More than just sea gulls and rocks...
07.04.2012 - 16.04.2012
Our next stop on the New Zealand leg of the trip was three days of sea kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park. It was nearing the end of the season so only trips with lodge accommodation were available. Damn the bad luck...
Our trip started with an hour or so ride on a water taxi to get to the north end of the park. Abel Tasman has tides of over 5 meters each day, so the local water taxi companies have to get creative. Basically we all loaded into the boat while it was still on the trailer and a tractor hauled us out into the estuary until they could float the boat off.
An hour or so later we were dropped off in the Awaroa Estuary. Our itinerary had us going further north, but we happened to be there for one of the highest tides of the year and our guide Kyle wanted to take advantage of it to get far back into the estuary.
After loading up the boats, we headed off for a long day of paddling back into the estuary. Along the way we saw old cabins and steam engines from the time when the european settlers were trying to farm and harvest timber in this area.
At one point we even saw a sailboat that had made it high into the estuary. Did I mention it was a very high tide?
Then we paddled into the Awaroa Lodge's beach landing. It was quite a busy spot with a number of water taxis picking up and dropping off people, but once the evening arrived, it was a calm beautiful location.
That evening, after a wonderful curry dinner, our guide told us the story of how the park's namesake first saw New Zealand. Abel Tasman was a Dutch explorer who was the first European to sight New Zealand in 1642. He attempted to land, but due to major misunderstandings between the Europeans and the Maori, several Maori and several Dutch were killed and Abel Tasman sailed off. He gave New Zealand its name, but it wasn't until Captain James Cook arrived in 1769 that Europeans stood on the beach.
Our guide also showed us how to make puti puti, which are traditional Maori decorations made from a local flax plant. It was a fun exercise for us all.