Sunday, January 26, 2014

3.1.4 - Abel Tasman

So between school, traveling, and the pure awesomeness of this country, it's been a while since we've posted. Theres a couple updates, so we'll split them up into a couple posts. More reading for y'all!

Picton Ferry
Two weekends ago, the gang pilled up on a ferry and headed across the Cook Straight to Picton. There we picked up a van/microbus Davis lovingly named Ho-Oh (If you don't get the reference you had an unfortunate childhood). We then road tripped all the way to Motueka and stayed at one of the nicest hostels I've every seen. That night Davis and I headed out to the Motueka River to do a little fishing. We unfortunately didn't catch anything, but I did get about 70 bug bites on my legs. And these aren't just your average mosquito bites, these things are big, nasty, and still going strong 10 days later... not fun.

Rollin deep in the microbus
The Motueka River
The next morning we drove over to Marahau, and picked up the some sea kayaks. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into... We put on in Sandy Bay, and were told its a quick 4 or 5 hour paddle to our campsite at The Anchorage, which is about 9km away. We hit the water, and there first thing you notice is how unbelievably blue the water is. You could see straight to the bottom, then you'd look up to the gorgeous island scenery around you. We were paddling around in awe for about an hour when we stopped for lunch on a beach just under half way from our campsite.



Davis is going hard

Thats when things got crazy. There was an island across for our beach that is known for all the seals that live there, so of course we started the paddle across. Then the winds came. It started as a calm breeze, but by the time we hit island, the winds were hitting speeds of at least 30 mph. Straight into our faces. The group was about 14 deep, most of whom were ADPi's who had never been in a kayak, so needless to say people were not happy. After some serious selling, I convinced everyone to paddle over to a sheltered bay on the island were we could hopefully wait out the wind.

Davis' Paint skills outlining the route



Black sand beaches
We sat in that little cove for about 2 hours, but the hurricane force gales kept coming. So finally, we made a break for the seal's rocky beach. We paddled our hearts out and when we got there, THERE WERE NO FREAKING SEALS! I guess even they knew how windy it was, so they took cover. From there the group split up into to groups, the weak, and the strong. The quitters and the winners. The defeated and the triumphant. Most people paddled across the bay one last time, and hiked about 45 minutes to our campsite over the ridge, but a small group of brave souls continued on into a section of water known only as "The Death Mile".

Te Pukatea

This mile the most exposed portion of the paddle, with no bays or coves for cover, and no island protecting you from the wind. It's basically paddling the open ocean. During this portion, I was in a solo 17 ft kayak, and Davis and our friend Hailey were in a 20ft double. When we hit the open section, the wind instantly picked up, and the waves went from about 3 or 4 ft, to 7 ft tall swells. It was amazingly difficult paddling, but at the same time, it was some of the most fun I've had in New Zealand yet. Right before you get all the way through the death mile, there is one stop called Te Pukatea Bay. It is a beautiful beach, and its the most photograph location in the entire park. It was a great little rest stop, and I took one of the most glorious naps of my life on that sand. We made it to the campsite around 7 pm, a full 8 hours after we put on the water. It was the best night's sleep I had had in a very long time.



The next morning we shoved off around 7:30, and it was like an entirely different universe. the water was almost perfectly still, and the wind was no where to be found. we had a short 3 hour paddle back to Marahau, and then headed back to Picton to hop of the ferry. On the way, we crossed over a bridge and so some people swimming in the river below, so of course we pulled over for a quick dip. The river was a bit chilly, but it was some fun cliff jumping and helped get all the salt of our smelly bodies. Despite all we had been (and paddled) through, the weekend was definitely a success. Though we did have a couple of people swear that they'd never get in a sea kayak again (Maggie).

There's more to come,
-Evan




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