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Published: March 4th 2016
Grub for the roadMon: Abel Tasman Coastal Track
Patisserie Royale, Motueka
I wasn't sure exactly how we were going to hike Abel Tasman Coastal Track. It's ~30km point-to-point between Marahau and Awaroa. Beyond that, tide dictates when you can proceed. From little that I had read, ferries are abundant and I thought we should be able to cover that in 1 day, easy. The problem was...the last water taxi pick up at Awaroa was ~4pm. That would give us zero chance for error. On the south end, first boat doesn't leave until 9am. This meant 10:30am start of the hike from Awaroa. Although the day light is long, we didn't want to be out there until late. If we were running, it wouldn't have been a question but with my SLR and injured foot, we couldn't count on it. In the end, we decided on 10:15am arrival at Onetahuti and made it a 22km hike.
After a flat-white stop at Patisserie Royale on the main strip of Motueka, we got into Marahau by 8:30am. It wasn't obvious where to park. No problem. Info center looked me up and they knew exactly what time with which company I was scheduled to leave. They told us to
go to the company we booked with and park in their lot. The water taxi fits just shy of 15 people and they assigned us to separate boats depending on the destination. They had this down. Boat was hooked up to a tractor that drove us out to the shore. Justin, our driver, backed the boat into the water and we were off! I didn't expect couple of stops at tourist stops since they were called water taxi. Bonus 😊. We got to see the split rock, the most photographed rock in the world, and Tonga Island for seal viewing.
As the boat dropped off some folks before us, we realized the boat wasn't going all the way into the beach. Ooo, better get them shoes off. Sure enough, water was knee high where we got off. At Onetahuti, people were up and about. We got our shoes back on and finally started the main event of the day at 10:30am. Trail lead us through a single-track well-groomed path. It would have been a great run too, except maybe too crowded. It's not as extreme as Tongariro but we came across other parties frequently. Trail weaved in and out
of the coast line. Especially when we came around to a bay, it went higher and gave us the epic view of the entire bay. So picturesque! In a frame, you get turquoise water, green fern, clear blue sky and dark-colored trees. There were a few side trips popping out here and there to the vista point or a waterfall. It was another gorgeous day (yes! We're so lucky!!). It was even hot and I ended up needing more water on this hike. But of course that's when I decided to bring 1 bottle, not 2. Thank god for the filtered water fountain at one of the huts, phew. In the past couple of hikes, I ended up not touching my second bottle but those hikes were earlier in the day.
At mile 15, we knew close to Marahau. It was hot, trail was nicely groomed, single track...grr, we lost our patience! We started running! Oh how liberating that was!! Back at the trailhead, it was just short of a mile walk to the car. I was hungry and thirsty. Conveniently, there was a bar offering cold stuff but we held ourselves out for a brewery later. Not so
The most photographed rock in the world!!
fast! I spotted a little stand with bags of…apples! Sweet! I dropped money in the box. Juicy little apples were worth every bit of it!
THIRSTYYY…for beer!! We learned that Nelson is a craft beer mecca, like wine to Marlborough, in New Zealand. Glad we came here! Breweries close early but there are plenty of pubs that are open late. Moutere Inn claims to be the oldest pub in NZ, est. 1850. Gotta go check it out. 30min drive through cows and sheeps, we found the pub. There was really nothing else around it, except gas station and mini mart that were closed for the day. Moutere Inn had decent crowd though. We got the sampler and took the outside bench. After a good hike on a warm day, what can be better than ice cold beer with a charcuterie plate? We had ESB, IPA, porter and a cider (:p) from the local breweries. Wow, they were all great! None of them had after-taste. Even the cider wasn't annoyingly tart or sweet. They gave us a scoring sheet. I had to give a perfect score but if the connoisseurs gave their thumbs down, they'd revisit their selection, ha. Great
Getting off the water taxi
Didn't read the fine print...
stuff. Tue: To Queen Charlotte Track or to NZ craft beer, that is the question
One thing for sure: Patisserie Royale repeat in Motueka to fuel up for the 2-hr windy drive to Anakiwa. Today was forecasted to be raining since, well, we made the plan. Patchy clouds were hovering over us. But we had to take chances.
At 10:15am, small car park was pretty filled up at the trailhead. There was a vending machine to buy the pass. I wasn't informed of this amenity… Initial 4 miles was ever gradual ascent through the lush path, similar to the parts of Abel Tasman. At mile 4, there were a few benches on a lookout spot. As we were grabbing lunch there, it started sprinkling. By the time we finished eating, it was sprinkling harder. Still, we were hopeful that the rain will pass. A short walk after that, we pulled out the rain jacket. It started to really rain now. Patchy cloud was now a solid gray cloud, covering the entire sky.
Decision point. We can probably get to the goal of Torea Bay 20-some km later where we have the water taxi booked for 5pm.
But we most likely won't have any view. Walk just to walk it. Or. We might make a better use of our last day here visiting nation's craft beer capital, eh eh? Breweries close early so now is our opportunity to make it...decision made! It would have been a bummer if the sun cracked on our way back to the car but the cloud was persistently solid. Even the water taxi guy concurred with our decision. On the drive back to Nelson, it was dumping hard at some spots. Nice quick decision on our part 😊. We came across handful of cyclers braving the pouring rain and windy road. Is that what it takes to bike through NZ?
In the pouring rain, we arrived at Founders Brewery. It's one of the closest from Nelson center. The brewery is located inside the historic village. Of course we had no idea and the nice lady at the entrance let us through 😊. In this rain, there is no wondering around anyway. Another sampler winner! Again, porter was smooth enough to be placed early in the tasting order. Zero aftertaste. Ain't bad taking cold beer in the patio looking over pouring rain.
It was decorated with hops like ivy, winner. Hey, we can make it to one more brewery, let's do it! Bays Brewery wasn't too far away. We drove up to a huge warehouse. Hello…anybody home? A friendly guy came out of the office. Hey there! He started us on sampling. This brewery makes everything, mixing malt liquor with fruit juice etc. And guess what? They make the CHIA
drink here too! They also refill right there. In fact, a guy showed up with the 2L bottle and had his alcoholic lemonade refilled.
Rain did not stop for the rest of the day. By next day, it was raining sideways. Our flight to Auckland was delayed by half hour. We had 2-hr in Auckland to check-in for the flight home. Can we make it? In Auckland, we had to take a shuttle to the international terminal and that didn't show up for good 30min!! We don't have time for this!! We literally ran to Fiji Airways ticketing counter, only to find out bunch more people were checking in for the same flight! Island mode? A lady came to intervene the situation to move things along but looks like the damage
had been done already. Flight was obviously delayed. Actually, for all we cared, we wanted the flight to be delayed as much as they wanted because we were looking at 5+ hours at Nadi airport. We stopped by on the way. Oh boy, we are going to suffocate in that little airport for sure, yikes. Somehow, we retained our sanity with airport-premium sub-par food choices, sigh. Wakey wakey, we're in LA! We had less than couple of hours to get immigration done and be on our last leg to SF. Immigration went efficiently for once but, geez, this hasn't been a good stretch at all. Our flight to SF was delayed by 2hrs, nooooo!! More airport hangouts. Apparently, it was still raining sideways, this time in SF. Since my jar of vegemite & marmite were confiscated, I had to bring something back right? 😉
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