Lauren (wheres_lola) wrote,

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Who *is* Abel Tasman?

Abel Tasman was a Dutch explorer who led the first European expedition to New Zealand. This was around 1642. A lot of places around here are named for this guy, including the town of Tasman, the Tasman Bay, and the Abel Tasman National Park, the latter of which I spent the last couple days tramping around.

I'm sure most of you have heard/read me complaining about how I hadn't had the chance to get out and do some of the Great Outdoors stuff that is New Zealand's signature. Well, as luck would have it, I had a couple days off in a row this week, and so I decided there was no time like the present to rectify that. So I booked a bus and a hut and on Tuesday morning, I headed out to Abel Tasman for a two day hike.

I started out by taking a water taxi north to an area called Bark Bay. Bark Bay is almost, but not quite, the middle of the entire Abel Tasman Trail, a tramp that can take 3-5 days depending on your speed. I didn't have that much time to spare, so I chose to start in the middle and head to the southern trailhead of Marahau, where I could catch a bus back to Nelson. On the way I stopped at Anchorage Bay and slept at a hut, affording a very leisurely couple of days to make the journey.

Needless to say, the scenery was absolutely gorgeous. The trail wound around the coast, providing lots of lovely views of golden beaches and rocky coastline. I took my time and checked out most of the side trails to coves and lookouts. The hike itself was surprisingly tame; the trail is well cared for and mostly flat. It reminded me a lot of a hike I often did as a kid on Signal Mountain, down to Rainbow Falls, for those of you who know it. Of course, that one is significantly shorter. As my most recent hiking experience has been mountains (Mt. Iwate x2 and Mt. Fuji), I guess I was expecting something more extreme. It was very pleasant, and I was pleased.

The first day's hike was quite jungle-y. I took a stop at Sandfly Bay, which was at a river mouth. Very cool, but gosh, don't get me started on the evil of sandflies. I also got to make a low tide crossing from Torrent Bay to Anchorage Bay, something I was inordinately excited about. I had to take off my shoes to do it, and the mud was pleasantly squishy and gooey. So fun. I arrived at Anchorage at about 2pm, which left me the rest of the day to just chill on the beach. I took a couple side treks around the area as well. At dusk I wandered over to the far end of the beach, where a lady showed me a cave filled with glowworms. It was pretty amazing to see the rocks lit up with miniature constellations. I'm glad that lady was there to show me; I wouldn't have thought to look on my own.

The next day I got up about 8, and by 9 was bored of waiting, so decided to take off. I took a few side trails to some of the beaches along the way, although the ever-present sandflies limited my appreciation of the areas. At one of them, Apple Tree Bay, they weren't quite so bad, so I stopped and took a nap. Not really sure how long I slept, but it felt really nice just to lay in the sun for a while. After my nap, the signs told me I had about 2 hours to go until Marahau, so away I went. I don't know if it was because of the ease of the hike or the fact that I'm in better shape or a combination, but I had to take much fewer breaks than when I was hiking in Japan. Still, by the time I got close to Marahau, I was ready to be done. The end of the hike was not near so pretty as the rest, and I hoofed it to the trailhead pretty quickly once the trees started thinning out. I got there by 3pm. I was slotted to take the 5:30pm bus, so I went to the cafe right nearby and had a late lunch. I was done in time to catch the 4pm bus instead, and so made it home in plenty of time to make dinner and chill out.

All in all, it was a nice couple days away in the wilderness, and I would certainly recommend the tramp to anyone interested. I took plenty of pictures, so if you'd like to see them, they are here. Now, back to the typical work schedule and trying not to scratch these wicked sandfly bites!
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