And so to Abel Tasman national park – undoubtedly one of our favourite spots in New Zealand. It's one of the smallest national parks (in relative terms: it's still pretty large by normal standards) but one of the most popular, and it's not hard to see why.
Gorgeous idyllic sandy bays and water ranging from dark blue to green to turquoise. Totally unspoilt (much of it is a marine reserve so no fishing etc) and also, luckily for us, hardly any tourists around yet as it's still low season. The weather also behaved impeccably which made a pleasant change...
We stayed in another great hostel set amongst orchards in Motueka. From there, we did a day trip to the national park which comprised of a morning's kayaking, followed by an afternoon trek along part of the Abel Tasman track. We had a brilliant day. We really enjoyed the kayaking, and surprisingly weren't too bad at it (although Roland did actually get sea sick!!) We paddled over to a seal colony so it was great to see them up close, and we also saw a penguin swimming along.
Lunch was a picnic at a pretty little cove and then it was off into the surrounding rainforest to do the walk and check out the stunning views.
Our appropriately-named guide, Rowy, was great fun and invited us to a pub quiz that evening - we helped his team gain a respectable (but sadly prize-less) 3rd place...
The next day, we drove through the winding mountains (now it was my turn to feel queasy) to explore Golden Bay. We stopped at a salmon fishing lake on the way and Roland unleashed his hunter-gatherer side by catching us a nice salmon for our lunch. The only fly in the ointment was that he had to kill it as the people running the place wouldn't do it for you! He was somewhat traumatised but managed it (unfortunately, I was totally squeamish and no help whatsoever.) They then hot-smoke it alongside the lake and, voila, lunch is served.
Later, we stopped by to admire the amazingly crystal-clear water of Pu-Pu Springs. It's quite hard to capture on camera but the water is very deep and so pure that you can see right to the bottom. Very pretty.
After Abel Tasman, next stop was the Marlborough Sounds via an excellent fush and chup shop we'd been recommended (Thanks Matt!). We're staying in a lovely remote place at one end of the Queen Charlotte Track (another famous Kiwi hiking route). Yesterday, we did the first few hours of the track up to an excellent lookout point across the sounds. And luckily, the sun had his hat on (before the afternoon hailstorm – New Zealand weather is bonkers) so we saw a bit more of these ones than Milford.
Yesterday was Gran's funeral back home so it was a sad day for me but we marked it with our own little ceremony to remember her, and got hold of the various pieces of music, hymns etc. Dad did a reading on my behalf which I'm glad about.
And so, not too much longer in New Zealand... We've actually just pushed back our flight and leave for Australia on the 20th November. We'll be heading back up to the North island soon to do the West coast before reluctantly taking the car back. Can't we take it with us to Oz please Rob?
Anyway, this is finally the end of today's mammoth session! Hope all is well back home, birthday wishes to Toby (and soon- Stefan, Alice and Matt) and lots of love to all,
Helene and Roland xxx