You Could Practically Wear Sneakers

Today’s post is brought to you by Leah and Stephen! Giving Lynn and Doug a much deserved break from blogging (although we are writing it the day after, which Doug frowns upon).

New Year’s Eve ended up being a quiet affair, during which we did not make it to midnight, drink our champagne or even finish the bottle of wine we opened (much to Leah and Lynn’s chagrin). This meant that New Year’s Day we were up early to finish food and get ready for our first exciting adventures of 2016. Lynn, being ever industrious, was up first to make 8.75 sandwiches (7 full pb and j, one hummus and feta, one decent half sandwich, and one mini half sandwich). Stephen was up next to finish as much food as possible, including the last of the New Years Eve crisp we had made the night before with local boysenberries. We were able to pack up most of our remaining food but sadly we had to part ways with some lettuce and spinach that didn’t get used the night before despite Lynn and Leah’s attempts to find thrifty uses for them.

Back to Abel Tasman we went to begin our adventure along the coast track. We had wanted to take an aqua taxi up the park a bit and walk back, but due to our last minute booking the night before we had to walk up and taxi back, which meant we had a schedule to keep: 3:45pm at Bark Bay or we’d be stuck camping in the park. As we began our 25km (~15mi) walk, we decided that our total hike time would be the “daily bet” (apparently it had become a tradition after just one day). Doug guessed we’d end at 2:30, Leah at 3, Lynn at 3:05, and Stephen at 3:15.  After some hearty debate once we’d started the walk, we decided today’s prize would be selecting the first hard-boiled egg when we got back to the car! (We had meant to pack the eggs, but alas, they’d be a good post hike reward).

Ready for the day's adventures.
Ready for the day’s adventures.
Last time Doug was here he stayed in these teepees at the entrance to the park. We have gladly graduated to adult accommodations.
Last time Doug was here he stayed in these teepees at the entrance to the park. We have gladly graduated to adult accommodations.

So, the plan for the day was a 25km (~15mi) hike along the Abel Tasman coastal track. The total track is about 55km, depending on the route, and is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. The walk was estimated to take 8 hours and given our starting time, Doug’s aggressive estimate was 6. So, on our way! The sky was blue, the water was a lovely aqua, and the plant life was green! You knew it was vibrant because even Doug was commenting on the amazing colors.

We “meandered” (read: basically ran) along the path, meeting some characters along the way and quickly commenting on the smell of some of the folks exiting the park early (who had clearly been camping and hiking with full packs). We were often quiet, but interspersed random commentary about how horrible the views were, how sweaty we were getting, what a great snack risotto bags would be, how much we missed the one true Nathan (our glacial hike guide) or how many sandwiches we planned on eating.  Lynn was the official time keeper, ensuring we were keeping 66% ahead of the park provided estimated pace to make our boat back.

Here we go!
Here we go!
What a fabulous view! The hike was full of these, though we were often deep in the forest.
What a fabulous view! The hike was full of these, though we were often deep in the forest.
Tidal flats at the beginning of the hike.
Tidal flats at the beginning of the hike.
Doug maintains that this is the most beautiful place on Earth.
Doug maintains that this is the most beautiful place on Earth.
Until the clouds started coming in...but that just made the distant mountains look really cool.
Until the clouds started coming in…but that just made the distant mountains look really cool.
Another fabulous view.
Another fabulous view.

About 3 hours in we arrived at the first major stopping point: Anchorage Bay (where we got picked up from our kayaking trip yesterday). Per our “meandering” pace, we had trimmed 33% of the time off of a walk that was supposed to take 3 hours and 50 minutes! After some necessary bio breaks, water refilling, the first round of sandwiches and some stretching, we were ready to head off again. Doug had sat on the ground too long and was worried he wouldn’t be able to get up again, thankfully Lynn, who’s some sort of super hero, pulled him back to his feet.

We set back across the beach and then had a tough decision to make: do we take the low tide track and save an hour, or do we take the high tide track to guarantee dry feet and see the Cleopatra Pools?  After some hemming and hawing and attempting to see how fast the low tide was turning into high tide, we opted for the high tide track to guarantee our dry feet. Doug was certain that this 1 hour additional hike time would be his undoing on the day’s bet. Oh well!

Figuring out the times.
Figuring out the times and which way we should go.

We continued blasting past distance markers in 66% of the predicted time and found ourselves with more than enough time to take the offshoot to Cleopatra’s Pools. A supposedly serene river view turned out to be too crowded and could have been skipped, but since we were there we decided to walk across the first pool to see the view.  Leah was impatient with the slow, unprepared tourists and instead of crossing rocks, slipped in and ended up walking across the stream with fully submerged feet.  We all decided that she will henceforth be nicknamed WWI Leah as she was now certain to suffer from trench foot.  Leah made the most of the situation an kept her feet in the water to help Lynn traverse unscathed.

Cleopatra's pools overrun with loud tourists. We did get to see a German man take a very uncomfortable looking rock slide down and that was slightly amusing.
Cleopatra’s pools overrun with loud tourists. We did get to see a German man take a very uncomfortable looking rock slide down and that was slightly amusing.

We soldiered on, ate some sandwiches without breaking pace, and a mere 3 hours later, we had made it to our destination: Bark Bay! In a narrow, but decisive victory, Doug prevailed in the day’s bet as we arrived at 2:40! We had all discussed going for a celebratory swim, however the sky had become a bit overcast and none of us were warm enough by the time we got there. (This is impressive given everyone’s sweat levels on the trail, including what looked like spontaneous lactation from Lynn which turned out to be underboob sweat, thankfully). Our pace was so fast we ended up with a bit more time than we had hoped on the beach, but made the most of our time snacking, re-hydrating and swatting the bees and flies away until we boarded our water taxi back to Marahau.

Doug walking back from an attempted rope swing. It almost ended very poorly for certain parts of him.
Doug walking back from an attempted rope swing. It almost ended very poorly for certain parts of him.
Leah emptying sand out of her shoes.
Leah emptying sand out of her shoes.
This tiny town exists entirely within the park. They were having New Year's Day celebrations that looked like what you would expect from small town America on the 4th of July.
This tiny town exists entirely within the park. They were having New Year’s Day celebrations that looked like what you would expect from small town America on the 4th of July.
Getting some mid hike fuel in our bellies.
Getting some mid hike fuel in our bellies.
This white flowering trees were everywhere, adding some sparkle to the hike.
This white flowering trees were everywhere, adding some sparkle to the hike.
Lynn was not comfortable with the swing bridge.
Lynn was not comfortable with the swing bridge.
Stephen's sunscreen was so thick this was the only way it could be spread. We all thought it looked like calamine lotion on chicken pox.
Stephen’s sunscreen was so thick this was the only way it could be spread. We all thought it looked like calamine lotion on chicken pox.
We made it! The team is exhausted but thumbs (or arms) up all around.
We made it! The team is exhausted but thumbs (or arms) up all around.

Back at the car, we did some some quick stretching, Doug selected his prize boiled egg, and some shoe removal. Not wanting the day to end we drove along winding roads to meet up with Lynn’s childhood friend, Cait! We threaded through some mountains, along the coast, through Nelson, and finally made it to Havelock, where Cait’s new boat was docked.  Since Havelock is the “World Capital for Green-Shelled Mussels” (and since there’s only three restaurants there anyway) we settled in to the Mussel Pot for a large dinner to help recover from our 15 mile hike. We caught up with Cait and Brad, heard about their new adventures in sailing, and filled our tummies with the local green mussels and other tasty treats. After dessert and some coffee for Lynn, we said our goodbyes and headed off to our AirBnB for the night in Whatamango Bay. Relieved to have fast WiFi again, we all caught up on events near and far before hitting the hay in preparation for another big day!

New Zealand greenshell mussels.
New Zealand greenshell mussels.

Mileage total: 20.75 mi

Fun Facts:

  • Today was Doug’s first time getting over 40,000 steps. We debated if he’d get there or not, but he did!
  • Havelock is the world capital of green muscles, hence they were eaten for dinner.

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