Thursday, January 15, 2009

January 15th, 2009 - Awaroa Lodge in Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

The next morning we walked about an hour south to Oneatahuti Bay to meet the guide from Kaiteriteri Kayaks. The boats and gear had been brought in by AquaTaxi and were ready for us on the beach. We met our guide, a Maori who told us to call him Alfe though he also told us his complete name which includes information about his parents, where he's from, the common trees in the area and the closest river and took about 15 seconds to say.

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

On the kayak trip, we got a closer look at Shag Harbour including a cave that just fit our four double kayaks where Alfe said local Maori used to hide from their enemies. He said he coasted in there recently without looking and found a large bull seal on the beach inside. Not happy with his path to the ocean being blocked by Alfe's kayak, the big male charged and found a narrow passageway out.

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

After leaving Shag Harbour, Alfe led us out into the open water and had us “raft up” with all four kayaks side by side. He then unpacked a 10 x 10 ft nylon tarp, one side of which he attached to the paddles of the rear outside people with the other side held by the front outside people. With the wind at our backs and the rear paddles braced up, the makeshift sail filled with air and carried us southward to Tonga Island.

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

The marine reserve in Abel Tasman is home to a small colony of 200 or so NZ fur seals. Many of them live on the rocks around Tonga Island with males fighting for their 50 feet or so of territory. Depending on their size, they take on about 5 females as mates, giving them a solid 4 weeks or so after giving birth before mating again. After the mating season, the males take off to various other colonies including one up on the Farewell Spit at the tip of the South Island.

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

After a long day on the water, we crashed out for a while before joining the group on the lodge patio for drinks. Before dinner, we walked down to some wetlands nearby and a small boardwalk where some kids were dangling raw meat in the water to attract the eels that lived there. The eels would come right up and grab the meet, sometimes thrashing around to twist off a piece. Ann was the only one of our group who would get in the act, eventually attracting “the big one” (probably three inches in diameter and three feet long).

That night, we were able to get on a wireless connection to check some email before getting a decent night's sleep.

Seen on one of the rented graffiti vans: A man would be interested in a woman's mind if it bounced gently as she walked.

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

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