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.

And for other great family activities in and around the Nelson area, check out more Nelson posts.

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