To Abel Tasman we go!
Yes, Google had sufficiently prepared us for the 5.5+ hour drive that we would be taking today to Motueka, a small town near Abel Tasman National Park. So, we roused ourselves awake and packed up our things, doing our best to not wake our two roommates, all by 8 a.m. Good job team. Rather than indulge ourselves on the hostel’s gracious selection of toast and cereal we ventured over to the bakery Leah had discovered yesterday for some breakfast snacks before hitting the road.
The previous night Leah had done a fabulous job of providing us with far too many options with which to break up the drive leading us to settle on absolutely nothing. So, we used the first hour or so of the drive to make up our minds. Or really, just let Leah pick because none of us were being particularly helpful on the matter. On we drove for 3 hours in and out of the Southern Alps, skipping the route through the pass in hopes of seeing some nice coastal views, until we arrived in the tourist town of Punakaiki, or “Pancakey” as Leah has taken to calling it. Why “Pancakey,” you ask? Good question! Punakaiki is the home of the Pancake Rocks, rock formations that jut out into the ocean and feature many thin layers of sediment, making them look similar to everyone’s favorite breakfast treat.
Arriving in Pancakey, we quickly parked our car amongst the already packed and disorganized parking lot (Where had all these people come from? The roads were virtually empty!) before visiting the local information center to get some guidance on a nice hour-long hike. But, before we could do that we needed to see the Pancake Rocks! Luckily they were right across the street. We ventured onward through the path flanked with flax and ferns before arriving at the first of many overlooks where we got to take in the beauty of the rocks surrounded by groups of somewhat obnoxious tourists. Why are your children wearing headphones and carrying their iPad while on this 20 minute walk? Also, dude, why do you have a GoPro attached to the end of a pool skimmer pole? Bah!
We completed the circuit before collecting our car and continuing north to the nearby Porarari River where we would take an hour-long clamp before continuing the drive (But, not before we gulped down some PB&J, cheese, carrots, and hummus). The walk, itself, was stupid stunning! It took us through the rainforest, along the river nestled between two cliffs. Gosh darn-it, New Zealand, you are too much!
By 1:30 p.m. we were back in the car and on the road towards Motueka, another 3 hours and 17 minutes according to Google, but the coastal views did not disappoint. The road eventually turned inland, up and over hills, through many cow, horse, and sheep pastures all while taking in the musical stylings of Doug’s phone for better or worse. We also spent a good 5 minutes trying each of our free Cadbury chocolates and coming to the conclusion that they were all really awful so rather than eat them, we tossed them. When we were getting close Leah presented us with another option: Do we continue to Nelson to tour that town or stop at a sheep farm for cheese and a winery for, well, wine? Well, in the end, we did neither! The team opted for food/drink over more driving/walking so we used Google to navigate us appropriately, but Google gave up halfway there leaving us unsure of where the destination was actually supposed to be. Oh well, we just wanted to get to our cottage by this point.
Thankfully, a short while later, Google chose to cooperate and we made our way to Motueka just as rain started to fall. Our drive took us out onto a peninsula comprised of a few vineyards until we reached our intended destination where Stephen worked with the lady to get us checked in while the rest of us Ooooh’d and Aaaaah’d over their loving German Shepherd that Lynn named Murphy (Real name: Bella). Jennifer (the lady) then drove us down to the cottage which smelled like your grandmother’s (Note: musty) and featured a new concept: an exterior bathroom. Oh joyous! But, heck, can you really complain? We were situated on a peninsula surrounded by the ocean. And, oh, did I mention that we can see the ocean from the kitchen window? Pretty sweet, despite the musty smell (or maybe, thanks to?).
We spent the next few hours stuffing our faces with Indian food and shopping for supplies for the next two days eventually ending up back at the cottage. Being a bit unsatisfied with the day’s mileage, the team took a leisurely walk along the beach before undoing all that hard work by participating in our own New Zealand beer tasting before calling it a night.
Daily Walking Mileage: 9.14
- Despite Leah’s (the vegetarian) disappointment, we have not eaten the fish that is popular in the area, white bait. Their season is between May and November. We are justifying our choice to not eat it because of its very unappetizing name.
- Around Motueka, amongst the vineyards and various agriculture fields, there are hops farms. It grows upwards, like a vine, along rope.
- Broth is kept in the ethnic section of the supermarket. Not in the soup section for some reason. This took us a good 15 minutes to figure out.