New Zealand National Parks: Abel Tasman, Arthur’s Pass, Mt Cook 

Monday Februry 20th | Blenheim 🍇🍏 – Marahau 🚣🏻 – Moana ⛺️ | 526 Km

No matter how long Google maps tells you it will take to reach your destination, when in New Zealand you should add at least an extra half hour. For example it will calculate for you that place X is 160km and will take you 2 hours 10 minutes. You know that roads are different in New Zealand and that seems realistic so you figure 2.5 hours to be safe. Wrong. It will be closer to 3 hours especially if there’s roadworks and slow tourist traffic.

While we have never been late for anything yet (that’s surprising for those of you that know me!) we have definitely been pushing the limit. We arrived at Kahu Kayaks at 11:25am for an 11:30 guided sea venture. It was a stunning day in the Abel Tasman National Park: the weather really couldn’t have been better.  Blue skies and a hot sun made for the perfect afternoon. 

Abel Tasman Sea
Our water taxi took us out to Watering Cove where we relaxed and then started our voyage at 1pm. There were ten of us, including our guide Tyler, in five double kayaks.  We were suited up with a neoprene skirt to prevent water getting into the kayak and a life jacket to prevent drowning, obviously. 

After a quick safety briefing we paddled towards Adele Island. A French explorer named it such because he thought it looked like his pregnant wife (I think he just had too many rums).  It is predator free though they do still trap for any vermin that may decide to swim over. (Think rats. Those pricks are really good swimmers).  

Adele Island

The island is designated as a bird sanctuary.  Historically the sounds of bird calls on the island was almost deafening but over time the birds, defenceless due to their inability to fly, have been hunted to low levels by hungry predators.  Even though there are less birds than the past, the ones that are there sing beautiful music. It is so peaceful on the sea and the melodic bird songs make it even more idyllic.  The other noise you hear a LOT in New Zealand is the cicada. I don’t know what type of cicadas they are but if they’re periodic cicadas they spend most of their lives as underground as nymphs and after a decade or more they emerge in huge numbers 

Cicada

We made our way around the south side of the island to a fur seal colony. Fur seals used to be very abundant in New Zealand until they were over hunted and their numbers declined substantiallyfrom 2 million to 200,000.  They became fully protected in 1978 and you are forbidden from going within 20 meters of a colony. Their numbers have increased substantially since then. Normally you can see a lot of the seals sunbathing on the rocks but Tyler told us that at this time of year the males are nowhere to be found (baby comes and bu-bye dadio!) and the females will go hunting for three days at a time before returning to feed their cubs.  We did see a few babies frolicking playfully in the water and they were pretty cute.

Kayaking on Abel Tasman

For the remainder of the afternoon we slowly paddled back towards the main beach where we were picked up at 4pm. I can’t wait to go back there some day. The beaches and coves are only accessible by water or hiking trails. I would love to hike in and camp for a couple of days then kayak out. The company offers all sorts of tours and are willing to work with you to make whatever you like happen so they could drop the kayaks off at the beach for us and then take our backpacks back on the water taxi. 

Since this is my last week in New Zealand we have to start making our way back down to Dunedin (I fly out of there Friday afternoon).  We decided to drive all the way to Moana and camp at Lake Brunner Country Motel & Holiday Park for the night. We arrived around 10:30pm, pitched our tent and called it a night.

Tuesday February 21st | Moana 🏕 – Lake Tekapo ⛪️ | 625km 

The second National Park we drove through was Arthur’s Pass. It was a very scenic drive and we had a great day to see it. We drove through the town of Springfield which had, you guessed it, a doughnut for a roadside attraction. 

The Simpsons Doughnut
We arrived in Tekapo late afternoon. Wow. What a stunning place. After setting up our tent (yay for sun and finally being able to use it again!) we headed off to check out the Church of the Good Shepherd.  Both Val and I assumed it was in the middle of nowhere but it is actually just on the shore of Lake Tekapo. 

The Church of the Good Shepherd

My Cook was the third and final National Park we visited. Unfortunately the visitor centre was closed when we got there but I think the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centrewould be a really neat place to cheat out sometime. 

After supper (venison sausages and lamb sausages: venison won) we played cards until dark. Lake Tekapo is one of the best places for stargazing due to the very low light pollution in the area. The night sky was spectacular. It was a perfect ink blue pierced with so many different constellations. It was so cool to see stars in the Southern Hemisphere as they’re different to what we have at home. I couldn’t take any pictures as I’m not a photographer but here’s a cool shot of the Church (it’s not mine it’s from Fraser Gunn I believe: Astrophotography NZ)

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New Zealand National Parks: Abel Tasman, Arthur’s Pass, Mt Cook 

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