Wellington, Sting Rays in Picton and Hiking for Pros

After we had dropped Hazel’s parents and sister-in-law off at the airport we headed northwest to Whanganui for three nights.

Relaxing Whanganui

The next day we explored two nearby gardens in beautiful weather. The Bushy Park Wildlife Sanctuary is home of a lot of birds in a protected cold-tempered rain forest including some giant Kauri trees.

Beautiful Kauri Tree
Beautiful Kauri Tree

Afterwards, we visited the extensive Bason Botanic Garden which besides a nice range of orchids had a large collection of succulents which was very much to Hazel’s liking.

Bason Botanic Garden
Bason Botanic Garden

Wellington Part II

After a lazy day at the campground in Whanganui, we headed back to Wellington with a few stops for yarn shopping on the way. If you don’t know it by now Hazel is a serious yarn-addict and stops at yarn shops are a fixpoint on any trip.

Later on, we pitched our tent in Petone which is about 15 minutes away from downtown Wellington.

The next we visited the excellent Te Papa – Museum of New Zealand. It hosted a very well made exhibition of the Gallipoli Campaign of WWI. As the history buffs amongst you know Gallipoli was a key battle and defining moment for the newly formed ANZAC corps. We were especially impressed by the bigger-than-life, ultra-realistic figures.

Bigger than Life Figure at Te Papa - Museum of New Zealand
Bigger than Life Figure at Te Papa – Museum of New Zealand

The rest of the museum is definitely worthwhile a visit too and covers various aspects of New Zealand’s history from flora and fauna to immigration.

After so much education we were thirsty and headed for beers and a bowl of ramen.

A Beer a day keeps the Doctor away
A Beer (or in this case four) a day keeps the Doctor away

The next day we stayed in Petone where we visited the DOWSE art museum which hosted some nice exhibitions. We rounded off the day with a nice walk along the seafront.

Hello South Island

After returning our car the next morning we headed for the ferry terminal to board the InterIslander Ferry which brought us to Picton on the South Island. The crossing takes about three and a half hours and offers some very pretty views of New Zealand’s fjords.

InterIslander
InterIslander (naturally not the one we were on ;))

Picton is a very charming small seaside town with a holiday vibe and we enjoyed an after-dinner-stroll and ice cream. We even saw a few resident stingrays in the marina.

Lovely Picton
Lovely Picton

After our first night in the South, we headed to Richmond but not without stopping at Renwick to visit the local farmers market where we even met an emigrated Swiss butcher.

For lunch, we had some yummy green-lipped mussels in Havelock followed by a short walk to the local lookout which offered great views.

Havelock Lookout
Havelock Lookout

In the evening it was time to pack our big backpacks for our three-night hike in the Abel Tasman National Park. Besides clothes and food, we also needed to bring along our tent. As you can imagine this added up in terms of weight (but nobody likes complainers…, so).

A Workout at the Able Tasman National Park

The Able Tasman National Park is another outdoor highlight of New Zeland. The 60km long track runs along the coast through rainforests and passes secluded beaches and inlets.

We had visited the park in 2013 with our friends (and Kevin on another trip in 2002) and looked forward to revisiting.

A fun water taxi ride (see video) brought us up to Tōtaranui where we would camp the first night. The weather was overcast and wet. Nevertheless, Kevin decided to do a side trip up to Separation Point and back to enjoy a first view of the park.

Water Taxi Ride

After a very rainy night, we packed our wet tent and shouldered our (heavy) backpacks.

Us in the Morning - Still full of Energy
Us in the Morning – Still full of Energy

Bark Bay was our destination for the day – a good 20km hike. Most of the day presented rather rainy weather which definitely adds a different quality and atmosphere to the track. The hike even includes a few low tide inlet crossing.

What a View
What a View

The length of the hike, the weather and our heavy backpacks wore us out quite a bit and we were happy to arrive in Bark Bay just after seven in the evening (by then the weather had cleared up).

Breathtaking Milky Way at Anchorage

After a good night’s sleep, we woke up to sunny weather and continued our hike to Anchorage with its beautiful beach. The distance was considerably shorter and so we already arrived there early afternoon and just relaxed the rest of the day.

We were even so lucky that we got offered some yummy chilli (and breakfast the next day) from a friendly tour guide camping with her group next to us.

As an additional bonus, we enjoyed a cloud-free night sky. The view of the Milky Way and its millions of stars was priceless.

Sunny Weather near Anchorage
Sunny Weather near Anchorage

The last day of our hike started with another steep incline to a lookout with fantastic views. Despite our sore muscles, we enjoyed the last few hours on the trail before reaching Mārahau where our car was parked.

Yeah we Made it
Yeah we Made it

After driving to Murchinson we rewarded ourselves with a yummy dinner at the Cow Shed. Food has never tasted that good

Well deserved Dessert after three days of Hiking
Well deserved Dessert after three days of Hiking

As always these kind of experiences are hard to describe but are an absolute highlight of any trip and a reason for travelling.

Practicalities

Where we pitched our tent:

Able Tasman National Park:

  • Get there: Most people take a water taxi from Mārahau. We recommend Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi. They provide parking.
  • Hut/Camping: There are several campgrounds and huts throughout the park. You need to book them (well) in advance.
  • You need to bring your own food. Most of the huts along the way provide free drinking water (i.e. no need to bring more than 2 or 3 litter for the first day).

Food:

If you are in Murchinson go to the Cow Shed. Top-notch food.

Picton and the North (of the South Island)

Abel Tasman National Park

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