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Saturday 2 Mar 2013
Marahau, New Zealand

A little slice of paradise

I have spent the last three days in Marahau, right on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park on the northern tip of the South Island.  It really is beautiful here.  A fabulous place to relax from the bustle of bus life and fast-paced travel that I have been doing for the last month. My cabin is one of the brand new ones (yay) which has not yet had electricity connected (boo) but I now have a four-bed room to myself (yay), so it is not all bad.  I've come over to the kitchen area to charge my gadgets and write up my diary in the sunshine.  Life is really not bad.

We were due to have an overnight stop in Picton, ready to meet the bus coming over on the ferry from Wellington the next day, but got in early enough to hop straight onto the bus coming in the same morning, which meant I got an extra night here instead.  It also meant I caught up with Abi, a friend from the Stray bus up to Bay of Islands a fortnight ago.  

We signed up for a morning's sailing up the coast on a catamaran, but unfortunately the weather decided not to go in our favour.  It remained stubbornly overcast without a puff of wind, so the skipper didn't manage to get the sail up once.  Despite this, it was nice to be out on the water. We were dropped off on the beach at Anchorage.  The sun came out at last, but the water was still far too cold for a swim regardless of how clear and tempting it looked.

Abi, Lauren and I walked back together.  The coastal tracks throughout Abel Tasman have been consistently voted near the top of New Zealand's Great Walks list and it was easy to see why.  After an initial steep climb, the path stayed mostly level for the 12km walk back to Marahau. The signs suggest this is a 4 hour walk and our drivers had said it was really only 3.  We managed to make it 5 hours, by stopping for photos and simply marvelling at the views.  The paths lead through the edge of the forest so each turn gives you a glimpse of something new, such as sparkling turquoise waters, sandy beaches, rocky outcrops and the ever present tree ferns (James, I am a little bit obsessed with these now you have introduced me!)  The sun stayed out in full the whole way back, so we saw the park in all its glory.

After 5 hours we were tired, hungry and thirsty, so Lauren and I headed straight for Fat Tui's burger place, reported to rival only the Ferg Burger in Queenstown for best burger in NZ.  Sadly their GF offerings were limited so I had to sit and watch Lauren eat an enormous burger while I had a grilled fish salad.  Nice, but it was definitely one of those times I wish I hadn't asked!

The next day, Lauren and I took the water taxi (speedboat) all the way to the top of the park at Totaranui.  We had the sun all day, so the views of the coastline were even better than the day before.  The water taxi also took us into beautiful little tidal coves and around Tonga Island reserve to see the baby fur seals happily lounging on the rocks.  We got dropped at Onetahuti beach and walked another 6km of the coastal paths back to Bark Bay.  This path was steeper in places, but no less beautiful.  We even had time to get in a bit of sunbathing before the water taxi arrived to take us back.  I'd recommend these water taxis as by far the best way to get around the coast for acces to different parts of the trails.  There are bunkhouses throughout the park, so a lot of people get dropped off further up and do a 2-day walk back.  

The bus moved on Friday morning, so I waved farewell to my new friends and enjoyed a well-earned lie in.  I had a chat with Mum and Dad via Viber (Free app which gives free phone calls on wifi) and set off in the sunshine with a big grin on my face.  Amazing how a simple chat with home can influence your emotions all day! I walked an hour back along the trail and down onto Coquille Bay, a small beach that I had to myself for most of the time I was there.  I had a curious seagull for company while I ate my sandwich - he snuck a few steps closer along a driftwood log each time I looked away from him, but unlike the menaces in Llandudno, he refrained from divebombing me.  This time I did brave a swim in the sea.  After the initial squeal-inducing iciness, it was actually very refreshing and I acclimatised quickly.   

On the way back, the tide had gone out far enough for me to release my inner child and play with the rocks in the sand.  The tide here is huge - it travels up to 60m and rises by about 4m - so several of the beaches are effectively closed off at high tide, or have an additional hour added to the walking times.  Just at the end of the path at Marahau, they have put in 4 long bridges to cover the tidal estuary.  At low tide, people use the big stones to write names and messages in the sand.  I couldn't resist joining in...

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Zobeedoo's Big World Adventure, Part I

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Marahau Bridges, Abel Tasman

Marahau Bridges, Abel Tasman

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