Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January 14th, 2009 - Nelson, New Zealand to Awaroa Lodge in the Abel Tasman National Park

This morning we drove up to Kaiteriteri (you get closest to the local pronunciation by saying “kai-titty-titty”) to catch an AquaTaxi into the Abel Tasman National Park. While there are a few roads into the park, most locations are only accessible from the water and a few companies have popped up to serve the purpose with set stops and times at certain beaches. The drivers swing the rear of the boat around towards the beach, drop an anchor off the front, then jam it into reverse while lifting the outboard. Once passengers have embarked or disembarked via a ramp slanting into the shallow water, the driver winches the front anchor in, thus pulling the boat off the beach to where he can drop the outboard back in the water. The drivers are also very knowledgeable about the park. On our hour long ride into the park, we slowed down to watch fur seals on Tonga Island and took a few detours into inlets like Fall River and Shag Harbour that the boats can only get to at high tide.

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

Formed in 1942, Abel Tasman National Park was named after Dutch captain who had been sent by his shipping company to find the southern continent in the mid 1600's. At that time, the idea was that the Earth had to be symmetrical and there had to be a Terra Australis, or southern land mass. The first land he found he named Tasmania after himself (that little devil) and then sailed up the east coast of New Zealand. At the northern end of the South Island, he found a large protected harbor. When the local Maori saw him coming with huge white sails unfurled, they blew a note on a conch-like instrument they used to mark significant occurrences. Unfortunately, when someone aboard one of Tasman's ships grabbed a flute he was carrying and echoed the note back, the Maori understood that this meeting was significant to the strange visitors as well and took this as a challenge. When Tasman sent a row boat to carry a message between two of his ships, the Maori ambushed them and killed 3 men. A fourth was said to be last seen in a pot of boiling water on the beach. Tasman left immediately and named the harbor Murderers Bay. The tourist authorities later decided Golden Bay was better for business. Interestingly, Tasman never set foot on New Zealand.

After dropping our overnight bags with the porter (an ATV pulling a trailer) on the beach that leads to the Awaroa Lodge, we rode the boat a few coves north to Totaranui. From that beach and campground (one of the spot accessible via a dirt road), we walked a little farther north to Anapai Bay then turned south on the track back towards Awaroa. The track wound across beaches and over the headlands between them offering peakaboo views ahead and behind of white sand and blue green water through a frame of ferns and native trees. The plan was to hit an estuary just north of Awaroa that would be shallow enough to walk across about two hours before or after low tide. We made it just about the right time, switched to flip flops and plodded across probably two hundred yards of old clam shells, wading at times up to the knees.

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

Crisped by a long day in the sun and around an 8 mile hike, we crashed for a nap before dinner and then for the first time on the trip, excused ourselves early from the usual wine-soaked travel-story-topping conversations at the dinner table. In the room, we watched season 1, episode 1 of Weeds on Ann's iPhone and passed out promptly.

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