Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Whiting Christmas: Part 4 - Abel Tasman

We headed north from Kaikoura up to Richmond (near Nelson) where we had several night booked to get off the road and rest a little bit.  We had made it all the way to the top of the south island!  They have nice beaches in Nelson, but a bit too crowded for our taste, it was the middle of summer and Nelson is a very popular destination in December.  So instead of hanging out there, we decided to go up to Abel Tasman National Park and do some hiking up around there.  

We drove over to Kaiteriteri Bay, Just south of Abel Tasman.  While the US was buried in snow, this was our view from the beach.  The water had many shades of blue, and you could see the mountains across the bay.  Someone had their kayak on the beach.  That looked like fun, but we were ready for some hiking.

We opted to take a boat to further up north in the park to make the most of our day.  There aren't a lot of roads in Able Tasman to get you everywhere, so hiking or boating are the big options.  Our boat came up and cast a ramp right onto the shore.

We headed out into the bay.  The water was different shades of blue in different areas and when the sun and clouds changed.  There were lots of other boaters out enjoying the perfect weather.

Lots of interesting little boats out.  This one looked nice.  It would be nice to learn to sail.  The beautiful beaches and warm weather were sure a big change from down south!

One of the sites to see on the way to our hike was the "split-apple" rock.  It was a boulder a little way from shore that happened to cleave right down the middle.

There were lots of little islands just off shore.  This is Adele island.  I had to take a picture for Cole since he has a big crush on the singer Adele.  :)

These islands were home to plenty of wildlife.  We saw a few seals again on the way out.  Here are a few shags enjoying the warm sun.  They were making a mess of the rocks though.

After about a 20 minute boat ride we arrived at our destination beach.  The water was so blue we thought about a swim, but you will see in a little bit why we didn't...

Where we landed was the base for an old quarry.  It was a little ways from civilization though.  There were still some carved up stones here from the early 1900's.  I guess it was to far to drag large stone from though, I don't think it survived very long.

The trail went up into the jungle.  It climbed pretty quick, and even though the elevation didn't max out too high the up and down sure was a great workout.

The bush was pretty thick, but we got glimpses out on the bay below.

A little higher and we could see the little off shore islands.

Large overhead ferns stretched out for water.  The constant rain down here keeps the plants green and happy.

There were several small waterfalls on the trails, this was one of the nicer ones spilling out into the bay.

The trails were very well maintained.  Nice bridges went over the more challenging sections.  These ones were nice and sturdy.  Much sturdier than some of the bridges on our Southland hikes.

There was a small inlet towards the end of the trail after a 2-3 km hike.  It only took a few hours but it was a perfect day.  We chose to take the "long" route along the perimeter.  If you look close you can see a sand bar which cuts across the shallow area that serves as a shortcut at low tide.

Ferns were everywhere.  Here's a developing branch unfurling hundreds of new, tiny fronds.

All the flax in Southland is brown and dried out now since its winter, but when we took these pictures at the height of summer they were a beautiful fiery red.

We had a little extra time before the boat was due to pick us up, so we enjoyed some time just chilling on the beach.  I believe this was taken Dec 23rd.  

Down that same beach we had a very lucky find.  A fully blooming Pohutukawa tree, aka the New Zealand Christmas tree.  And you can see why!  Very red and festive, it likes to bloom at Christmas time!

A closer look at the Pohutukawa flowers...

A beach discovery, and this is why the water wasn't so nice for swimming.  Can you tell what it is?  Another picture still coming...

We made our way to our boarding site, passing some more amazing views on the way.

While waiting for the boat we played in a small stream that was emptying into the ocean.  The water would go in and out, constantly changing directions as the stream's current and the tide struggle against one another making nice little pools.

We embarked back towards Kaiteriteri Bay.  On the way we saw this little rocky island.  We liked its little tree canopy.  It seems like the bush will grow anywhere down here.

We stopped to taxi a few more beach stragglers, and while docked I caught this picture of our large water friends.  Recognize it now?  Yep, large jellyfish!  The ocean was absolutely teeming with them.  Between both directions on the boat and our time on the beaches I'm sure we saw hundreds of these big guys.

It was such a clear day that even the clouds seemed notable when they passed overhead....

Pulling back into Kaiteriteri Bay, we couldn't help but feel jealous for these lucky folks in their hillside houses.  They live in some beautiful territory...

Next stop pancake rocks!

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