Thursday, April 10, 2014

Abel Tasman National Park

April 1st and 2nd 2014

Today I got up at 6:30am to catch the bus to Abel Tasman National Park. It was supposed to pick me up at 7:25am but the bus driver forgot about my stop, so by the time I called in and got it straightened out, he was out of town already and had to come back to get me. I think it was around 8am when I finally boarded the bus. But I forgave him since he seriously made up for his slip later (which I will soon explain). 

First things first: The Lady and the Tramp (seriously, it's not called hiking down here, it's called tramping):

The purple backpack is a loaner pack from the family I'm staying with in Richmond. The bus driver said it was a "good Kiwi pack" (whatever that means). It fit me fine except the hip clip would pop out every so often for no reason. But most of the time it was fine. 

Richmond is only 50km from the trailhead. Even with the bus delay, I was on the track and tramping by 9:30. 

I am only hiking (tramping!) for a day and a half, which means that I will catch a water taxi tomorrow in Awaroa. This is the upside to hiking a beachside trail: you can be transported in or out at any point along the shore. 

The trail is very lovely, with wonderful views of the sea, lots of green water, clear rivers and very calm. I would have wished for a less overcast day, but it was the perfect temperature for hiking so I can't complain. 

I met 2 young Colorado men who are hiking the entire path - 42km which is supposed to take 3 days. They are very disorganized and barely have any gear ("We didn't know we'd be coming to New Zealand so we left all our outdoor gear at home" was the excuse I was given). They also figure that anything called a Great Walk (which is what the Abel Tasman Coast Track is) can't be as extreme as the hiking in Colorado. I would beg to differ. Their names are Matt and Pat. If you look closely you can see Matt's camera in the picture below.  

There is a part of the path that you can only cross at low tide. If the tide is high, you have to take the inland route which is 3km longer. Pat tried to cross at high tide and got all his clothes wet, so that when I met him he was actually hiking shirtless. Then they had to double back and take the inland route anyway. I find these guys very entertaining. 

It might be relevant at this juncture to mention that Matt and Pat knew a surprising amount of facts about the laws surrounding the legalization of marijuana in their home state. 

More scenic views and a swing bridge:

I had booked a night at a campsite called Bark Bay. Because of the hectic, all-out itinerary that Matt and Pat (Mat and Patt?) have decided to follow, they were scheduled to stay in the next campsite another 6km down the trail, amounting to 8.5 hours of walking on their first day. But due to blisters and a general lack of preparedness, they ended up staying in Bark Bay, too. The ranger didn't care that they were staying at a different campsite than the one they'd booked. He was chill - bare feet and short shorts and just basically loving his life. We called him Ranger Danger and/or Ranger Dan, but found out later that his name is actually Steve. 

Bark Bay is a great little campsite sandwiched by the ocean:

When the tide comes in, it creates a little peninsula around the campers. 

It was a nice evening at camp. There were lots of other campers at this campsite, many who had kayaked in. There must have been at least thirty people already there when I walked in. I'm usually one of the last people to show up to camp and except for Matt and Pat, today was no exception. I cooked myself some pasta and some instant mushroom soup while Matt and Pat ate cold snack food for dinner (they didn't bring a campstove or cooking pots). Then we joined some people who had made a campfire and stayed up late eating chocolate, drinking apple tea spiked with whiskey and talking with some ladies from Indiana (Hoosiers!), a woman from Ireland, a newlywed guy from Melbourne whose bride had already retired for the evening, and a German guy from N├╝renburg. I went to bed at around 10:30 and was woken sometime later by this motley crew, who Matt and Pat had dragged over to our corner of the campsite to look at the bioluminescent algae on the beach. (They had pitched their sorry-ass $16 tent directly next to mine.)

The next day, I woke up and made myself the usual: a big pot of oatmeal. It was delicious, with almonds and sultanas (golden raisins). A cup of instant coffee preceded and followed the meal. Just as I was washing up, Matt and Pat emerged from their cocoon. I left camp at 10am, before they had packed up, and didn't see them again. They were planning to hike the whole path, so I hope they made it. I gave them my number so maybe I'll hear from them again. 

I had to catch my boat and had 5 hours to complete 4 hours of hiking to get to the pickup point. It was hard because I kept having to stop for snacks and pictures and hoped I would still make it. But I'd say the views were well worth the stress from the time constraint. 

Awaroa was closer than I'd reckoned. The pickup point was right in front of the Awaroa Lodge, which was the nearest thing in Awaroa (the hut was an extra hour away). The lodge also had coffee and beer on offer. Since I was early by over an hour, I had time to sit and have a drink. I picked beer since it was already after lunchtime. I walked into the lodge and ran into the Hoosiers from the previous nights' campfire. They were also working through a round of beer, so I joined them. Then we went to wait for our boat:

Not a bad waiting spot. 

The boat was a small motorboat with an entertaining skipper. He made several stops to show us dolphins, sting rays, baby seals and a split rock. 

We ended up back in Marahau (the village at the trailhead) after an hour and a half of touring around in the motorboat and picking people up and dropping them off. I kept nodding off during the boat trip, which was a shame since the scenery was so beautiful. 

I also nodded off during the bus ride back to Richmond, which resulted in me forgetting my sunglasses on the bus. Noooooo! I just bought those stupid things! I called the booking hotline and they called the bus driver to arrange a drop-off for the next morning on the way out of town. I guess I would be waiting for the bus yet again early in the morning. Better than paying $20 for another pair of cheapo sunglasses. Sean (the bus driver) delivered like a champ though... which is why I forgave him for forgetting me on the first day!


Post a Comment

<< Home