Abel Tasman Coast Track

June 16, 2007 - Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

New Zealand (continued)

I am seeing the photo album before they ever have decency to come home and bore me with it in their own living room -- quote from an article about meaningless e-communication (mobile photo texts, email, etc.) these days, specifically about people mass emailing photos during their travels :-)

Day 4

Kaikura is known for huge crayflish which start at about NZ$70 for a whole “cray”. But we left without trying the crays. I could hear my AZ friend Doug would say, “I could do a two-tank boat dive for that”, and we figured it wasn’t a priority. Blenheim in the Marlborough region, New Zealand’s wine country, was our destination for today. We saw plenty of cows and sheep as usual, but these were joined by fields of deer. New Zealand is a mecca for wildlife. Route 1 hugged the coast the first 20 km where we saw dozens of seals lounging around the rocky shore. In Blenheim we discovered that New Zealand eliminated their 1 and 5 cent coins altogether. I have heard such proposals for the US in the past, but it never seems to happen. Purchases are simply rounded up or down to the nearest dime, the smallest denomination coin. It seems like such a good idea and the Kiwis embraced the move and benefit with lighter and less cluttered pockets. We found a powered-site and made a Japanese dinner; ginger chicken, miso soup (instant), and kabocha. We ended the night with a glass of local wine.

Day 5

Today we finalized our Fiji/Tonga details. We booked another liveaboard in Fiji and our flight to Tonga where we will dive with our Kauai friend Wendy and hopefully some whales. This was the last of the unknowns and it feels good to have the rest of our plans finalized. I loved the town of Blenheim; best so far. The town is pedestrian friendly with its raised pedestrian walkways/vehicle speed bumps. We hit the wineries in Renwick, 10 minutes from Blenheim. We walked from winery to winery sampling the various Pinot Noirs. New Zealand is known for its Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region. But we are drinking red these days. In the end we didn’t find anything that complimented our palettes... at least not enough to shell out more than our usual $7.99 screw-top, grocery store bottle of red. Just kidding. We did end up buying, in one of the wineries, a bottle of Lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil local to the Marlborough region which is delicious for dipping bread. We moved North 30 minutes to the harbor town of Picton where we settled in for dinner and a glass of local red. I hit the books. I wanted to make sure our trip timing was right; that we would see everything and still end up back in Christchurch for our outbound flight. I spent a few hours planning the overall trip and next few days in detail.

Day 6

The previous night I came to the conclusion that we had no business in the small town of Picton. Bigger things await us farther South. At 7am we made some coffee and we were on the road to Nelson. The road hugged the shore with beautiful morning views of Marlborough Sound. We even saw a rainbow cast on an inversion! We spent some time finalizing the plan at the information center then had a few hours to roam around the town. I explored the art gallery and the Hill Top Church looking for photo opportunities. Then Terry and I visited the a local Japanese garden before packing up and moving out to the tiny town of Marahau.

Day 7

We spent the day in Abel Tasman National park hiking the famous Coast Track. A water taxi took us to our hike starting point at Tonga Quary. On the way, the boat stopped at Tonga Island so we could watch the seals relaxing on the rocks. Since it is off season there was no one else on the trail. Our 5.5-hour hike would bring us to Torrent Bay where we would catch another water taxi back to our campervan. The views and scenery were absolutely beautiful. And it was nice to do something active and stretch our legs after so much driving the past days. We took our time and took lots of photos. Terry had some fun on the long suspension bridge (Terry likes shaky bridges). During the drive back to Nelson we stopped to shoot the sunset. We were about to take off when we noticed a more beautiful sunset behinds us. Then we got back on the road and noticed what looked like the sky on fire; the third and most amazing sunset of the three. Pretty tired we had our glass of local wine and went to bed


Big celery, small cutting board
Seal colony
Vinyards in Blenheim
No $.99 stores in NZ
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