Wednesday, 13 October 2010

I'm back in Fiji ... just without the shorts

Tuesday 12th October 2010

MP3 track of the day: Honeymoon – The Young Victoria

Weather: Hoooot, but cool in the shade.

I almost overslept. I didn't have a very good nights sleep last night, probably due to a couple of reasons. Firstly I slept a lot yesterday and maybe my body didn't want the amount of sleep I had planned to give it; secondly I always worry about oversleeping and not hearing my alarm when I have an early start. Anyway I was awake on and off most of the night until around 5:50am when, in another ten minutes, my alarm would be sounding. Not to wake my other room mates up I canceled my alarm and decided to just 'rest my eyes', as my dad would say, for the remaining ten minutes. 6:10am was when I finally woke up; overslept by ten minutes; never mind. I got ready and by 7:10am I was waiting at the bus stop just as the lady at my hostel reception had instructed me to do so.

The bus to Abel Tasman was early, which was good as that meant we would have longer in the park. On the way I just looked at New Zealand as it past me by until we arrived at the headquarters of our water taxi.

There are only three ways into the Abel Tasman Nation Park; fly, walk or by water. The water option was cheaper than flying and less time consuming than walking, therefore the best option. I spoke to different people who were doing to board this taxi and seeing where they were going to get off; most day trippers were going to get off at Bark Bay, which was the longer walk. I, and four others, were heading to Anchorage, the first and closest stop. I was happy that I had chosen the shorter walk as this would give me more chance to take my time and take photos. I also hoped to visit Cleopatra's pool and the Pitt Head loop trail, both highly recommended from my hostel.

We boarded the water taxi on the main land; at this stage the boat was still on it's trailer which was attached to a tractor. The tractor was going to reverse us into the water and then the boat would just slide off the trailer and away we would go … a bit James Bond I thought. All went well and our skipper was soon showing us the exits (which wasn't difficult to work out), how to put on our life jacket and all the scenery and wildlife (including a blue penguin) along the way. Being a 'water taxi veteran', from my countless experiences within Fiji, I knew where the driest part of the vessel would be and so I headed there.

To my horror, just like in Fiji, when we were docking at my stop there was no jetty. I was just about to undo my shoes and take off my socks when the 'skipper' announced that he would try to hold the vessel steady near some rocks so that he could put a board across from the boat to the rocks and we could then get to the beach without the removal of our shoes. He did so brilliantly and I for one was very glad.

My first look at Abel Tasman National Park was the beach at Anchorage Bay and I have to admit I was excited on what the rest of the day was going to hold in store for me. I felt as if I had returned to Fiji though I didn't need to wear shorts here. Okay if I'm honest the beach wasn't quite as perfect as the ones in Fiji, but it was very nice all the same.

I headed in land to have a little bite to eat and to consult the map. First up was the Pitt Head loop, a short one hour walk with great views, apparently. Luckily I found the sign to the Pitt Head loop almost immediately and I followed it eagerly. The views were sensational and my camera was loving the surrounding landscape (though not so much the low sunon the water, as I've just found out looking back at my photos). It was very beautiful up here and so hot that I was down to my t-shirt, just like in Fiji.

After this walk I wandered around and headed up a steep incline out of Anchorage Bay and towards Cleopatra's Pool. I didn't know it at the time but the walk out of Anchorage Bay, and the Pitt Head loop, were going to be the best views I would see today. One lookout just as I left the bay had a sheer cliff edge in front of me that plummeted into crystal clear water. Lifting my head up I could then see forested islands with white sandy beaches and rocky sides to my left, and a coastal line with more forest, beaches and a more gentle gradient up to some hills to my right. Along way in front of me I could see a snow capped range of mountains which, oddly, looked somehow in place with all these beaches to my left and right.

Once at the top of Anchorage Bay I was greeted by a T-junction. To my left was marked my final destination which was, according to the sign three hours and thirty minutes away. To my right was the opposite direction; there was no mention of Cleopatra's Pool however after consulting my map, I decided that I needed to go right, away from my final destination, for a short while before I would reach this pool.

It was now 12:10pm and here I was confronted by a problem. I had found a sign to Cleopatra's Pool but it said the estimated walking time there was forty-five minutes (therefore 1hr 30m / 2hrs round trip with photos). This would put the time at around 2pm but my final destination, according to these signs, was another four hours away making my time of arrival back at the water taxi headquarters 6pm. As the bus left for Nelson at 5pm this wasn't much good. I debated internally about whether I should go to this pool; you see one thing about New Zealand is that there walking estimated times are a little 'off' shall we say. I reckon they got a lady called Flow, in her mind 80's, with only one leg (that was missing it's knee cap) and who had lost one of her crutches to do the times … but I hadn't been to this park before, the times could be right … should I risk it?

I decided not to for two reasons; most importantly is that if I missed the bus it was a taxi ride home which would have probably cost as much as my sisters wedding (Nelson was an hour and a half away from here). Secondly I couldn't afford to stay the night in the local town, Marahau, as I was due to catch a bus to Franz Joseph the following morning. So with my internal debate over I headed back along the 4hr trek to the water taxi headquarters. It was soon apparent that Flow had done the times for this national park but there wasn't much I could do about it now. The coastal track, which people rave about, is actually quite boring due to it being flanked by trees on both sides. This means that views are few and far between, with me usually having to peer out between branches. There were a few look out points, which were beautiful, but not enough for me to stop arriving 1hr 30mins early for my bus back to Nelson (thanks Flow).

Whilst waiting I bought an ice cream (yum) and rested my weary feet. I spent most the time thinking that I probably could have made it to that damn pool, but it looks like I'll have to 'Google it' to see what it looks like.

It wasn't long before others arrived and then the time flew very quickly until the bus picked us up. Tired, and err … no just tired really, I boarded the bus and again 'rested my eyes'. I'm back at the hostel now and I was going to just eat some biscuits and crisps, that I had left over from the walk, for tea. However I'm starving and so I think I'll go over my budget a little (as I was $20 under yesterday) and purchase a take away Pizza … too tired to cook.

The next important thing is to have a early night because guess what, another early start tomorrow. My bus leaves at 7:15am to Franz Joseph and I don't want to miss it … think I'll set two alarms tomorrow.

Toodle Pip!

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