Day 159: Our “Triathlon” Day Three

Sat. 19th January 2013

Split Apple RockAfter the cycling two days ago and the water leg (rafting) yesterday, today we are on foot. The Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle water taxi service runs four times a day in the summer along the coast of the park and stops at various bays. They also have excursions and we opt for the Seals, Bridges and Walk trip. We duly drive the short way up the coast to Kaiteriteri and park up ready to catch the first service of the day at 9:15am. The shuttle will take us to Torrent Bay and leave us there giving us time to walk for a couple of hours to Medlands Bay where we will be collected and returned to Kaiteriteri.

Taking coffee too farAfter the obligatory coffee stop, in our van not on the coffee trip boat (see photo), we are almost ready to catch the Sea Shuttle. First we need to sort footwear as we discover that the landing in Torrent Bay will be a “wet landing”. Although the weather is dull with a chilly wind we opt for our walking sandals. On the way to Torrent Bay we are pleasantly surprised that rather than full speed ahead to get there, the boat slows to show us some of the sights. First to show us Split Apple Rock – unsurprisingly, the Maori and scientific explanations for how it split differ – and then cruises slowly past Adele Island where the seals as on the rocks with their young (no photos allowed we have already OD’d on seals).

View back over the coastlineOn arriving at Torrent Bay the boat stops about 70 metres from the beach and lowers its ramp into the water. We are told that was as far as the boat could go due to the shallow water so we descended down the ramp. The water came to above my knees as we waded to the shore and so were grateful in our choice of footwear.

Path cut through the rocksThe footpath headed off along the beach and then inland past some holiday homes and into the trees. These houses were built before the park was established so were allowed to remain. Our walk is only a small part of the Abel Tasman track from Marahau to Awaroa which usually takes three days. At times we see nobody else on the path and we feel in the middle of nowhere, at other times, processions of backpackers fully loaded with tents and roll mats march by briskly as they try to reach their campsite by the end of the day. The path is well trodden and impossible to miss, in parts the route has been blasted out of the rock face in the steep mountainside.

Swingbridge from landIt was interesting to cross over the swingbridge which we had kayaked under yesterday, especially as the tide was out today. We could see the masses of rocks and dead trees on the riverbed which were completely covered and hidden yesterday. There were four courageous kayakers who were weaving their way in the shallow water. The difference between high and low tide was quite noticeable so we now know why we had a lazy lunch first yesterday before heading this way, waiting for the water to rise.

Kayaks weaving through at low tide

As we had plenty of time before our return journey we took a detour to Sandfly Bay scrambling down the rocky path to sea level. We sat on the rocks in the sunshine watching the world go by. It was good to be in the sunshine after so much rain. From here it was back up the steep path to the main route and just a short distance on to Medlands Bay.

Inquisitive but too late for lunchThe bay is quite a small one already occupied with people waiting to catch the ferry which is not due for another 45 minutes. We find a comfy rock (if there is such a thing) and tuck into our packed lunch and surprisingly the ginger beer I had lugged out there was still cool. However, we were not the only ones interested in our lunch.

Sea shuttle coming to collect usThe boat arrives promptly and has to wait for the ferry coming north as some passengers will be disembarking to return with us south. The crew are very friendly and chatting which is a common trait we have noticed for the Kiwis. The ferry delivered us back to Kaiterireri in good time.

We need to move on once again – we enjoyed our time in Abel Tasman park – there is so much that we want to see. Tonight we will be in Blenheim in the heart of the Marlborough wine country and have about 150km to drive today. It all works out well and we arrive there at about 5:30pm. As we checked in to the Top10 Holiday Park we were given a map of the local wineries and a recommended cycle route for tomorrow (along with a list of restaurants offering discounts on meals en route) . Sorted!

Chinese anyone?To save cooking tonight we decided on the height of sophistication – a Chinese takeaway on the picnic table behind the van as it was a lovely still sunny evening and this also avoided smelling the van out.

We enjoyed our three days in Abel Tasman and certainly saw a diverse range of what it has to offer by using the three different modes of getting around. Not a triathlon by Louise’s standards but about the right pace for us to enjoy the surroundings without being completely exhausted. In contrast we are looking forward to sampling Marlborough wines. Even better, there is no need for an early start and so can have a lie in tomorrow!

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