Where two next?

Antipodean travelogue through the eyes of two - one textile and one building lover. It'll be hard to differentiate the two!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Abel Tasman National Park (5)

So the day arrived for the big trek (or tramp as it's called here) in the Abel Tasman National Park. The Abel Tasman is one of the most popular National Parks in NZ and is accessible year round. Annette was a little nervous that she wouldn't be able for the distance (the route we chose was 14km) but she had no problems, except that she saw fit to give both herself and myself a good fright midway through the journey! It's not easy being responsible for your little sister - even when you are both adults! More on that to follow.

We left Nelson early that morning for our 75 min drive to Marahau. We decided to avail of the "Dine & Walk" option from Abel Tasman Taxi Company. The boat departed at 9am and by 10.30am we were at our departure point for the trek. We were brought by Aqua Taxi to Bark Bay and the plan was to walk the 3 or 4 hour (depending on whose opinion you took) journey to Awaroa Bay. At Awaroa Bay you can buy lunch at Awaroa Lodge - a very nice reward for our walking effort. So that was the plan, the water taxi left us at Bark Bay at 10.30am and was due to collect us at Awaroa Bay at 2.30pm. We had been advised that the tramp would take 3 hours and we would then have an hour for lunch at Awaroa.
Our water taxi.Leaving firm ground behind us.A split rock in the sea.
The tide was not in our favour - this pic looks better in the postcard when the tide is in and the rock is jutting from the sea.
We even spotted some seals enroute.We got to see some of the other bays along the route to our destination. Most of the other trampers on board seemed to be taking the shorter tramp route options! Mmm I wondered why. We arrived at Bark Bay and commenced the tramp from the beach into the forest. The start of the trek climbs steeply to a low saddle. You then wind over several inland ridges before dropping sharply to Tonga Quarry. The first Department of Conservation signage we encountered informed us that Awaroa Bay was 4 hours away. I've been on a few other tramps in NZ at this stage and to be fair the DOC walk times are generally quite accurate if not a little on the generous side. I was a little concerned about the timing but thought that it wouldn't be a problem, we were both reasonably fit and I felt we could probably be quicker than that. Anyhow we enjoyed the scenery around us.

We had a beautiful day for our walk - the temps were in the early 20's - quite spectacular weather for early May in NZ. Our first rest stop was at Tonga Quarry, 3.5km into the trek, I can't recall exactly how long it took us to get here but I do recall looking at the DOC signage here and working out that we were already 15mins behind the advised time. Yikes, that meant that if their 4 hour tramp time was accurate we were in trouble. We decided to take the shortest of breaks here and persevere. The unexpectedly hot weather meant that we had far too much clothes with us so we shed a layer or two.

Our view as we walked through the forest. Not long after stopping to take this pic we hurried along as we were still trying to make up time. As we walked on high with steep slopes falling away to the sea below Annette tripped on a rock and came flying for me!!!! Luckily I was walking ahead of her and was able to stop her fall. Luckily also she fell forward and not to the side of the rather steep drop. We were both a little shaken after that and really getting concerned about our progress or lack of it and far from wondering if we would have time for lunch we were just concerned that we'd make it back in time for the water taxi. We still had some way to go.We emerged from the forest to once again walk on the beach. This time the 1km long Onetahuti beach. We saw some shags!

And this cool sculpture-like pile of driftwood.

At the end of the beech we had to cross a tidal body of water which entailed momentarily ditching the boots and socks and led to some itching misery for me for the following 5 days!!!! Yes, the sandflies got me good. I'm always the first to suffer from mosquito bites and now it seems sandflies have the same effect - ugh.
Feeling somewhat pressurised to maintain a good pace we moved along enjoying the peace and solitude of the walk and the beautiful views in silence - well if huffing and puffing are silent. We finally reached some signage that encouraged us into thinking we had pulled back lots of time and could maybe take it a little handier. It indicated we had more than an hour left to get to Awaroa Lodge. Somehow though we got there much sooner - there really was an anomaly in the signage and we then felt almost somehow cheated, we were there! We managed to get to the Lodge in exactly 3 hours - just as the water taxi had recommended.
Here's the signage we were happy to see. And here's my fabulous lunch, a warm lamb salad with feta, spinach and sundried tomatoes - yummy.
And since the food was so good there, we had to share a desert.

Fed and watered we awaited our water taxi to bring us back to Marahau. Adventures over for another day.

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