24 October 2014

Rays from heaven and other cloud porn

After our big adventure out in the Abel Tasman, we all needed a cup of tea and a sit down, which also meant that takeaways were on the cards for dinner. The kids were more than happy with McD's (of course) but we thought we'd try the local fish n chippie which turned out to be a bit of a bad move. The burger was very average and even my fish was pretty blah, but luckily the dinner location at Tahunanui Beach made up for the poor fare.


The clouds were looking rather lovely as we arrived but continued to ramp up the longer we stayed and the more we walked down the beach.

Sand angels are a must if you are 8 years old, did you know?

The beach itself is massive - at low tide it's a huge expanse of sand to explore and blow the cobwebs out. This photo below cracks me up - I reckon the boys look like they are on the cover of an album for a boy band standing as they are - with that glorious light behind them.

And yet, look to your left and there are still snowcapped mountains in sight - what the?!

And then came the heavenly rays.

Truly something to witness, seeing those shafts of light breaking through the sky so powerfully.

Turning everything golden in their path.

I had high hopes for the sunset, so dropped the boys back home (only a 2 minute drive) before coming back to the beach, hopeful of a good show.

It was a much more muted affair than I initially anticipated. I'd been hoping for an incredible fiery display but this was much more like tinges of burnished gold amongst heavy blue clouds.

But still beautiful in its own way.

It was enough to keep my eyes wide and my fingers clicking on the camera for a good hour in any event!

Plus I knew bad weather was forecast for the following day so it made sense to make the best of what was on offer - and moody clouds and scattered golden light are still a good result in my books!

21 October 2014

Golden sand underfoot {a family walk and cruise in the Abel Tasman}

One of the things on our wish list for our family holiday to Nelson and Golden Bay was a cruise/walk in the Abel Tasman National Park. We'd originally thought we would go with one of the bigger tour operators, but having our friends Judith and Hamish organising it, we went with their recommendation of one of the smaller water taxis whose boats go a lot quicker and can get up much closer to the wildlife.

It was an early start out of Nelson before 8am for the hour's drive to Kaiteriteri. We arrived in time to scoff a coffee before our water taxi came zooming up to the beach. You can see it top left in the photo below.

There was actually a fair degree of skill involved in boarding the water taxi so as not to get sopping wet feet. A fact our children realised way too late in the piece, and so had to spend the next few hours walking with wet feet! The water taxi (not like the big one above) had a tiny gangplank which would come and go with the tide so you had to time your run just right, and not just stand there in the water gormlessly while a wave washed in over your feet like our two did! Oh well. We all did a lot better on the way home having learnt that it is actually quite a good idea to take one's socks and shoes OFF for boarding and disembarking!

The first thing we did was head for Split Apple Rock - it's quite famous for well, obvious reasons.

The water was such a beautiful colour, changing hue as we went closer to shore or were further out to sea.

We stopped just off this island on the left above and spotted a few seals basking on the rocks.

The plan for our walk was that we'd get dropped at Torrent Bay and walk the long way round to Anchorage - about 1.5 hour walk or 5km. At low tide it's only about a half hour across the mud flats to get there but we were all keen to take the scenic route.

This tree gave us all a laugh. Someone had obviously decided that he needed a face - quite well done!


Another new discovery was honeydew. Honeydew is only found in certain parts of NZ where beech forests grow, and are an important energy source for birds such as tui, bellbirds and kaka.  Basically the beech scale insect feeds off the sap of the beech tree and then excretes a sugary liquid known as honeydew. On the blackened trunk here you can see the thin white lines, and at the end of these is the honeydew drop which you can collect on your finger and suck. It's deliciously sweet, if you can get past the fact you are actually eating bug poo!

Along the walk we took the opportunity for a detour to Cleopatra's Pool, a side trip of about 20 minutes each way. It really is a fascinating spot - where the smooth natural boulders have carved out a natural waterslide amongst the rocks that look like Cleopatra reclining on her chaise lounge. Judith has taken the kids on there in the summer, but none of us were game enough to try it out without our swimming gear (or with the temperature of the water at this time of year).


However one game lady who was visiting from the USA arrived at the same time we did, and after hearing that you could actually have a go riding this natural waterslide, she nipped behind a rock and the next thing we knew she'd swum across and gone for it!

She got big cheers from us all!


After this we climbed up to the highest point of the walk before quickly dropping down into Anchorage, an utterly delightful, secluded and sheltered bay with the most golden sand I have ever laid eyes on.




It was much more like a summer's day than mid Spring and warm and calm to boot, which made it an amazing spot to sit with our picnic lunch and just soak in the view. I was actually sad to see the water taxi roaring in to pick us up at 1pm as I could have easily spent another hour or two just sitting on that beach but it was just the right amount of time for the kids to have spent on an outing for the day.

The trip back to Kaiteriteri went quickly and after an icecream and a play at the park the kids took on the huge flying fox which would throw them very high in the air when they hit the tyres at the end - not for the fainthearted!

It had been such a wonderful weekend of enjoying each other's company and seeing our kids do the same that we really didn't want it to end. But we had to bid farewell to Judith, Hamish and the girls as they needed to organise themselves for their family holiday to Australia the next day. We certainly hope it's not another four years before we can come back and enjoy their amazing hospitality again.

We meandered home and had a takeaway dinner on the beach....athough our fish n chips were VERY average it was more than made up by the fact we encountered the most incredible heaven rays I have ever seen on a beach......stay tuned.


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