absolutely nackered when we got back to Nelson so it was a quick tea (complete with an attack on my feet by the victious black flies) and then into my bed for 9am.

Drive down to Franz Joseph took 6 hours & finally we arrived in the NZ that doesnt look like Scotland! We are staying at the YHA & looking down the road we can see Franz Joseph glacier - hopefully in a couple of days time we will be on the glacier looking down on the YHA!
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ma-and-pa on

Wow! A plethora of photos!
My goodness you have certainly excelled yourself - the photos and videos are magnificent, totally overwhelming.

It was great to see you and Jackie again, although she could only hear one side of the conversation. Plenty of midnight oil was burnt along with the liquid refreshment. You obviously had a great kayaking trip with great company and food.

Covering up against midgies? - are you not immune after all the Glen Coe trips! - mind you being bit on the feet is a bit much. Nice to see someone can push you on the walking front - you'll be joining Paul on Lossiemouth beach next!!

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