15.05.2013 - 16.05.2013 15 °C
We were eager to get going and not miss the boat so left the campsite in plenty of time to get back to the pick up point. We busied ourself with computer stuff until our transport arrived. I wasn't expecting to be picked up in the carpark by the boat but we were: pitched on the back of its trailer we all boarded our corresponding boats depending on where we were being dropped off, and then the tractor pulled us the short distance to the beach at which point the tractor driver hopped out and got in the boat and another guy drove the tractor until the water was deep enough to release us and the boat on our way.
En route a number of points of interest were pointed out: apple rock which was a round circular rock shaped just like an apple which looked like it had been cut in half, a small New Zealand fur seal colony and a point on the walk we had to beach of. The views were as usual spectacular, the beaches with their clean white sands, clear blue waters and endless forest surrounds were so perfect they didn't look real.
We were soon at run drop off point: Barks Bay from here we were to head south to anchorage which would take just over 3 hours for our pick up at 3:30, we had plenty of time. We set off amidst a small group of people who had disembarked at this point. We were soon spread out along the route and therefore quite alone in this wonderful wilderness. The tree covered cliffs didn't give the best views out to sea but did provide an ever changing landscape of New Zealand at its wildest. We chatted as we walked, stopping frequently and taking the numerous detours available to points of interest until we reached a clearing and beach.
Although Abel Tasman is a national park, it had only been given park status in the last 50 years, before that it had, technically been farmed (though not in the tractor and crop sense which we would imagine) people had also build houses on the 100 lots which were sold in the area. When the area was given park status the houses were allowed to stay, in the last seven years they have gone up in value by 500% and looking at their surroundings it was no wonder, the views were that of desert island tales.
We stopped just outside a small hamlet of these houses to eat lunch, looking out across the beach and bay as a sea transport company loaded an old caravan onto its deck, an old couple stood by watching, presumably the owners who live in the park; only accessible by boat these houses used to run on diesel but now use solar and battery powered and act as an ideal retreat for a holiday home or retirement pad.
We took our time over lunch: we could see our pick up point in the distance and with nearly 3 hours to go and only 3 miles left we were confident we had plenty of time. After lunch we continued our walk, stopping at toilets on the way, the bay between us and our pick up had 2 route options depending on tidal levels. The tide was high, as the boat driver had explained earlier, and so we needed to take the longer route which took the high ground and bridge. We took another couple of detours en route to view a stream and a good view point, before reaching our final destination: the beach at anchorage. We still had 45 minutes until pick up, the sun was out in the clear blue sky so we decided to have a paddle in the clear blue inviting waters. It was a bit cold to as the least! Thankfully it was only my ankles and feet which were getting wet! Loads of fish eggs were being washed up in the waters too: we found out later it is prime season for this. We were poking at the sweet corn like clumps of white jelly like children, trying to figure out if they were jelly fish until Martin took the plunge and stuck his finger in a load of them!
We sat and read until the boat arrived, sunning ourselves and swatting the occasional sand fly which tried, and in some cases succeeded, to bite us. We had to wade in to the boat which was fine as we both still had our feet out from our quick dip. There were loads of people taking the boat back, even a kayak was tied to the back as we made our way in the beautiful afternoon sun back to our van.
Again we were pulled onto the trailer whilst we sat in the boat and were driven back to the carpark. It was now 4:30; time had flown by but we had enjoyed a wonderful day and the weather had continued to be kind to us. We drove straight to Nelson, situated about an hour away we arrived in perfect time to make tea and then walk into town to have a quick look around. I was quite disappointed with the town really: it boasts the title of the most 'liveable' town in New Zealand and the area around the cathedral was very pretty but elsewhere just seemed quite industrial and practical, it maybe these are features which make it liveable!
We called into the Vic for a drink, taking in the atmosphere and features of the old building (well old by New Zealand standards) as we sat by the fire. We walked back to the campsite, loitering briefly outside McDonald's on order to book the ferry for the following days crossing back to the north island before arrived home for an early night: all that fresh air and walking had left us feeling that nice healthy tired.