After stocking up on groceries, very expensive (but not top shelf) gin and vodka (and tonic and limes of course), and moderately expensive facial products, Jeff and I headed off for our first national park adventure on the South Island. After talking with numerous people, we decided to stay in Little Kaiteriteri, as the name says, a very small town (town is even too big a word for it), just to the south of the park. Found another nice motel here, Torlesse Motels with views to the Tasman Sea.
We arrived late in the day and scoped out options for taking a boat into the park the following day, then packed up a bag full of provisions, including our spendy gin and vodka, and headed to the small but stunning gold-sand beach less than five minutes from our place.
As mentioned before, we were in New Zealand during spring. The plus side: peonies were in bloom, so I got them twice in one year! The down side: the weather was really spotty. We seemed to be visiting places just before or after good weather, but rarely during warm, sunny days. So rather than the bright sun, sapphire water and golden sand experience, we had the cloudy/rain, multi-colored water, and golden sand experience. With some big waves thrown in for good measure.
We decided that despite the weather we would take the Sea Shuttle “Discovery Day” tour, which included a boat trip from Kaiteriteri (the town next to our spot, Little Kaiteriteri). The boat motored up the coast to Totaranui, dropping people off at different bays along the way. We headed out on relatively calm waters, and the sun peeked out enough to throw some low rainbows.
About a third of the way through the trip, winds came in and the sea got big. Our little boat was going up and down waves, into and out of troughs. All of which made Jeff very happy and me, thankfully, only a bit green.
After at least an hour (or so it felt) of tossing upon the waves, we were dropped off at Medlands Beach to walk 10.5 kilometers to Anchorage Beach where we would be met by the boat and returned to Kaiteriteri. The weather report had called for the rain to lift by mid-day, when our hike was to start. The weather did not check in with the weather report… Thankfully the boat operators had a disposable rain poncho. Aside from feeling a bit like a walking trash bag, I at least did not get soaked through. And thankfully we were not doing the entire Abel Tasman Coast Track, one of the “Great Walks” of New Zealand. This one stretches for 60 kilometers and takes three to five days to complete. The people we saw who were clearly walking that did not look overly happy.
Here is where the pictures take over. It was a stunning walk, and as the photos of Jeff and me show, we were certainly not suffering. Storyline continues in the photo captions…
And here some artsy shots; sea shells and burnt driftwood arranged on golden sands:
The next day, still a bit on the rainy side, we headed out to a small local park known as “Resurgence,” officially Kahurangi National Park. The north branch of the Riwaka River emerges from a network of caves under Tanaka Hill. The color of the water where it surfaces is mesmerizing. Unsurprisingly the area is sacred to the Maori. A thoroughly beautiful and peaceful spot, with an almost weighted silence to it. Almost as if you want to hold your breath the whole time you’re there.
The rest of our time here was spent walking back and forth over the rocks (tide in) and around the rocks (tide out), from Little Kaiteriteri to (big?) Kaiteriteri, alternately in search of flat whites and green-lipped mussels. Many New Zealanders come here to vacation annually. A thoroughly enjoyable spot, even better I’m sure when the sun shines bright.