All right! After writing the most useless post ever last week, I think it’s time to get back on track with the original plan. Undistracted by German, or exams, or other trips that may lay ahead.
When I last checked-in on our New Zealand story, we were waiting for a Water Taxi at Anchorage Bay in Abel Tasman National Park. The planning of the whole water taxi trip was soooo complicated, I probably couldn’t reproduce it. And why would I, anyway. In short they were to pick us up at Anchorage Bay, get us up to the corner of the island, or at least to Totaranui, so we can take a look at the coast of the park from the water.
There are better options to see the park, but, unfortunately, we just did not have the time. What you should do if you have the time, anywhere in New Zealand really, but especially in Abel Tasman National Park, is take The Great Walk. You wonder what that is? You would, if you’ve never planned a trip to NZ. I know I didn’t.
There are nine Great Walks in New Zealand, among the gazillion other walks that criss-cross both islands. One of them is the Abel Tasman Coast Track and I’m sure it’s worth it. The only trick about doing any sort of hiking and exploring in Abel Tasman is that you need to book your accommodation in advance. They even remind you of it on the big sign you pass by as you enter the park (I have not taken a picture of it though, and apparently – so has nobody else. I’ve looked!). But that shouldn’t be too much of a bother, as long as you remember to stop at an i-Site before you reach the park, preferably, a few days before you do. The last one before you reach the park is the one in Motueka, I believe. If you skip it, you can always try at the Abel Tasman Centre to see if they have availability at the Marahau Beach Camp. They can also hook you up with a Water Taxi, but we got our reservations at an i-Site.
Speaking of Water Taxis, ours was quite punctual with the pick up. It was smooth sailing after that. We went all the way to the end of the taxi’s route, and on the way back they dropped us off at Medlands Bay. Luckily, a lot of people got off at different stops, and also the trail is pretty wide and well maintained so even with a lot of people on it, it was not as crowded as it was at the Tongariro Crossing. So here the actual hike started.
Not that it was harder than what we experienced getting to Anchorage in the first place, the trail is pretty even and you are practically at sea level… What made for somewhat of a challenge was that we needed to get back to Anchorage Bay at a certain time to catch the next water taxi that would take us further south, from where we would hike back to our car.
I did mention it was a complicated plan, didn’t I? 🙂
On we went and it was amazing. You would think that you can get bored with seemingly the same ocean or semi-forest, semi-jungle views, but… I couldn’t. I could flood you with the dozens of pictures I took in just a couple of hours (and I’m not the most diligent photographer), but that won’t be necessary. Instead, I will just give you a few glimpses of the beauty that New Zealand is, in no particular order.
There isn’t really that much to add to these, they speak for themselves. That goes for the hike itself – it’s one of those things where you just have to be there. And, like during most walks in New Zealand, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where the bird singing the pretty song is and what is it exactly. I’ve never been big on ornithology (except for hawks and similar birds of prey), but a brand new interest really kicked in during this trip.
It might be because birds is basically all NZ has. And sheep, of course. Only sheep, along with all other mammals are brought to the country for one reason or another, and all endemic species are, in fact, birds. And bats, but as they are also winged, they actually consider them as birds. It does simplify things, I guess.
So after marvelling at the flora and fauna for a while, we arrived at this viewpoint:
Also known as Torrent Bay, this strip of sand you see is quite resilient. I say that because every day at low tide the water drains from the pool you see in the background until this strip connects to the other side of the bay. It feels like it should’ve washed this narrow beach away by now, doesn’t it? This is also why we were advised to consider carefully the trip, as we would only be able to use this “shortcut” after approximately 3pm.
Obviously, we were there quite before 3, but as we were half-way around it, this is how the view had changed:
You can even see the poles marking the trail… when there is a trail, that is.
Which is a good reason why it’s worth taking the long way around, seeing the changing sea. Another good reason is that along the roundabout way there is a detour taking you to Cleopatra’s Pool. We were a little pressed for time, after stopping for lunch and a short dip in the ocean, but we did pick up the pace and got to see the queen’s pool. It is in essence a pretty nice cascade along the river. What’s unique about it is that the water has smoothed out a natural water slide between the rocks which is totally usable. Like I said, we did not have much time, so we didn’t have the chance to actually test it, but lots of other people have, so I’ll just use one of their pictures here:
So, in the end, we did get to Anchorage in time for the boat. We were even a few minutes early. Only a little did we regret not getting into Cleopatra’s Pool but.. hey, with a tight schedule like ours, you have to sacrifice things.
We did make up for that final rush, however, once we were dropped off at Apple Tree Bay. This was our last water taxi stop and also, where I found heaven!!
I was tempted to do this feet-photo for two reasons: 1. I was really happy at that moment and I guess my feet were too (even though there were still about 3 hours of walking ahead of us). And 2. there was nobody else but us on this beach!! Yes, I did take pictures of Nikola as well but… my feet are sooo happy! 🙂
We had to wait for the boat to leave – which was a pretty interesting sight on its own – but once it was gone… Heaven! And there was nobody not only on the beach but anywhere in sight. It was so peaceful, I could have easily spent the night there, were it not forbidden to camp on beaches .
I don’t think Nikola appreciated the serenity and beauty of the place the way I did, but to this day I still stand by my words: Apple Tree Bay is Heaven on Earth!
We did visit again the next day with a kayak, but I will tell more about it next time. For now, I just leave you (hopefully) with a fraction of the sense of peace and wholeness I got from this magical place.