Published: February 5th 2008February 1st 2008
Lord of the Rings scene
On the way to 'Harwood Hole' - a 300 + metre drop into an underground cave system and river
Date visited: 23-25 January
We drove a further few hours west hugging the coastline and arrived at our camp/hostel accommodation a few miles inland from the North West Abel Tasman park.
The lodge was nestled in thick bush on a hill totally away from it all - we were chuffed to bits to find we were the only campers there where we could choose our own pitch amidst the extensive grounds. The sound of crickets , wild turkeys! and dogs filled the night air - it all just felt so peaceful.
This proved to be an excellent base as we were escaping the tourist crowds and campers found on the coast but still close enough to commute to the famous Abel Tasman park.
We checked out the coastal track the next day which was a windy path passing pristine coves and bays. We jogged along the first few k - the full length of the track would have taken a few days but we were just happy having a taster.
On our second day in the area we decided to do a full day Kayak trip. A local company arranged guided trips to all areas
Sal clambering over limestone 'karst' landscape
Near Harwood Hole... This area is known for the spectacular jagged rocks caused by weathering of limestone over thousands of years
- we picked a trip to the northern end of the park to avoid the crowds. This also incoporated the Tonga Marine Reserve on Tonga Island, a seal colony and a lagoon.
The weather was a bit dodgy to start with but eventually the sun burnt through making the sea look a lot more inviting! Still, a stiff sea breeze created rocky waves when we paddled out to the headland - enough to move the Kayak a fair bit - more like a bobbing cork! Our guide offered me a sickness pill - good job I took it!
We paddled with a few others up the coastline - the guide, a bloke with dreadlocks was quite a character - for starters he wore a mexican hat (not so bad!) and a pink dress ???!!
We explored some lovely bays and the lagoon looked very nice indeed - I just wish the sea was like in the brochures but unfortunately this was not to be. Also, I unluckily had to steer the Kayak as Ben needed the extra leg room at the front. The steering was not easy as my big boats (feet) had to fit on these
Our idyllic camping spot at sunset
Near the Abel Tasman national park (a little inland from the sea)
tiny pedals the size of a match box. A few times my foot would dislodge and I couldn't reposition it as I was trapped and sealed in the boat in my frog-like seating position (for maximum sturdyness). It was hopeless.
Luckily, we were in the sheltered lagoon, when my foot slipped off a third time just when I needed to steer it to the left. I proceeded to lose control and in classic slow motion (not) we drifted straight into some rocks almost grounding the boat.
At this point I got the guide to help me re-align my adjustable pedals. (I also took my sandals off......) ;o
The trip was ok but a bit of a rush. A quick lunch stop and a hectic pedal back to catch up (thanks to us!) meant everything felt a bit rushed. We even had to be towed by the guide as we were so slow! hahaha
This trip was one of the must things to do and it did rely on lovely weather to see everything at its best which we didn't quite get.
I am glad we had a good go at Kayaking though and see
the more remote aspects of this park. At least I didn't manage to overturn the boat, though at times even that seemed increasingly likely in the roughish sea.
Our 3 night stay in the rainforest camp nicely rounded off this area. Very glad we invested in the bench mat and cushions at Neslon for our tent bedding - no more aching backs!
There are more photos below