Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park

Day 1 : Thursday February 11, 2010

Another early start to the day, with the bus leaving Kaikoura around 830.  We had about a 3 hour bus ride to Picton, a stop off point for people leaving on a ferry to the North Island, or coming in from a Ferry. I spend most of the time on the bus sleeping.  Going to start drinking coffee in the early mornings because the upcoming bus rides towards the southern part of the country are supposed to be spectacular.

The bus got into the town of Nelson around 3 oclock.  After checkin into my hostel I headed towards Woolworths to stock up on food for the next couple of days.  After that I made way toward the downtown of Nelson, not much goin on here but a pretty good downtown scene with shops, cafes and restaurants.

From there I headed towards a nearby walking track that led to the center of New Zealand.  Yes, the center of New Zealand.  I guess geographers pinpointed the actually center of the country, it was right in Nelson.  Before I started the actaully walking track, I made a stop on the way at Queen's Gardens.  Nice little garden/park for the public to enjoy.

From there I made way to the track that took about a 30 minute incline to make it to the lookout of the city and the center of New Zealand.

Weather was not too terrible today but still a bit cloudy.  On ideal days, this lookout can provide views of all the great surrounding cities, national parks, and nearby mountains.  The view itself of Nelson was still pretty good and standing on the actual center point of New Zealand felt pretty special.

Back at the hostel I prepared myself one of my best pasta dishes of the trip.  The reason why is at the hostel they have free spices to use as well as garlic powder, really made a difference to my pasta sauce. Definitely kicked things up a notch. Also, my fresh baguette was a nice addition to the meal, as well as my personal liter of milk.

Called it a night early as I had a big day ahead

Day 2

Today I embarked on a day trip to Abel Tasman National Park.  The park was about an hour bus drive from Nelson. Weather was not ideal today but will get into that a bit later.  The bus stopped just outside the entrance of the national park in a town called Kaiteriteri.  From there I boarded a water taxi that cruised around several of the beautiful bays of the national park.

It then dropped my off at Melders Bay where I began my section of the coastal track. The entire coastal track is around 52km and is usually a 3-5 day hike. I basically cut it down to about a 15 km, 6 hour one day hike.  As I got off the water taxi, the rain was just coming down. As the boat retreated back out to sea, I was left on this beach, surrounded by a lush tropical forest with absolutely nothing else but me and nature.  Felt like being on some reality survivor show.

Anyhow, regardless of how hard it was raining I was excited and eager to start one hell of a hike.  As I entered the walking track I couldn't help but smile.  That smile might have stayed the entire 6 hour hike. Probably the best nature walk I have ever tramped on. I'm not really sure what it was either. I pretty much was in the same forest for 6 hours, seeing the same fern tree after fern tree, and moss all around the rocks and streams.  Maybe it was the crisp New Zealand air, or the sound of rain trickling down from the forest canopy. More likely is just the fact that I was owning it in one of New Zealands most beautiful national parks. There were a pretty good amount of people on the hike, but not the amount you get annoyed about. Today was definitely not a day for the ipod. Pure wilderness and nature and the great outdoors was what today was all about. The birds seemed to be loving the rain as much as I was. I'm sure the trees were too. The raindrops glistening from the tips of the fern with occasional sunlight coming it was a pretty cool sight.

About halfway into my hike I stopped to enjoy my packed meal for the day. 1 banana, 1 peanut butter and jelly sandwhich, 1 ham, cream cheese and tomato sandwhich, and barbecue kettle chips. Probably the best mountain hike food you could think of. I enjoyed it heaps. Afterwards, I was regevunated and ready to continue onward. As the name suggests, the track carved along the coast providing some glorious views of the many golden beached bays and several off shore islands.

Although the rain made for an epic walk thru the forest, it did hinder some of the lookout views.  Thankfully, with about 2 hours of my hike left, the rain had stopped and the sun was out. Its been said that the park is beautiful in all sorts of weather, and I had the great opportunity to find that out on my own.  The statement definitely holds true.  As far as the walking track, the rain definitely added to the character of the track. Personally, not sure if there is anything quite better than an actual rainforest. As far as when the sun came out, it was pretty hot and was a big factor to my sweat and overall b.o. smell at the end of the trip, BUT the color of the water once the sun was out was breathtaking. A huge difference from just a couple hours before with the clouds overhead.

Almost every bay had a track leading down to it from the main track, so it was possible to relax on the golden beaches and enjoy the water. By the time the sun came out tho, I was pretty short on time and did not want to miss my only bus back to Nelson. I made it down to some beaches but never had the chance to swim. I think the water is pretty cold anyhow.

Great day though, will always remember this. The actual walking track was great, well marked and not too steep in any parts. It was only the tracks that led out to lookouts and beaches that actually made the heart beat a bit faster.  One of the better parts of the track was the suspension bridge over Falls River.  Nothing to high or dangerous but I think everyone gets a little excitement over suspension bridges. there was an older lady behind me that had some pretty big troubles crossing it, i found it pretty entertaining. She was a bit on the heavy side so that might have been why.

I made it to my bus pick up point in the town of Marahua with some time to spare. After atleast a 15 kilometer tramp I was knackered. I picked up a fruit smoothie at the cafe and it may have been the best smoothie I ever had.  Oh man was it tasty. I have noticed lately tho that New Zealand drinks do seem to taste pretty good though, especially the milk.

Stoked on this day, Sweet As

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