Sunday, April 26, 2009

Abel Tasman Day 3

We woke at Medlands Beach to find that the sunrise wasn't in full view either. But it was still pretty atmospheric.

Day three saw the first of two mandatory tide-dependent crossings on the walk,
Onetahuti inlet, which was about three hours into the day's tramp.

Because the tides meant we had to cross after about 14:30 we had absolutely no reason to get up early. The paddlers we were sharing the campsite with didn't need any such pretext to have a relaxing morning...

The first part of the walk was a brief toddle round to Bark Bay (and a stop to fill up our bottles with treated water at the hut).

Like Torrent Bay, Bark Bay had a low tide track that we couldn't take, but it only added a few minutes to our walk.

After Bark Bay, we headed inland for a bit, and found a nice view of ... whatever the mountains behind Nelson are called.

The vegetation around this part was quite Mediterranean again.

We next dropped down to Tonga Bay, which is almost impossibly picturesque -- probably the first really really jaw-dropping bay of the walk.

There's a campsite, named for the granite quarry that used to be here.

It was just a short up and down to Onetahuti Bay, which was quite busy with water taxi and kayakers coming and going. This is about the northern limit of where the kayak hire companies let people take kayaks, for reasons that became pretty clear on our taxi ride out of the park, by when the weather wasn't so great.

We'd planned to have lunch while we waited for the tide to go out enough for crossing the inlet. Maybe this cool shelter was built by people killing time for the same reason.

It was here where sandflies first started to get really annoying, and it wasn't too long before getting a bit wet seemed a better option than hanging around for any longer.

This crossing didn't really seem too scary -- signs were inconsistent about whether you should only cross within three or four hours of low tide, and we crossed about 3.5 hours before low tide and perhaps our knees got a little wet.

After an hour or so of mostly inland tramping we could see the famously posh Awaroa Lodge. It's so posh that it had a helipad, and indeed, a helicopter.

According to people we met at the hut later on, a couple staying at the lodge had decided that they wanted to have lunch in Motueka, so they just jumped in the 'copter and flew there, had lunch, and then flew back. As you do.

If helicoptering around is a bit too ordinary for you, there's also an airstrip.

The path dropped down to the coast and headed around into the highly tidal Awaroa inlet.

The tide was going out, so it looked pretty much as it would when we'd be crossing it the next morning. We never saw the inlet with the tide in, as it got dark before the water got very far in.

Not far along was the hut where we were staying for the night.

Awaroa hut is seriously plush.

Apart from the sandflies lurking in our dorm, that is.

The sub-hut where the DOC wardens stayed looked very nice; solar panels, a balcony and a mighty fine view.

As the sun disappeared beneath the mountains to the west of the hut, the sunset lit up the clouds in a pretty spectacular way that, as usual, was almost entirely impossible to capture on film.

The tide meant we needed to get a seriously early start the next day, but we still managed to stay up reading and chatting for an hour or so after it got dark -- meaning we went to bed at the very rock and roll time of 8:30pm!

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