Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Abel Tasman National Park

Honeymooners do the Abel Tasman
The blogging is in full swing due to a few injuries that I have acquired. They all end in 'itis' and are uber cool. The injuries make my personality wild too and I do things like rearrange my wardrobe. Whereas previously it had been organised via function (I'm a practical person) I've now gone crazy and it's via colour. Who knew I could be so crazy?! But without further procrastination, here's a few details from running in the Abel Tasman.

The Location

Abel Tasman is a national park in New Zealand located only an hour away from my home town, Nelson. Although public transport in New Zealand is essentially non-existent, there are transport transfers if you are doing any boating tours in the park with some companies. Thankfully my chauffer father drove us in the family limousine.  

Abel Tasman National Park

The Track

There's actually an inland track and a coastal track. But why would you want to miss out on coastline like the Abel Tasman? The track is 51km (32 miles) long and so let's face it, the entire thing could be run as an out-and-back in a day. There is a race on the track but it probably costs a whack to enter and runs only a meagre distance. The track itself starts in Marahau and runs to Wainui, although there is a beach called Kaiteriteri only slightly south and popular with families (and therefore mobbed and slightly unpleasant).
Although on the coast, much of the coastal track is amongst the trees and plants, thankfully providing shade in the summer heat. Whilst not hilly, the track has a few undulations. The track is well worn and easy, even for the most inadequate of the 200,000 walkers that pass through each year.

The Wesley Experience

Here's where I confess that Scott and I began our trip on a speedboat which was hauled into the water by a tractor. This is both horrendously lazy and environmentally unfriendly. We were playing a mixture of roles; runners, travellers and honeymooners. It's hard to get the balance right sometimes. Our boat starts in Marahau, although you can catch one from Kaiteriteri also.

Babes on tour

Farm work
The boat heads to Split Apple Rock which is a rock in the water which looks like a split apple. My photo is not good as, being a good-natured local, I let the young German tourists snap the good spots on the boat for taking photos. For some reason the park is specifically popular with German tourists. I would love to see their advertisements for it.
Split Apple Rock

Then we head further north to check out to Adele Island, an island popular with seals. In late December there are many pups to be seen and even a male and female having a Christmas Eve tussle over who is doing most of the cooking. Some people get off at Anchorage but as it is a beach full of boaties and where many tourists walk from we stay on and head a tiny bit further up to Torrent Bay. This was a strategic move, as being Christmas Eve it is summer in New Zealand and peak tourist season. The track will be busy with walkers carrying large packs and as a runner this is rather frustrating.
Hill reps
Our plan is to run north to Onetahuti (pronounce that you Scots). I can't remember how far it was but the answer is vaguely 'not too far'. I head off at a reasonable pace, eager to be back running and excited to be in the Abel Tasman. Scot's running has been minimal since the Cateran Trail and therefore tags on behind. There are different routes depending on tides. Since the day that we were in the park, the tide was at it's highest over the two week period we stuck to the walking tracks rather than opting to go via the beach.

There's a climb out of Torrent Bay which my father had forewarned us of. I was too excited to be bothered and enjoyed the looks on the tourists' faces when they saw us tearing up. As a child I was terrified of swing bridges and although as an adult I am no risk-taker, I do like to think that I crossed boldly this time round. Don't ask Scott though; just in case he says something different. After some flat forest running we drop down to Bark Bay.

Braving a swing bridge
Getting chased

As I child I walked parts of the park and as a teenager I have camped, kayaked and walked in parts too. However, I don't seem to remember which bays come after each other, nor much about the upcoming track. This is no help to Scott who is beginning to suffer from the heat having been lobstered to a crisp whilst quad biking the day before with my father. Unfortunately, I cannot tell him when the climb out of Bark Bay is going to end.

Approaching Bark Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

The walkers were mostly very courteous and it was great to see many families out walking on their Christmas Eve. Most walkers we saw were carrying large packs indicating that they would be staying in one of the Department of Conservation huts or camping. I suspect that if we were running on an earlier part of the track, we would have seen mostly day-trippers.

At one point I come up a climb and turn a tight corner just in time to see a pair of walkers coming towards us. I successfully manage to get out of their way but am unsuccessful in my continuation of running and instead decide to body-plant myself on the track. It's trail but it's also summer in a warm country and that track is solid. I'm quick to say I'm fine and carry on smoothly. The walkers' mouths were still wide open from witnessing the spectacle that they hadn't the chance to ask.

Abel Tasman running
Due to the high tide there wasn't an awful lot of beach to lay on at lunchtime. Our original stop at Onetahuti, a long stretch of beach, was very narrow and we instead decided to turn back to Tonga Quarry (I promise that it was a lovely beach and not a mining quarry). We see a bird which we think is a penguin but isn't. I am embarrassed that I even thought it but take great pleasure in laughing at other tourists who make the same mistake throughout the afternoon.

Onetahuti, Abel Tasman National Park
As a national park, there are no rubbish bins so you must take out what you bring in. Water also needs to be boiled before it can be drunk. Therefore we spend a few hours on the beach without enough food or water and are relieved when we take the big slow boat back which hosts a basic bar containing local beer from my hometown.

So next time you go to New Zealand and think Christchurch and Queenstown are the places to be, skip them and come up the Abel Tasman instead :)

Merry Christmas from New Zealand

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