. It was probably the most winding of roads I have ever driven. The posted speed limit was 60 but I don't know how you could even get going faster that 45 as many of the corners were more than 90 degrees. We stopped on the way for lunch in Havelock, the green lipped mussel capital of the world to test them out. We had the dinner for two so we could try many of the different way they prepared them. The smoked were the best but they were all very good and huge compared to the ones we get at home. We continued along the north coast through Nelson to Kaiteriteri where our accommodation was located near the park. Our accommodation is a fancy little spa resort, not quite the basic accommodations we had requested when we booked the trip but we'll take it. It has an indoor and outdoor pool, sauna, steamroom, mountain bikes, a spa, and a whole lot of free activities to do. We checked in though there was no one at reception, we found an envelope with our name on it and found or room which has a beautiful view of the village below. Once we got settled and orientated we walked down to the village and down to the beach. The north coast is famous for its golden sand beachs and Abel Tasman has many in this area. After walking around for a bit we went for supper at the only restaurant in the village. The food was good and cheap considering they are running a monopoly. After supper we headed back for an early night.
We were up early this morning and headed off to Marahau, about 20 minutes away to go sea kayaking
. We got checked in and found our guide. Our group consisted of us, two Americans who were honeymooning and our guide's dad who was in town visiting. We headed out and luckily it was high tide so we didn't have too far to haul the kayaks before heading out. The area we left from is near the mouth of the Marahau river and there is about a kilometre difference between the high and low tide lines. There are many beaches that almost disappear at high tide yet seem to go for miles when the tide is out. When we left the water was very calm and the wind was unnoticeable. Not far off shore the guide's dad spotted a large stingray swimming not far from our boats. We tried to get close to get a better view but it swam away so all we really saw was a grey blob swimming ahead of us. We continued along the shore then headed across the bay over to Adele island and pull up on one of the beaches for tea. The wind started to pick up on the crossing so we had a steady headwind to paddle into. We then went part way around the island to a seal breeding colony. We saw many laying on the rocks and swimming around or boats. We also saw a penguin on the crossing but we couldn't get close enough for a good look. After the seal colony we turned around and started heading back towards the main land. Again the wind decided to change direction and was blowing into us, much stronger now and was creating white caps on the surface. We paddled hard to get back across and stopped on another beach to have lunch. I went for a swim after lunch which didn't last long in the freezing water. It was nothing like the warm waters in the Coral Sea. We start heading back after lunch and again the wind decided to turn it up another notch. It was probably blowing steady at 50km/h with gusts of up to 80km/h which made paddling a challenge. We made it about halfway back sticking close to the shoreline for what little protection it offered. At that point the Americans were struggling getting blown into the shore
. Pulled up on a beach and our guide gave us some options. We could attempt to carry on or walk back. At the same time we watched as some other groups tried to round the next point and got nowhere. Within about 5 minutes there was 4 other groups on the shore next to us so we decided to walk back. I was a little disappointed as I wanted to at least try to continue and Gina was on board with me but the others wouldn't have made it. The walk back was about an hour. Our guide it turns out studied horticulture in university and gave us a great lesson on the native plants of New Zealand. Once we got back we returned to our accommodation. One of the other things about this place is that it backs onto a mountain bike park so I took full advantage to go for a run using the sketchy map the lady at reception gave me. The terrain was death race like with the trails heading straight up the mountain behind the resort but the views from the top were amazing. Gina tried out the infrared sauna while I was out and really enjoyed it. For supper we were going to go back to the same restaurant in the village. It was closed and coincidently there was no tour bus in town tonight... So we drove to Marahau stopping at split apple rock on the way. It is exactly what it sounds like a big rock in the middle of the bay that looks like an apple that has been split down the middle. In Marahau we found the local bar still open and serving food. The place seemed pretty hippy with 4 items on the menu, all vegetarian. The food was good and they had live music but the place was full of gypsies. (Well maybe not real gypsies but shady characters none the less.) When we got back we went for a short walk to a spot where there was glow worms near the resort. Gina didn't have any pictures of them when we went black water rafting so we got some tonight.
We are still doing well though I anticipate all of our kayak muscles being really sore tomorrow. Starting to realize the end is near but there is still a big glacier and Queenstown to see!
We woke up early and made our way to the ferry terminal for our crossing to the South Island. We had to return our rental car as the rental companies don't want you taking the car on the ferry likely because it would be expensive for them afterwards if they need to move vehicles between islands. The ride across the Cook Straight takes about three hours so we boarded and found ourselves a window seat in the food course onboard. The first hour of the journey took us through the bay of Wellington and out into the straight. I rested for a bit while Gina took some pictures. The second hour we were in the Straight and we tried to sit outside but it was very windy so we wondered in and out to warm up. The final hour of the journey into Picton took us through the Marlborough Sound and it was absolutely beautiful. The sun came out and the wind died so it was very nice sitting outside watching the scenery. We finally arrived in Picton and picked up our last rental car of our journey. We had two choices of route to get on the right highway that was going to take us to Abel Tasman one was on the main highway and the other was on a small coastal road so we picked the coastal road