Adventuring in Abel Tasman, and other stories

A few weeks ago, we stayed with some kind Warm Showers hosts in a small town called Tua Marina (and, in fact, left our bikes and a large fraction of our stuff in their garage). One half of said hosting partnership, Rene, spent some time extolling the virtues of an area called Golden Bay, passionately describing the sense of weight lifting off his shoulders as he drove there over the infamous Takaka hill. So, here we are in Golden Bay. And it’s lovely.

Let’s rewind a tiny bit, to get you up to date. I last wrote from Fox Glacier, wayyyyyy back down to West Coast. It was 8 degrees and raining! The following day, we hopped back onto the bus and, after a brief detour (gotta love the Great Sights bus!) to take this photo of Mount Cook:

we headed North in search of sunshine. It’s a blinking long way to Nelson from Fox, so we also broke our journey in the ever-lovely Punakaiki, home to the infamous pancake rocks, and also a lot of splendid riverine scenery:

Alas, as is the case with SO MANY of the Department of Conservation tracks at the moment, we could only enjoy the beautiful Porarari River for a short distance. Cyclone Gita strikes again! A good stopover nonetheless.

Back on the bus for one more (very scenic) day, and we’d made it all the way to Nelson and (we are assured) New Zealand’s sunniest region. And there our bus adventure pauses for a couple of weeks….because, as Facebook fans will already be aware, we are now in possession of a motorcar! Toot toot!

First things first: day number 1 involved a short tour of some of Nelson’s excellent wineries which we enjoyed not only for the wine, but also for views like this one from Brightwater:

We did eventually manage to drag ourselves away from lovely Nelson (and our hostel with its free chocolate pudding and ice cream every night at 8pm) and headed for Takaka Hill. Up and over we went, thank goodness the road has now reopened after a long stint being fixed after….guess what…..Cyclone Gita. The views were pretty good:

And I’m pretty sure I felt the weight lifting as Rene had promised. A brief stopover to check we really can still camp in the Southern-Hemisphere equivalent of late October, and we headed into Abel Tasman national park.

Abel Tasman. I have actually been before, back in 2002, on a kayaking trip with Loz and Anna. I remember it being very beautiful, but no real details, although you can’t visit New Zealand without being bombarded with pictures of the place. It’s certainly on every backpacker’s checklist, and the sheer conveyor of people heading there in day trips from our hostel back in Nelson certainly supported this popularity theory. This nearly put me off from going at all…..but having read reports of the north being much quieter, and recognising that it really is the very end of the season, we went ahead. And were glad we did, as the huge, popular campsite wasn’t too busy after all:

It was certainly no hardship to spend two nights at Totaranui bay:

From where we hiked both North and South, and discovered that it is indeed possible to ‘make’ steamed pudding and custard on a camping stove:

Keen to explore further, we headed back along the horrendously bumpy gravel road (not sure if I’ve mentioned New Zealand’s roads before? 😉 to head right into the Northern reaches of the park. The famous Abel Tasman coast track does in fact go up here, but the water taxis do not, meaning that most people don’t bother. In addition to this, as the linking section of the track is currently closed and requiring a significant detour (giddy Gita causing landslips once again), we did not anticipate the place being overrun. And overrun it certainly was not, in fact once the handful of day hikers had departed, we had the rather idyllic Mutton Cove and campsite all to ourselves:

aside from a few feathered friends and some gorgeous seal pups playing in the shallows. It was a little on the chilly side, however! We were pretty warm in the tent, with full thermals and our new £5 blanket, but watching sunrise was downright freezing. A small price to pay for this I suppose:

The short hike out felt a bit on the strenuous side, presumably due to four nights camping rather than the pitifully small amount of walking, so it was only fair that we rewarded ourselves when we got back to the relative civilisation of Takaka:

It’s fair to say that things are pretty golden so far here in Golden Bay. We’ve been taking things very easy at our friendliest hostel to date, have to say I am all in favour of the absence of internet in the main building as everyone actually talks to each other, and the hosts are pretty cool too:

That’s Willy the cat. There’s also another cat (although yet to be spotted) and two hilariously soppy dogs. The human hosts can’t do enough for their guests, hosted a ‘pot luck’ supper last night, and provide delicious muesli for everyone in the mornings. It’s really wonderful here.

Tomorrow we’re moving further north and right into the sticks, for beachy days, glow-wormy nights and composting toilets (although I confess we are treating ourselves to a double room after all that camping and an extremely ‘cosy’ bunk arrangement here!

As it’s ANZAC day tomorrow, the supermarket is closed all morning so Ed is currently pacing up and down in an attempt to get me out of the internet room and into the car to go shopping (again). It would not do to go hungry now would it. So I’d better go. If you haven’t had enough of my photos, there are more on Facebook of course 🙂

Next update might involve some more tramping in the mountains – please pray to the weather gods on our behalf!! Forecast currently for a prolonged period of rain, let’s hope they’re wrong for once……

PS I have given up with my usual editor, and reverted to my old friend foe wordpress in the interests of giving it another go.  Please let me know if the formatting is screwy!!

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