After three weeks we’ve dutifully ticked a lot of the New Zealand bucket list boxes. After a while you get tired of ticking those boxes. Another waterfall, another rock formation, another hike. At this point we started to relax a bit and just drive without thinking a set agenda too much.
On our way to the Northern point of South Island there was only one “must see” – a rock formation! I took way too many photos of rocks and as you can imagine, none of those came out showing exactly what our eyes saw. I think I need a little bit more practice on this photography thing..
The major destination for any New Zealand goer is Abel Tasman National Park with its sandy beaches and turquoise waters. After the snowy mountains and glaciers I can understand how this place attracts visitors as it is a beachy heaven you yearn after a long a cold winter.
In Abel Tasman you could walk the whole 60km long track in a couple of days but as we had been sick we chose a “light” 20km walk from Torrent Bay back to Marahau. You have to get a water taxi to drop you off and then you make your way back. During the taxi ride we got to see sea lion pups which was another animal highlight for Richie!
The walk itself is very easy, a wide beaten track and I can just imagine how busy it must be during the high season. Majority of the walk goes in the forest and you’d need to go down to the beaches along the way. We were in a real anti-hike mood and as you can’t dip in for a swim we didn’t see the point of adding extra hours to our walk and just kept going. Pretty boring walk this way I must say.
(click the arrows to browse all Abel Tasman photos)
In the end we’ve had enough of walking in the forest and chose a “short-cut” through the low-tide exposed sand. Hiking shoes held the water up until a point and then we had to go barefoot. Not sure if it was a short-cut at all but at least we got to see something other than trees.
Another way to experience Abel Tasman would be a kayak-tour and I think I'd rather opt into this one than walking as you get to see more views and park at whichever beach you want to!
Since we were quite ahead of our schedule the next day we decided to pay a visit to Golden Bay after all. And glad we did! The drive through the mountains is rewarding on its own and we were lucky enough to have amazing clear skies and you could see the whole bay itself.
First stop was Te Waikoropupū Springs - fresh water springs which were almost empty of other visitors and one of the most peaceful & tranquil places we’ve seen. One could have just sat there all day staring at the water.
(click the arrows to browse all The Waikoropupu Springs photos)
Next up (in the hope of more sea lions) was Farewell Spit but the weather turned very grey and we did only a short walk along the beach line.
I also spotted (excitedly) a “special” lamb that was walking on its knees while everyone else around it was acting as normal sheep do. Unfortunately my vet-student sister educated me that most likely anytime you see a “special” animal, there’s something medically wrong with it. In the case of this lamb, its joints must be hurting and it is easing the pain by relying on its knees :(
We had one more stop left in the Golden Bay list, Wharariki beach. I didn’t expect much, just a quick short walk to the beach and back but how wrong was I! And stupid as I didn’t bother to carry a spare battery for my camera..
The walk to the beach went through the most green hills I’ve seen in New Zealand so far. This photo did not need any editing, these were the real colors.
The beach itself invities you to have a looooong relaxed walk. These we’re the only photos we were able to take before the battery died.
(click the arrows to browse all Wharariki beach photos)
And right after this we ran into the cutest thing ever – sea lion pups playing in the shallow pools. There were so many and they weren’t shy at all! Of course some of the people hadn’t bothered to read any of the warning signs that told to leave them alone and keep your distance and were actually in the pools with them…
This side of the beach was just the beginning and we walked all the way to the other end. This allows to see the famous rock formations from different angles and take all the amazing photos you want to. Now we had to just enjoy the views with our eyes.
Wharariki beach is easily both of our favourite place in New Zealand. Would not have expected that!
Now the only thing left to do in South Island was to escape cold and catch a late ferry from Picton to Wellington.