New Zealand: Entry 5

18 March 2003: Nelson, New Zealand

Subject: New Zealand

Abel Tasman National Park

I've spent the last few days in the Abel Tasman National Park, which is just West of Nelson on the North coast of the South Island. It's a lovely coastal area with lush wooded hillsides dropping down to rocky headlands and golden sandy coves.

I signed up for a two-day sea kayaking trip along the coast. My plan was to spend the following day returning to the starting point on foot along the coast path.

There were eight of us in the group: a family of three from the U.S.A., one German and four from England. We were all in double kayaks; I shared with Andy the German who I am sure provided more than his fair share of the propulsion! Here we all are - much too small to see I'm afraid:

Then there was our guide, Sam, who told us what to do, found us the best places to camp, and produced some great meals from his boat's seemingly bottomless food locker:

The pace of the trip seemed to be quite gentle, yet we covered plenty of distance. Kayaks seem to be pretty efficient ways of getting around, as I found out when I travelled about the same distance to get back on foot. The coastline is lovely. Here is one of the first of many golden sandy bays that we stopped at during the trip:

There is a well-engineered coastal path that winds its way along the hillside, often high about the beaches with good views like this when there is a gap in the trees.

Once again the weather stayed excellent for the duration - it was bright and sunny, and calm, all the time. And even the sand flies, for which the Abel Tasman area is apparently renowned, were not too troublesome. I had a great time!

I'm now back in Nelson and tommorrow I'm taking a bus southwards down the West coast as far as a place called Punakaiki, which is midway between Westport and Greymouth in the Paproa national park. This area has a range of high (about 1200m) granite mountains inland and a limestone area, with caves, between them and the sea. I'll let you all know what I think of it.