Motueka and Abel Tasman National Park

February 2017

Travelling North to Motueka

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We left early, but given the new snowfall overnight on the ranges, took the opportunity to revisit Lake Wanaka with the snow sprinkled mountains in the distance, before heading through the Haast Pass.
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We stopped for short views of pools and waterfalls, and picked up take-away vegie soup in Haast, before the long trip to Fox Glacier. The weather was inclement, but not enough to stop short hikes.
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By the time we reached Fox Glacier, it was pouring, and we had almost decided to quit, when the sun came out, so we hiked the 2 km to the Glacier front view-point. It was a challenge remembering what it looked like in 1974 when we last visited it - but there were far fewer tourists then.
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The glaciers seem to be the 'go-to spot' for everyone, so we decided not to tarry. Unfortunately, I had not remembered that Lake Mathieson was near the glaciers, and we did not leave sufficient time to re-walk it - we remembered it from 42 years ago as being superb, but thought it was further north!!!
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Then we just had to get to Harihari where we had accommodation booked (we hoped). Everything en route was showing 'no vacancy' signs. Fortunately Harihari is sufficiently off the tourist route, and we had wonderful accommodation at the Flax Bush Motel, in newly renovated suites, with everything we wanted, and a 5-minute walk to a pub meal.
We rose early, travelled north on the windy NZ roads to Greymouth, where we picked up NZ made rain jackets very cheaply - did not need them, but liked them - had coffee, were able to gain access to email, and were advised to take the route via Punakaike - again I had forgotten that the Pancake Rocks were on the West Coast. This we did, even though it involved an extra hour of travel, but the rocks were photogenic.
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Then the very long drive through the Buller Gorge. We both recall Buller being significant, but can't recall why, as we had only travelled it once in 1974. I think perhaps it was always on the news in NZ as being closed because of rock falls or something else. It is an amazing engineering feat.
Our last visit to Motueka was at the time that everyone was growing hops. Now, it is grapes, except we noticed on the back route hops were still being grown. Our hosts in Motueka informed us that it is now illegal to grow hops for sale, but one can grow them for private use!!
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Our Airbnb accommodation in Motueka could not be faulted. It was five minutes out of the city, but in a wonderfully private and isolated 10-acre plot away from the amazing madding crowds of tourists.
It offered good internet, a functioning BBQ, washing machine, and our host so generously provided milk, eggs (from their own hens), orange juice, bread, fruit, home-made jams, and so much else - more than we expected or needed.
Our reason for being in Motueka was to revisit the Abel Tasman National Park, which we did visit briefly in 1974, and had positive memories - mostly of walks with sea views through the trees.
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Fortunately on our first day the weather was good, so we took the water taxi to Torrent Bay - lovely bumpy ride, with a few views from the sea, including of the famous Split Apple and seals we were able to capture.
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We had to wade through knee-deep water to exit the taxi at Torrent Bay, and then hiked for 5.5 hours back to Marahau, where our car was parked. It was an easy walk, in some respects, as there were few elevation changes, but we actually prefer not to walk on the flat, so our feet and hips were sore. But we made it, with lots of photos and side trips along the way.
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Given that we discovered the local fresh fish outlet on the previous day, and had a gourmet meal, we decided to repeat the event, and were not disappointed.
We had a beer/cider with our hosts in one of their spots in the garden, which was very pleasant, before tackling the cooking. They love animals and have lots on their plot.
Our second day in Motueka was dampened by rain, although we managed to hike along the sand bank, quite close to our accommodation, that promised lots of birds. We did see a few, but the tide was probably too far out.
Then, because of the rain, we decided against our plans to hike in the interland part of Abel Tasman, and instead took tourist drives through Mapua, where we had a good coffee at the Apple Shed Bar and Cafe, mooched through craft stores, drove out to Rabbit Island, and then back to Motueka through Upper Moutere, visiting a few wineries, and, as usual, made the mistake of purchasing wines which never taste as good later. I suspect that they use different vintages - must check on that.
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File translated from TEX by TTH, version 4.08.
On 19 Mar 2017, 21:22.