Through vineyards and the Abel Tasman National Park
15.03.2015 - 18.03.2015
Heading further north, we had the chance to take in more of the dramatic coastline from Kaikoura. It was quite the scenic drive. Once we reached Picton though, we had to say goodbye to most of the other travellers who crossed the Cook Strait which splits the north and the south island of New Zealand.
Here you can see the harbor of Picton and the ferry that was bringing some of us to the North island:
I, however, and many new travelers who soon became my new favorite group continued on towards our next stop for the night - Kaiteriteri. But before we should arrive, we stopped in the scenic Marlborough Valley. Everywhere we looked vineyards were to be seen along the steep hillsides. This region is especially famous for its delicious Sauvignon Blanc varieties of wines. At one stop, we all joined a wine tasting and some of us purchased the one or other bottle to a special price for later on. One more brief stop in Nelson and then we were at the doorstep of the Abel Tasman National Park and in Kaiteriteri, our destination for today.
Kaiteriteri is surrounded by golden beaches and blue water (it was freezing cold!!!) and has some of the best year-round weather of NZ. Our lodge was only a minute walk from the beach; given the fact that Kaiteriteri is tiny it's not surprising though.^^ First thing we did once we dropped our stuff off at the rooms was going to the beach. Despite the water being freezing, the warm sun on our skin was awesome. Felt almost like I was back in Australia again. We cooked some good food all together in the small lodge kitchen and enjoyed a nice dinner among with new friends and travel companions.
The next day was bringing some clouds with it, but we sticked to our plan we made the day before and headed out to a kayak trip along the coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park. We had two options: kayak south and see the famous Apple Split Rock...
... or head north and have the chance to kayak right next to seals. With Adele and Fisherman island being our point of interest, we hired kayaks and set out to our adventure. The islands are highly protected and in earlier days all animals that endangered the bird population, like cats, were taken off the island to ensure that the native birds can live on the those island safely.
After about two hours kayaking, we stopped on Adele Island for a small picnic. So far we haven't seen any seals yet but the pristine coastline and the scenery made up for it.
We continued on kayaking around Adele island and reached the northern tip of it. There, we experienced what you'd call a little breeze when on a motor boat, but with not even a foot above the water, the "small" waves gave us all heaps of trouble and we had to fight not to hit any rocks sticking out of the water. But there they were - seals. A group of about 6-10 seals were sitting on the northern cliff of Adele island; some couldn't have been any older than a couple of months. The waves made it impossible to go any further around the island though and so we had to turn around... To our luck, the weather tipped halfway back to our starting point. In less than a minute, it started raining out of buckets and we were soaked in no time. Luckily the rain was kind of mild warm and didn't bother too much and actually made the whole adventure even more fun. Back at the starting point we were welcomed back by the kayak hire company which put our kayaks on a trailer behind a tractor that drove right into the knee-high water. Hot tea and cocoa was handed to us at the kayak hire company.
For some reason, the bus that departed the next day was overbooked... A small group of some new friends of mine and I, did not get on the bus therefore. Kaiteriteri was not a bad place to stay an extra day though. Located in the middle of the Abel Tasman National Park, it also offers thrilling mountain bike trails.
In the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park (MBP), you can ride on 180ha and on tracks with different difficulty levels.
The park is mostly situated in dense native bush and the majority of the newly-benched trails are wide, easy to intermediate-grade tracks, complemented by narrower hand-benched single-track. All tracks can be ridden both ways, besides the ones that go steeply uphill! The intermediate tracks were almost too easy for me so I went on riding downhill on hard tracks and ended up carrying my bike - they were too steep and so far I haven't had to spend a day in hospital and I didn't want to change this that day.
The group of us missed the rest of the group that did make it on the bus. We thought we might be able to hitchhike to the next stop of the bus and then catch up to them. The idea turned into action and in not even an hour and we found ourselves walking along the winding street out of the Abel Tasman National Park. Equipped with our bags and quickly improvised travel signs we left Kaiteriteri.
After walking from noon to evening, we decided we wouldn't be too lucky in that area. Not many cars were passing us and we didn't really think the whole plan through. No one of us had a tent or a mattress. So, we ended up back at the Kaiteriteri lodge that evening. We called KiwiExperience and complained about the overbooked bus and et voilà, on the next day we were on the bus and off to our next stop: Westport.