Day 5 – 1 September
After breaking down our tent in the morning and saying good-bye to the American girls one last time, Bernie and I began our final day at Abel Tasman, which was the shortest in terms of distance tramped but the longest in terms of total ground covered. Before heading off, though, we took a few photos to remember Waiharakeke Bay by:
Tired and bug-bitten, but still happy!
The DOC sign claimed it would only take 50 minutes to reach Totaranui, and after three straight days of hiking 3 to 5 hours, this was a piece of cake. Since we had to arrive in time for our 10:45 water taxi, we tramped a little quicker than normal, but still stopped for a few photos.
Walking along the Goat Bay beach
I believe that’s Nelson in the far distance
Soon we saw a DOC sign, always a welcome sign (pardon the pun) on long tramps, for informing us where we are and how close we are to our destination. In this instance, the sign showed we were at our destination! It was the same one we’d seen way back in Marahau, and thus the end of our journey – on foot, anyway.
It was both exciting and a little sad to think the tramp was already over. It was at times challenging, but so worth the effort. It also inspired me to see more of what nature has to offer in the States. Sadly, I really haven’t seen much of my country. Funny how it took New Zealand to show me that.
At the Totaranui campsite, we found this map, which showed the ground we’d covered both that morning and the previous day (starting at Bark Bay):
Bernie and I had about half an hour to kill before our water taxi, so what did we do? Take pictures, of course.
The beaches really are golden here.
Our water taxi ride back to Kaiteriteri was a fun experience. It also felt surreal knowing that in a matter of minutes, we passed places we’d tramped in several hours. At Torrent Bay the woman with the dog Mouse, who’d told us where we could get cell phone reception, got on the water taxi with Mouse in tow. He was very well-behaved and as adorable as ever. The driver took past and island with a group of seals, and slowed down significantly so we could get a good look.
The driver then took us to Sandfly Bay, near where we spent the night in Bark Bay, and took the boat up the Falls River until we were under the suspension bridge Bernie and I had crossed two days earlier. The driver said he usually didn’t get to do that, but the water was unusually high for the time of year. Winding up the river, the scenery reminded me of the jungle boat cruise ride and Disneyland.
Once we were under the bridge, the driver cut the engine and the few remaining passengers who hadn’t gotten off in Bark Bay all convened on the back patio. The driver asked where we were all from, and it turned out we had Egypt, Switzerland, England, the U.S. and of course New Zealand all represented in our little group. I thought the stop was quite nice and a testament to New Zealander’s attitude of polychronic time (also known as island time). In the same situation in the States most drivers would be worried about keeping their scheduled times, but here they care more about hospitality.
I love these tall, skinny trees. They remind me of the ones in The Lion King.
We reached Kaiteriteri about 12:30, and Bernie and I find ourselves with over three hours to kill in a beautiful but tiny town with our giant packs. We were only a bit hungry, but knew it’d be best to eat something before our bus. Being winter, only one restaurant was open in the town, and its outside menu showed it to be considerably more expensive than we hoped. After doddling around in the park for a while, we decided to bite the bullet and go halvies on an entree.
The nachos we got were underwhelming and overpriced, but they gave us something to do, and in addition the restaurant’s balcony offered a fantastic view. The women sitting next to us fed the seagulls, who performed quite a melodramatic fight for us. This bird on the right, despite not having a foot, was most definitely the chief of the area and let all the other birds know as much.
After lunch and an iced coffee (the latter of which I bought partially out of guilt, since we spent so long at the restaurant), I crossed the street to capture the view of the beach without the road and streetlights obstructing the view.
Bernie and I decided to check out the park once more, which offered a zipline swing. I’d never been on one that started so high up, so I was a bit scared the first time, but it was truly fun, and we spent the next half hour or so on it. Bernie even tried it backwards one time and standing another, but I wasn’t quite so brave.
Finally enough time had passed for us to board our bus to Nelson. The two-hour drive backtracked to Marahau before heading east toward our destination. It was a quiet but pleasant drive and I snapped a few photos, albeit with my reflection in some of them.
Immediately upon arriving at the Nelson YHA and greeting our roommate (Ingrid from Holland), Bernie and I both grabbed our clean towels the hostel graciously gave us for free and dashed towards the showers. Neither of us had showered since our last YHA visit four days prior, and I don’t think I’d ever been so grateful for one. I’d forgotten how soft my hair could feel.
After three nights of camp food, Bernie and I decided to splurge on something a little nicer for dinner. As we roamed the streets, reading outside menus and deeming most of them too expensive, we stumbled upon the Nelson cathedral.
Nelson from the cathedral's perspective
Once we resumed our restaurant hunt, we realised we simply weren’t going to find anything quite as cheap as we’d hoped for. We settled on Poppy Thai and had great pad thai with red wine. But don’t take my word for it.
I’d never had Thai food served with both sugar and chilli pepper flakes, but they both added great texture and flavour. It was a fantastic treat after so many days of camp food.