"Stunning Walk"

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

As our mission to find a reasonably priced item or activity in New Zealand continued, we left the Rotorua area and headed south with brief stops in Taupo (the Skydiving Capital of New Zealand), Taihape (the Gumboot Capital of New Zealand- really… the best symbol this town could identify with was a rubber boot?), Bulls (the Bull Capital of New Zealand- this town was very enthusiastic about using ‘Bull’ as a descriptor, and, no bull, their sister city is Cowes in England), and Wellington (the actual capital of New Zealand), where we caught the ferry to the South Island. As we finished up our journey through the North Island, not only were we unsuccessful in experiencing a low cost, high value transaction, the bar actually went to a new low at the Taihape Riverview Holiday Park (many of the camper van parks in NZ named themselves ‘River’, ‘Lake’, or ‘Forest’ View but they don’t actually have a view of anything magical- this one was effectively a gravel parking lot next to a 24 hour cement factory). All NZ parks use coin operated laundry machines, most have high priced, slow speed WiFi, many have coin operated showers, but this one had a coin operated TV in the common area (50 cents for 10 minutes of TV), and all of this is on top of the high rate you pay just to park for the night! We did get to watch 2 free movies on the car ferry from Wellington to Picton (although given the $300 price tag I’m not sure the word ‘free’ is applicable).

A torrential downpour and wind storm shortened our stay at Picton, the entry point to the South Island, to just one night but as we escaped, the skies started to clear and by the time we were half way to Able Tasman there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. Able Tasman is promoted by NZ Tourism as the “second best walk in the world” (just behind the “best walk in the world”, the Milford Track, which is further south), but a very helpful iTourism guy in nearby Motueka suggested that there is one particularly “stunning” section of Able Tasman and he sold us on the idea of combining this section with a morning of kayaking with fur seals. This same iTourism dude highlighted a number of 'must-sees' throughout the South Island and the list started with the "Split Rock" we could see on the way to Able Tasman- we did as instructed and after a bit of winding up and down driving we saw a rock that looked split...nice rock!

The start of our kayaking adventure was a bit odd as we piled people and kayaks into our boat (while it was still on the trailer), and then had a tractor tow us out to the waters edge (low tide) where our floating actually began. Another divorce kayak for two but the best rudder controls we’ve ever had so as much as DH tried to spin us in a circle, we were moving in a straight line with pace. We saw the fur seals up close (the babies were particularly curious) and a number of bird types, and after a morning of ocean cruising we hit the beaches for a hike/trek/tramp to a designated spot where we'd be picked up by a water taxi. "Stunning" and "second best walk in the world" dramatically overstate the case but it was a lush coastal forest with occasional ocean views... nice trees!
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