Originally, the plan after the Marlborough Sounds was to stop in Nelson, do something in the Abel Tasman National Park, and then go further around the coast towards Golden Bay. But we realised the need for early starts and full-day excursions on the Queen Charlotte Track and in the Abel Tasman National Park meant that we had to rejig the schedule a bit. We could probably have driven a couple of hours before or afterwards, but we are not too keen on driving in the dark, and it does take it out of you. Okay, it’s hardly working in a coal mine, but at the end of the day we tend to be pretty happy to stay around the camper van and relax.
|No time to visit the vineyards|
So the day after the Queen Charlotte Track, we drove to Kaiteriteri, picked because it was one of the pickup points for the Abel Tasman trip we wanted to do. Seeing it on the map, we were expecting there to be basically nothing there. And it wasn’t exactly a bustling metropolis, but it had a really big campsite which was still pretty full, and a lovely beach right across the road. So we had a bit of a swim and a sunbathe that afternoon before the clouds rolled in, and got ready for our trip to Abel Tasman the next morning.
Fresh from the trials of the Queen Charlotte Track, we were keen for a bit of a gentler excursion this time. So we picked a trip that only had about a 1 1/2 hour walk, from Onetahuti Beach to Awaroa Beach, around 5.5 km. Both were beautiful beaches, and the walk between was pretty gentle. There wasn’t so much scenery to see on this walk, but it was a nice, relaxed stroll between two lovely places, so that was okay. Jules put our newly-acquired bird-watching skills to good use when he spotted a fantail. Unfortunately, he told me to come look quickly and I abandoned my usual caution and consequently ended up sitting on the ground in an abrupt fashion. The brand new camera I was holding also took a trip to the ground, luckily sustaining only a few cosmetic scratches on the back.
|Onetahuti Beach. I guess all beaches look much the same in a panorama|
|Estuary on Onetahuti Beach #nofilter|
We didn’t have as much time on Awaroa Beach as we would have liked, just time for a swim, to read a little bit and then a dip to get the sand off. Whereas in Matarangi we were endlessly pummelled by the waves of the Pacific, here the sea was super calm and gentle. Not without risk, however. A couple told us that they had been walking along the beach watching a stingray swimming parallel to them - just before it got to where we were swimming, it changed course and swam out to sea. A narrow escape!
|The skipper takes some time out. Not the worst job in the world|
The boat trip there and back was also much longer than in the Marlborough Sounds, taking over an hour each way, and it called in at several places to pick up and drop off passengers, as well as to see the sights, such as the Split Apple Rock and fur seals on Tonga Island (although only a couple of them were hanging out when we went past. I thought the boat to Onetahuti was a bit rough, but it was nothing compared to the trip back. We started our return trip with what the skipper described as a “hoon in the lagoon”, and hoon we did, circling around the lagoon and then enjoying an extremely bumpy high-speed trip back, skipping over the waves and bumping back down really quite hard. I got a bit wet sitting in the back and also hurt my neck a bit, although that’s quite easily done.
|Split Apple Rock|
|Waiting in Anchorage Bay|
|Kayakers off Tonga Island|
|Spray from our bumpy ride|
|Boat selfie. Belfie!|
With hindsight, we would probably have gone on the 9 am boat, rather than the 10:30, and had longer to spend on the beach in between. Still, the boat was fun, the beaches were beautiful, and it was a nice contrast to the Queen Charlotte Track.