The next day, the weather having cleared up, off we set to the ferry terminal for the 3hr crossing over to the South Island. And what a picturesque journey the last hour was, sailing down through the inlets of the Malborough Sounds, spectacular scenery all around. We could only hope that there was plenty more of this to come in the South Island!
The Malborough Sounds feature many delightful bays, islands and coves which were formed by the sea flooding its deep valleys after the ice ages. The Queen Charlotte Track is the most well known walkway in the Malborough Sounds, and this is what we planned to explore the following day. The whole track is 71km long so we only attempted to do part of it, but 17km wasn't a bad day's effort we thought!! We took a sea taxi out to Ship Cove and then did a 5hr walk up to Furneaux Lodge (one of the more isolated but luxury type accommodation that can be found hidden away in the Sounds). A very pleasant days walking along the coastline and up through lush rainforests, certainly not the type of landscape I was expecting. Although there were no dramas this time we certainly all felt it (the toil of the walk) in our bodies with plenty of aching muscles the next day. But what's a simple cure for tight and stiffened up muscles - a nice gentle easy walk to get them all loosened up again! So off we set the following day to our next port of call to do just this in the Abel Tasman National Park.
The Abel Tasman National Park is another popular tramping (hiking) area, passing through pleasant native bush that overlooks many inviting bays. It's definitely more touristy than the Malborough Sounds with its golden beaches and mediterrean feel. We booked ourselves onto the 'Aquacat sea taxi' (a very popular taxi service up and down the coast, dropping and picking people up from various bays along the way). Having such a long period of time whilst the tide is out (up to 7hrs), the water taxis have come up with an ingenious way of getting the passengers into the boats and into the sea whilst the tide is out - the boat is mounted up on its trailer which is towed by a tractor, all the passengers climb onto the boat and are then driven down the road and across the beach up to the water's edge where the boat is then launched, with no one having got their feet wet!!
Just wanting to do a short walk today to stretch our legs we got dropped off near Anchorage Bay where we did a lovely hours walk around the headland before being picked up by the sea taxi and taken back to shore!