At the top of the South Island
17.01.2014 - 18.01.2014 74 °F
Abel Tasman: The longest of all drives, the most remote, most mosquitoes, and definitely the most beautiful place we have seen this trip. Like Fraser Island, we had to take a ferry to get to this spot in NZ. But quite different was the way in which you boarded- you climbed in the 20 person boat IN the PARKING LOT of the AquaTaxi office. We were then attached to a modified John Deere tractor with a lift kit on it, that pulled the boat for about a mile or so down the road to the Abel Tasman Marine park (off the Tasman sea). Now, this body of water has extreme tides of 16 feet difference between hi & lo tide. So at low tide the tractor pulls the boat right out onto the boat launch, onto the sandy sea floor all the way out to the water. It was crazy!
The drive was crazy though, and we even skipped a big scenic thing (Pancake Holes) just to get there faster. It rained about 40% of the time!
Once we got to Mutahua, we had an hour boat ride and our Captain showed us some of the beautiful wildlife along the way, including a family of sea lions, cormorants and blue penguins!
We were greeted on the beach by the manager of the lodge, Leo. He walked out to the boat that anchored in shallow water, grabbed our luggage, carried the kids across the water, and Steve and I rolled up our pants, hopped out and waded to shore. A huge private beautiful beach with crystal clear water, up we walked to a 1/2 mile boardwalk that led us to a private lodge. (I felt like I was on Fantasy Island!). Our un-air conditioned, no TV, eco hut was tight with the kids sleeping in beds in a loft above our bed and couch. It did cool off at night quite nicely after we paid the price in blood to mosquitoes! WOW they were as bad as the flies were in Australia! There was really nothing to do there at night other that eat dinner from an organic garden to table small restaurant, take walks through the rain forest (bush) and feed raw meat scraps to the giant eels in the wetlands (which was a highlight for the kids!!).
Just like on the rest of our South Island experience, it stayed light out until 10/10:30 pm and was bright by 6:30 am. We promptly woke up, had breakfast at the lodge, and then hiked 45 minutes over a rolling hill/mount that led us to a completely remote beach ONLY accessible by foot or kayak. Words cannot describe the crisp clear water at high tide, the 3-4 foot deep estuary at the base of this mountain full of lush vegetation, the color of the sand, the drift wood, the sandbars, it was gorgeous- and we were THE ONLY ONES THERE ALL DAY! Except for a few other folks that walked by from the trail, ‘BUTZ BEACH’ was ours. We built a shelter out of the drift wood for shade, laid right on the sand & played! During the course of the day, the tide went out extremely far and we were able to walk along the cliffs edge, walking through sand, shells, and rocks and exploring the entire coastline.
We saw stingrays, fish, and all sorts of cool species of birds.
We stayed all day and had a tough hike back (being the kids were hungry…Max tripped and cut himself up quite nicely, and Sara and Sam bickered the entre way!) Good times- but that ended with a few pizzas at an outdoor pizzeria. Yum!
We departed in the morning via boat, then a hook up to a tractor, and went back to the car. From there we headed on up to catch a huge ferry to take us across the sound to Wellington.