Abel Tasman National Park

We woke at 6 to ensure we had sufficient time for the day’s plans. We quickly ate breakfast and grabbed our prepared bags and headed out. We had booked a boat tour of Tasman Bay along the coast of Abel Tasman National Park. The tour company website said the tour would start at a concrete boat ramp in Marahau. However, the receipt we received said to just “Google Abel Tasman Eco Tours and it will lead you directly to us”. Sounded good to us. Wrong! We got to the end point with Siri and found a local neighborhood. We saw a woman walking by and inquired if she knew the area. Unfortunately, no. But she did say that there was a wharf just around the bend. There we went only to find nothing that looked like a boat tour. A concrete pier, a rickety wood ramp and a NZ flag, yes, but most likely not the right spot. Oops. This is why it was good that (1) we left early and (2) we had a NZ SIM card and could make calls. Ring, ring! Called the tour company. No, you appear to be in Riwaka. You need to come to Marahau. Hmmmm…. After some directions saying left, right, left, go straight not to this other town, look for a pirate flag, yada, yada, yada, I reversed the car and skeddadled on my way. After lots of twists and turns and ups and downs and going much faster than I should have we arrived at the right place, confirmed by the pirate flag.We found the boat, a former water taxi and Stu, our guide. What we liked is that there were only 14 of us on the boat and Stu was so knowledgeable about all the marine life, the vegetation and the history of the place. We all climbed aboard, got our life jackets on, listened to a safety brief and took off. He would go for awhile then stop the boat, cut the engine and give us some information. We went along like that until about 10 when he took us into a lovely cove beach where he pulled out coffee and tea and cakes. Yum! We got to chatting with some of the others. There were folks from England and Germany plus an interesting couple from Portland, Oregon. They came here for him to run his first half Iron Man. His cousin had challenged him to it, so he trained for ten months and lost 100 pounds while doing so! Pretty impressive. After we all drank and noshed we went for a nice hike up to the top of the headland for a look at the vegetation and the view.

Back on the boat, we continued as before, stopping at Mosquito Beach (where luckily there were no mosquitos) for lunch. We had ordered lunch when we signed up so that made it easy. Stu handed us our bag lunch and we proceeded to find a spot on the beach to sit and enjoy the meal and the view. A few of the guys went straight into the water. I hesitated. I had worn my suit under my clothes, so I waded in warily. The water was crystal clear, but a bit nippy. I had to decide to either go for it and dive in or forget it. I chose the latter. With the head cold I’ve been unable to shake for the past week I decided that was for the best. Plus I was chicken.

Eventually we all piled back on the boat and continued in search of wildlife. We did see seals and a good many varieties of birds. By the time we returned to Marahau the tide was so far out they had to have their tractor with the trailer come down on the tide flats where Stu drove the boat up on the trailer and the tractor pulled us up onto dry land. A successful adventure complete!

We drove the hour back into Nelson uneventfully, stopping only for a few supplies. Though we did see this 4 x 4 which must have had a story to it. One never knows what one will come across on the back roads here. We decided we ought to go out for a seafood dinner to celebrate the end of our south island stay. We went to ask our host if she had any recommendations and she suggested a place called The Boat Shed. So off we went, finding it and parking easily right along the harbor’s edge. It obviously was an old boat shed, sitting on pilings over the water. We enjoyed a delicious dinner of snapper while watching a sailing class ply the harbor. Not long after returning to the house, Andre, the home owner, came up and asked if we’d like to join him in a glass of wine. Well, yes, of course! We sat in their beautiful garden as the sun set, sipping wine and exchanging life stories. His was fascinating. We reluctantly called it quits for the night.

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