Sunday 18 January 2009 - Saturday 24 January 2009 26 °C
It rained all the way to Abel Tasman and for the afternoon when we got there, we were a bit worried because the next day we were booked on a sea kayaking trip! Eek, maybe we were going to get a bit wet! However we needn’t have feared because the morning arrived and it was beautiful- lovely and warm. Off down to the beach to meet our guide and get our kayak instruction. Mum and Dad, together in a kayak….was this a good idea??! These were proper sea kayak jobbies with a rudder and pedals and everything! None of the ‘throw you in and see if you float’ approach you get in Asia! All the instruction was going swimmingly until capsizing was mentioned…at this point Mums face did drop a little! When we were put through a drill of how to unhook the splash skirt if we happened to be stuck in the kayak underwater…Mums face dropped a bit more! No time to think about that though as we were off, heading out into the, thankfully calm, waters of the Tasman Bay.
Had a leisurely paddle up the coastline to Split Apple Rock, as the name suggests, a big rock that’s split in two! The Maori legend goes that the god of the sea and the god of the land thought it was a magical egg and both had dibs on it. They got into a fight and broke it into two halves, they discovered it wasn’t actually a magical egg it was just a plain old rock and soon lost interest! Or for the more geologically minded- its thought that there was a supporting rock that was eroded by the sea and as it disintegrated, caused the rock on top to split open as it fell.
We had a short break on the beach and had a look around a few caves which at high tide you can actually paddle through. Our guide suggested if anyone wanted to, now was the time to swap kayak partners! So how were things in the Thomas kayak??! Well with Dad in the back in charge of steering and Mum in the front navigating I think they were plotting a course for divorce!! Especially when Mum caught Dad taking photos instead of paddling!
Paddled back to Kaiteriteri beach, were definitely ready for our lunch! In the afternoon we hopped aboard the catamaran to head further up the coast to Anchorage, a beautiful stretch of golden sandy beach. After a trek over the headland we reached Te Pukatea Bay, an even more beautiful cove and we spent the afternoon relaxing before catching the catamaran back. We had a brilliant day, thanks to Uncle David and Auntie Barbara for a great Christmas present!!
Another day, another foray into the national park. This time under our own steam! We went tramping (Kiwi speak for walking!) to Tinline bay for another afternoon of relaxation next to the turquoise waters.
It was our last full day on the South Island and we drove to Nelson, a small town to have a look around, then headed on to Picton where we were due to catch the ferry to the North Island the next morning.
Mum and Dad had upgraded us to Club Class so we spent the voyage drinking and eating the complimentary tea and biscuits, reading all the free magazines and watching tv, this was the life! The three hour journey was over in a flash and we were in Wellington before we knew it. That evening Mum cooked a roast dinner, my first since I left the UK! We had everything, home-made Yorkshires, gravy, stuffing, the works! Thanks Mum!
Spent a full day exploring Wellington, Visited Old St Pauls, one of the oldest churches in NZ, made from wood which is very strange when we are so used to seeing churches made of stone. The church had a strong connection with the GI’s based in NZ during WWII and there was a small exhibition documenting this with video interviews. I still maintain that’s the key to putting on a successful exhibition- the human element, all the best museums I’ve been to have had that.
Walked past the government buildings, the very strange beehive parliament building, which looks like a massive old slide projector! Then it was onto Te Papa the national museum of New Zealand where we whiled away the afternoon, rode the earthquake simulator (quite realistic!) and stared in amazement at the very weird colossal squid!
In the evening I caught up with an old school friend. We went to the Botanical Gardens where they are holding a series of concerts over the summer (NZ’s summer that is!) and every night in Jan and Feb there is a free concert! Brilliant! Took a picnic and sat around chatting, really nice relaxed atmosphere and the band were great!
Once more it was back on the road, north to Napier, a town famous for all its Art Deco buildings, Dad and Mum were in their element! It’s a shame because some of the buildings have modern signage now which kind of spoils the impact but I suppose at the end of the day people do have to run businesses in the town. We were planning to camp there the night but instead pushed onto Lake Taupo the biggest lake in NZ. All parked up now and just had some dinner. The weather has been lovely today, pleased to say I could get the shorts on and get the tan going again! The landscape is very different here in the North Island, on the whole a lot flatter, the roads are better here and a lot less twisty!