In my penultimate South Island trip of the summer, I decided to visit Abel Tasman National Park. After all, it would be a crime to live only 1 hour from the golden shores of Marahau without dipping my toes in the sand.
I jogged into the National park expecting beautiful beaches and sea-side relaxation - but once again, I succeeded in making the easiest of the 'Great Walks', into a rip-roaring adventure with uncertainty lying around each corner.
I started out with a couple from Wellington as they began their 3-day northern hike, but within twenty minutes, I was bored and my eyes were drawn away from the trail-highway, to the seductive coastline. I strode along a dozen beaches while hundreds of holiday-makers sailed, swam, and sand-castled. Meanwhile I revelled at being off the beaten track once again, boulder hopping around the rocky coastline and occasionally squeezing through tight caves.
Eating nectarines in the shade of the cool forest at Watering Cove campsite was excellent, the air smelt like summer. Golden.
After a leisurely trip north, I ducked my head into Anchorage hut - lifting my Hut Bagging total to over a half century. Though on most hot days of summer the hut would be the last place I'd want to stay, a sleeping bag on the beach would be all you need for a great night sleeping under the stars.
Each clearing through the cool forest revealed a new hidden bay waiting to be explored. Judging by the huge number of kayaks at each cove, the sea-borne travellers were getting the best of it.
Dirt-crete: thousands of tourists pound and compress this trail into a fast, yet exceptionally hard running surface.
Seals and White-faced Heron were rampant along the coast, hissing and inhaling violently as I burst into their territory. Threatened, as I cut the line between them and their offspring, I sent the oily creatures flapping into the ocean ... safety, for us both. Meanwhile, I managed to capture our mutual fear as we dodged and darted each other along the narrow strip of traversable terrain.
I present to you, In the Hall of the Seal King.
The sunset was a mere reminder of the epic-ness had that day. Wood-fired pizza with a band of Dutchmen, couldn't be better!