Abel Tasman National Park
An early morning drive over to the small village of Marahu to take the water taxi up the coast to Anchorage. We are picked up outside the water taxi centre, by a tractor carrying the boat which takes us through the streets to the waterfront. The water taxi is reversed into the sea, once it is afloat we turn and head off, fast out to sea ! First the taxi heads back down the coast to Kaiteriteri to pick up more passengers from the shoreline. Lifebelt on please, ” no need to test them we know they work ” past beaches and coves, the sea is an emerald-green and beautiful.
The taxi circles apple rock, there are lots of people in sea kayaks with the same idea, with children climbing over the rocks. The taxi heads off north to Anchorage past the beautiful Adele Island, it swings into Archorage bay to drop off passengers. We jump off here onto the orange and yellow sand/ stone beach is it stunning ! It’s a hot and muggy day but we have to climb up the hill and out of the bay, the views open out over the rainforest and the bay. The path along the coast is flat and winds through the forest back to Marahu. 12,4km apparently but this takes us three hours thirty, the guide said four. Fantastic views, beaches and coves under the forest trees, its hot and sticky but well worth the effort.
Return to the start in Marahu and after refreshments, head back to the campsite for a rest and beer. 23 degrees, blue skies, warm. Plan for tomorrow and the crossing to the wild west coast. 20.12.2013
Highway 5 to the West Coast
Take the back route from Motueka, past the airport and through twisty roads leading to the highway pass over the mountains to Murchison, here we stop for a coffee and muffin, which is fast becoming a habit and found out the school holidays run from Christmas to the end of February so most locals travel on the 2nd of Jan, so it starts to get busy then well as busy as the roads in New Zealand can get ! The highway winds through the Buller gorge following the river, we stop at the longest Swing bridge in NZ and have a wander around an old gold mining settlement. To reach the river we have to climb down a steep slope with a rope to guide us, here we clamber over rocks worn smooth by the strong currents. The river rises extremely during winter floods, almost 7m from its present level,. Back at the swing bridge we watch a guy pay 45 NZD to zip wire across the river gorge…in a superman harness, he hangs upside down for most of the crossing….
The highway twists down towards Westport, but we turn south through the Paparoa National Park, it starts to rain as we head down along the coastal highway, lots…past the stormy seascape of Woodpecker Bay. Call it a day at the Punakaiki Pancake rocks because we cannot see anything other than the frantic windscreen wipers, found the free camper car park and headed over to the only tavern in town for a handle or three… 21.12.2013
An Early morning visit to Pancake rocks, just a short drive from our overnight stop. A short walk from the road along the cliff top brings us to the Blowholes. Glad we stopped for the night rather than passing through. Spectacular ! The drive along the west coast is stunning, we stopped at a rugged and empty beach, to take lots of photos and go for a stroll. Fourteen Mile Bluff. This is dramatic scenery.
Fourteen Mile Bluff
Franz Joseph Glacier
Pass through Greymouth without stopping then on to Hotitika for a walk around town, visited a jade store to buy glass penguins…cafe on the street for lunch, feeling the town is run down bit like an old western town. Stand on the beach front feeling disoriented, which way is south ? Sun behind me to the North, shadows on the south side of the buildings. Stop in Harihari not much there either, very cut off from the world, reach Franz Joseph Township and drive up to the parking place for Franz Joseph Glacier. Walk on a flat cleared path to within 500m of the Glacier. Access is no longer allowed on to the glacier itself, only higher up on the glacier by helicopter, a group of which circle constantly up one side of the valley and back down the other taking people and setting them down on the surface. Travelled further on to Fox Glacier Township, Top 10 campsite with views to the mountains with a pub within walking distance, try out the beers, Monteith’s Celtic Red proved to be the winner, chatted to the Bar staff and a couple from Arizona who are pretty much doing the same route as us but staying in Motels. 22.12.2013