Friday, December 4, 2009

NZ - Marahau

I’d spent the later hours of the previous night chatting with the hostel’s night manager, whom was a great source of information on today’s destination: the Abel Tasman National Park.  Apparently he used to run his own hostel out there until deciding he’d been worn out from running everything himself.

His advice was to leave by 6:30 to do everything I wanted to do, but I was rightly aware that Kiwis tend to overestimate how long it takes to travel anywhere.  Hence, when the girls asked if we could stick around for lunch at 7am, I agreed; but still hoped to be on the road by 7:30 or so.  And that we were: it was right about 7:30 when we were on the road southbound, then westbound, then northbound, and so forth.

In Marahau, located along the Abel Tasman National Park, my goal was to catch a boat up to the top of a ~7 hour trail back to town.  The caveat was that the last ferry left during the 12:00 hour, hence our waking up early to get moving.  Conservative travel estimates, per discussion with the night manager, put the trip from Picton to Marahau at 5 hours.  We rolled in at about 11:15 or so.  I even caught the next ferry earlier than that.

The boat ride was brisk, and I watched as cape after cape went flying by – I started wondering just what exact I was getting myself into.  I was chatting with the other guys on the boat, both from Holland.  Our whole boat ended up being full of Dutch folk, all traveling separately – so it seemed to just be coincidence.  

These guys were the only folks I’ve met with a shorter vacation than I.  Finally!  Granted, they were also the first folks I’ve met who actually had real jobs to return to.  I kept running into these two guys over the rest of the hike & stay in Marahau – they were pretty fun to pass by, what-with our short 10-second conversations as we passed eachother.

At Torrent Bay, the pilot stopped the boat about 200 meters or so from the beach and said “for those of you that are getting picked up here, this is where I’ll meet you.”  The dozen of us had a laugh, until the pilot continued on to say that when low tide arrives: the shoreline will actually be out this far.  The island about another 50 meters beyond us will actually become a peninsula that you can walk to.  As I’d later confirm whilst walking back, low tide recedes about a full 2 meters of water as compared to high tide, and the beaches of Torrent Bay are only about 2 meters or less deep – hence a tiny beach at high tide; but a huge beach at low tide.

The disembarkation from the boat was a “take your boots off” sort of landing.  Of course, boats don’t generally do too well driving up onto beaches, hence we had a couple meters of water to travel through before hitting dry sand.  It wasn’t deep: only about halfway up the knee.  However, it still meant that all us hikers had to spent about 15 minutes drying and desanding before booting up & continuing on.

The tramp was really easy.  Really.  It was almost totally flat, with the ups & down being so gradual that you’d hardly realize you were changing elevation at all.  The only part of much difficult was around Anchorage Bay, where a steep climb made my body inquire “What are you doing?  Why are you doing it?  And how much longer are you going to do it for?”

There was also a bit or delay around Torrent Bay, where I decided I was going to take the shortcut across the low-tide shore instead of the hour or more detour.  The only catch is that I probably spent just as long trying to take the shortcut.  It wasn’t quite low tide yet, hence I had to ford some water – necessitating drying & desanding again.  However, once on the other side, I came to realize that I didn’t know where the trail picked up again.  When I found the trail, I realized that I could’ve actually just gone around a bit further and would’ve only had to go through inches of water rather than about two feet of water… and inches of water I could just jump across.  Oh well, it’s the effort toward the journey; not the speed at which it’s completed.

The whole tramp took me 9 hours, including some diversions to lookouts, my delay at Torrent Bay, and two 30-second rests whilst ascending near Anchorage Bay.  I’d made a deal with the girls that I’d buy food if they’d cook, and upon my return there was some tasty pasta & a really good meat sauce awaiting me.

As my feet were not to amenable toward doing… well… anything, I sat and watched 8 Below when two Irish girls and that was pretty much my night.  We had one additional roommate: a Kiwi from Auckland who was traveling with some other Kiwis in the other room.  He was quite a talkative chap.

The place we were staying at was rustic and had a very 70’s décor, but was actually quite comfy; except for the lack of water.  Cold water didn’t work at all and the hot water would come and go, making washing dishes nigh impossible & showers an interesting affair.  Otherwise, it wasn’t too bad.

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