Another day in the southern hemisphere started with more porridge and then a reasonably early departure as we headed out to the Abel Tasman National Park for the day.
The park seemed to mostly unaccessible by road apart the outer limits. It was possible to go by water taxi to various points along the coast of the Park and them take off on various trails some of which seemed to take several days to complete. Not being that adventurous we thought we would try to drive to one of the most scenic points at the southern end before coming back to where the boats departed from in Kaiteriteri. We were not certain it was possible to do this but thought we would risk it.
The drive actually in the park was challenging. Serious inclines and dangerous switchbacks meant I was glad there was not much other traffic about. We found the parking area for the Split Apple Rock and a sign showing which way to walk. However it gave no indication of distance or difficulty. We didn’t know if we would looking down on it from a vantage point as we could see we were still high up on the cliffs or whether we would end up on a beach somewhere. We thought we would start to see how we got on and turn back if necessary.
The trail took us deep down through the rain forest. It was partly a steep boardwalk, partly wooden steps and partly a trail over the tree roots. It was quite a descent and took about 15 minutes before we come to a small beach at the bottom. There were a number of other people on the beach most of whom had taken a kayak to get here. The Split Apple Rock was interesting to see and a little bit disappointing all at the same time. It was a little way offshore and difficult to see properly. We stayed about 5 minutes before starting the long climb back up to the car.
We then drove back to Kaiteriteri which was considered the entrance to the park. This was set around a beautiful bay with a small sandy beach. It was already full of people enjoying the sand and in the sea. We were fortunate to find a parking spot right on the beach and then just as lucky to find a bench on the beach in which to sit. It was all quite lovely. We sat for as long as we could until Karen could start to feel herself burning. Being a fashionista, I did notice that the de facto style for the young Kiwi girls appears to be a 1950’s style Bikini bottoms which seemed to be pulled up way past their belly buttons. I was uncertain if this was a fashion statement or just modesty.
By now we were in need of a drink and went to the only cafe in town. It had a lovely view on the front looking out at the bay. We had drinks and shared a NZ Sausage roll which was quite tasty. We lingered in our prime position seats for probably far too long for the value we had purchased. We would have lingered longer if it wasn’t for the fact that there was no free Wifi and we ran out of things to talk about!
We went back to the car where we had a couple of rolls we had brought with us before heading back to the cafe area as they were selling real fruit ice creams. Karen had a Boysenberry one. It was enormous and was freshly made in front of her with tons of fruit. She enjoyed it tremendously.
It was then time to start the drive back to Nelson, we had only gone a mile when I saw a sign to Little Kaiteriteri and I thought we should investigate. We were pleased we did. It was the residential part of Kaiteriteri with some lovely houses overlooking the bay with an even lovelier and much bigger beach that was almost deserted. We decided to walk the entire length of the bay in both directions. It was a delight.
On the way here we had passed through a small town called Motueka which seemed to have some tea shops so we planned to have a quick stop on the way back. It had seemed busy when we drove through in the morning but this afternoon it was more like a ghost town. The only cafe’s we saw open were empty greasy spoons and did not look very inviting. The only bright spot as we walked along was a shop with the best name for a shop I have seen for a while. It seemed to be an independent gift/toy shop and was called ‘Hello Banana’. For some reason it made me laugh out loud and still amuses me know. I would love to know how they came up with the name, but for me it just works.
We crossed the road and headed back up the street to the car. Just before we got to the car we passed a small sign on the pavement saying Bloom Cafe. It seemed to be pointing in through some garden. Just as I was showing it to Karen a couple came out and gave us the thumbs up saying its great, go in you won’t regret it.
After they had gone I did point out to Karen that they were probably the owners but nevertheless we went into the Gardens. There was a lovely cafe which was full of people. This is obviously the hidden gem of the town and where everyone goes on a Sunday afternoon. Although it didn’t look like the cafe in Eaton Park it had a similar feel. It was really nice as was the NZ scone and tea made with proper tea. It was a really good place although again let down by the lack of Wifi although that was not necessarily their fault.
Back at the Motel we started to gather our things together ready for an early departure in the morning. Karen was keen to go back into Nelson town centre for a hot meal and so we drove the short distance to do so. After a short wander we settled upon a place called Burger Culture which was heaving with people which we took as a good sign. There was a 40 minute wait for food but as we were in no hurry we didn’t mind. Some of the burgers were served in a distinctive black bun, we were not sure what they were made with. We stuck with a traditional Cheeseburger and I must say that the burger which was made on the premises was very good. The bar next door was also doing a roaring trade. It was just a shame that there was table of English lads who were showing themselves and our country up by singing lots of Football songs badly. They had obviously been drinking for some time. Normally all the backpackers have been quiet and respectful as well as conserving their money for their travels. Giving them the benefit of the doubt maybe they had a genuine reason to celebrate.
Before we retired for the night, Karen used Skype to call her Mum. Her brother was there for the weekend and so ended up just speaking to him.
I'm glad to report that I didn't have anyone giving me a commentary on the day as we went along, although I am expecting Michael Portillo anyway now.