Day 406-408: Motueka to Totaranui, New Zealand

Published: March 12th 2010
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Motueka to Totaranui

Monday, March 8th

Even though our campsite was right next to the noisy main road into Motueka we slept like babies. We left the camp site just after 10am, filled up with fuel and got a few supplies. The Boesman's battery wasn't keeping its charge as much as we'd like, and upon inspection we found that the cells could do with a top-up of distilled water. It took some contortioning to get to the battery, but we managed. We just hope it did the trick.

After leaving Motueka we headed up and over Takaka Hill. Near the top we stopped and took a short hike to a viewing point looking over the valley and out into Tasman Bay. Close by are the Ngarua Caves, but they charge for entry so we gave it a skip.

Near Uruwhenua we found a shady picnic spot and made tasty wraps for lunch. Here we decided not to go to Takaka like we had planned, but to head to Totaranui, a DoC camp almost directly east of Takaka. This would take us into the northern part of the Abel Tasman National Park, to a spot we hoped would be secluded and peaceful. While driving through Pohara we stopped by a holiday park to use their internet facilities. We spent a very frustrating three hours uploading our latest entries, because for some reason we couldn't load all the photos at once like usual. We ended up having to load one photo at a time.

Finally, just after 5pm we got back on the road. It was a gorgeous drive along the coast. 10km from Totaranui the road turned to gravel and we slowly wound our way up and over the peninsula. We reached the camp grounds just after 6pm. It's a beautiful area in a small bay with a golden sandy beach. We checked in and found a camping spot close to ocean where we cooked dinner on a picnic bench outside. Unfortunately this area is also invested with Sandflies. Seems like all the really amazing places in the south island are also inhabited by these devilish little bastards.

After dinner we enjoyed tea and Tim Tams, then had a walk on the beach. Contrasted against the golden sand we noticed for the first time just how bad our sandal tans had gotten! Back at the van we had a wash and crawled into bed. We fell asleep listening to waves breaking on the shore nearby and a billion stars shining down on us. Life is amazing and God is great!

Today's highlights:
1. Deciding to go to Totaranui.
2. Managing to get our blogs published.
3. Tim Tams and tea.
4. Falling asleep with the sound of the ocean ringing in our ears.

Tuesday, March 9th

We woke to a beautiful day in Abel Tasman National Park. The Sandflies had bothered Talita during the night, but Ferdi slept like a baby. After a big breakfast we set off on a short hike. We took off our shoes to cross the estuary, then followed a very steep track to the top of a hill. The reward for reaching the top was a bench with a gorgeous view of the bay. We spent quite a while enjoying the view and looking at the birds playing in the trees. Now that we have a NZ bird book we're really getting into looking for- and identifying birds. It's a little challenging without binoculars, but so far we're managing. We've identified 27 species to date and hope to add a lot more soon.

Back at camp we hopped in our swimming costumes and spent the rest of the day on the beach, trying to get our lost tans back. The water was nice so Ferdi got his dive mask and watched a school of little silver fish swimming near the shore. Just before the office closed at 3pm we got some ice to help keep the fridge cool and for our whisky sundowners.

It was late afternoon when we spotted a black shape swimming up to the beach near us. Talita's first thought was a big school of fish, her second a shark. Ferdi's first thought was a big plastic bag, his second a seal. We jumped up and ran to the water’s edge, and as we got closer it became obvious that we were looking at a huge Stingray! He swam slowly in the shallows, a couple meters from the beach, heading up the bay. Ferdi got his dive mask and was in the water moments later. The ray was undisturbed by his presence and stayed close to the beach, passing within touching distance of him. It was massive, more than two meters across! The curious thing was that it had no tail, just a thick stump. It didn't look like it used to have a tail, so maybe it's normal for this species of ray. Either way, it was a big relief, because Ferdi didn't want to end up like Steve Irwin with a ray-barb through the heart.

When Ferdi came out the water Talita got the mask, ran ahead of Mr. Ray and went in, letting it glide past her. In this way we followed it all the way up the bay. We reached a couple of girls and lent them our mask to also have a look. They joined us in our ray spotting quest and got just as big a buzz from this unique experience as we did. When we reached the end of the bay, almost 500m from where we first spotted it, Mr. Ray glided into deeper water and disappeared.

We were totally stoked, having never seen nor heard of anything like this before. We felt so blessed, like the Lord sent us a special treat that we could then share with a couple other people.

Back at the Boesman we made wraps for dinner and marveled at what had just happened. It already felt like a dream. What a day!

Today's highlights:
1. Great views of the bay.
2. Identifying a few more birds.
3. Lazy afternoon on the beach.
4. The visit from Mr. Ray.

Wednesday, March 10th

We loved it so much in Totaranui we decided to stay another day. At the office we told the DoC lady about Mr. Stingray and she said that he was here last year as well, so it appears he's a local.

We sat on the beach till lunch time, just loving this gorgeous place. It felt like we were on holiday. After lunch we took a hike south. The trail followed the coastline and reminded us a bit of the Otter Trail, only groomed and wide and very easy (so actually it's nothing like the Otter Trail, which is rough, narrow and very tough). After an hours hike we'd made our way into the second bay down from our camp. For some reason the sand on these two beaches are almost white with lots more rocks scattered at the waters edge. We decided that was far enough and hiked back.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the beach, hoping to see Mr. Ray again, but he didn't make another appearance. This place really is beautiful, too bad about those pesky Sandflies! Even so, this could easily be our favourite beach in NZ.

We stayed on the beach until a cool breeze chased us off. Talita cooked a yummy curry dinner, we watched a movie and then called it a night.

Today's highlights:
1. Staying in Totaranui another day.
2. A nice little hike.
3. Chillin on the beach.

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


View from the top of the hillView from the top of the hill
View from the top of the hill

Our camp's down there somewhere
Taking a hike southTaking a hike south
Taking a hike south

Note how much lighter the sand is
Someone said that's fish eggsSomeone said that's fish eggs
Someone said that's fish eggs

All we know is it was soft and squeegee

12th March 2010

Hey, ons het ook nog plakkie tans wat ons laas week in die Kaap opgedoen het. Dis amper soos 'n foto wat jou laat onthou jy het onlangs vakansie gehou.
12th March 2010

Hi Talita & ferdi, Mmmm, altyd interessant om kos te sien! Hoe smaak daardie NZ worse? Moet sê daar's niks wat naby SA se boerewors kom nie. Gelukkig het ek 'n kilo boerewors (van 'n SA winkel) vir my verjaarsdag persent gekry hier in Engeland... en dis sooo lekker! Moet sê julle NZ foto's lyk al te pragtig, maar ek weet darem nie van daardie temperature nie, veral in die winter. Geniet julle avontuur! Beste wense.

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