Last week we FINALLY made it to Abel Tasman National Park. I've been told its actually within the Kahurangi National Park that I told you about here. It is everything that we imagined it to be and more! We began the two day journey with a trip to the Warehouse (basically walmart in NZ) to get batteries for our lantern. Once we got that and subsequently a lightbulb for the lantern once we realized that it didn't work, we were off to Harwood's Hole. It is the deepest cave in the southern hemisphere and in my mind was going to be this massive rabbit hole in the middle of green grass like something out of Alice and Wonderland. From the parking lot it is a 45 minute walk to the top of the cave which is the hole. It was a really nice warm and sunny winter day so we were in shorts and tshirts, but as soon as we got out of the car I could feel the cold air coming from the forest we were about to enter, so I smartly decided to put on jeans and a sweatshirt which turned out to be a GREAT decision. The forest was cold and damp and oddly breezy. It was a scene out of Lord of the rings as we tried to get our blood pumping at a fast walking pace through the forest. There was moss covering just about everything - rocks, trees and a little swampy pond. It was mostly flat except for when we were climbing between mossy rocks that blocked the path, but we eventually made it to what was apparently Harwood's Hole. I say apparently because we couldn't actually see the hole around the massive boulders that surrounded the hole. We tried to see around them, but are both wimps and didn't want to get too close. I stuck my camera over the tops of the rocks and got snapshots of the tops of some trees that are growing around the hole. What I'm trying to say is it was pretty underwhelming and I wouldn't recommend anyone going there. What I would recommend is the path that we took on the way back which led to a beautiful lookout and an opening for the sun to shine right on us and warm us back up to normal body temperature.
The next day we did what most people come to Abel Tasman to do: the walking track along the coast. We had booked a water taxi the day before to take us out to Torrent Bay at 9am, so we were up early to clean the place we stayed in and get to the pickup spot by 8:50. Once we got there we were told that we were the only two booked in for the taxi, so they weren't going to run it, but they could get us onto the competitors taxi that was leaving at 9:30. We headed down to their pickup spot, grabbed a cup of coffee and we were off on our adventure of the Abel Tasman. We started with a ride around the bay checking out Split Apple Rock and then taking us up to where we would start the hike at Torrent Bay. The bay is about 14km from the start of the walk in Marehau, but we would take a detour to see the Cleopatra Pools (named that because one of the rocks looks like Cleopatra lying down). The detour would add another 3km to the walk making it a 10 mile walk from start to finish and lasting about 5 and a half hours including stops for water and lunch and taking in the breathtaking views. It is a really nice and almost entirely flat track along the coast. In the morning the tide was fully in and as the day progressed the tide went out what seemed like miles. Because of this the golden beaches just got bigger and bigger and the sun brought out the most incredible colors in the ocean. We couldn't have asked for a better day and by the time we were done my feet and I were happy to sit down in the car to head back to Mapua.
We think Harwood's Hole may be down there somewhere