Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Zealand Day 15: Pelorus Bridge, Cable Bay, and on to Abel Tasman

I think all three of us woke up several times this morning, saw that it was still dark, and went back to sleep. However, as you can see, our site was well shaded from all directions. By the time one of us bothered to check a watch, it was 9:30. Oops. 

After breakfast I wandered back to the cafe/office by the road to pay up (they'd been closed when we arrived the night before) and try to figure out which one of the trails led to the rumored swingbridge. I got a very nice map and descriptive leaflet for 50 cents. So, we set off for the bridge. First we walked over this vehicle bridge and got a lovely view of the clear Pelorus River below, and the swimming holes amidst the limestone ledges.

And a trailhead shot:

We aren't quite sure what these little purple berries are, but they are beautiful:

After ten or fifteen minutes easy walking, during which Alex and I enjoyed learning about the area via me reading the brochure out loud, and B got frustrated at the unending dorkiness of her parents (good luck with that, kid), we arrived at the bridge!

It was quite a piece of engineering but B was annoyed that it wasn't swingier. It moved a little but I think she was envisioning Tarzan or something.

We decided to head back and try swimming rather than continuing on the track, since the bridge was the real highlight. B loved scrambling around on the rocks.

Will I actually go in?


The water was...ah...bracing. I paddled around for about ten minutes while Alex got the GoPro set up. He did a few jumps off the boulders with it. B said she wanted to come in, so I helped her do a mini-jump down to me, but she started screaming to get out as soon as she got in, so returned to her rock scrambling. Alex has hilarious video of this.

Then it was off to Cable Bay. Turned out that not only is Cable Bay down a very small, twisty-turny road, but there was a ton of roadwork going on as well, which slowed us down as well as bringing the road down to one lane for parts. Yikes.

On the other hand, it was glorious once I managed to get us there!

The beach was quite rocky:

But the blue-green Tasman Sea was lovely:

We headed up the track into a field (there was a sign requesting that we not disturb the stock, and noting that the landowner might close the trail during lambing season):

Still palm trees, even here on the South Island:

And more gorgeous sea!

This sign explained how Cable Bay got its name: it was the site where the first telegraph cable came ashore, from Australia. When the telegraph came through, it cut the time needed to get news to/from England (where many of the settlers were from) from four to six months by sea, to four days by telegraph.

Then we continued along across the hillside, following what we thought was the track.

But then we reached this fence and the track disappeared. We saw some people way up to our left along a ridge and decided we'd somehow gone way off course. What to do? Bushwhack straight up the fenceline, of course.

And up...

This curious goat peeked over the ridge to see what the crazy American hikers were up to:

Finally, we clambered over this rock pile and arrived at the viewpoint.


We were very impressed with B, it was really tough going and though she didn't particularly enjoy the process, she stuck with it. She's a strong hiker!

After lunch, we went back down the real track. Much easier.

Then we headed on into Nelson. My original plan for the day, before the sleeping-in, the swimming, and the bushwhacking, was to have lunch in Nelson. I'm learning to just take my plan, add four hours, and figure we'll never get B into bed before 10 PM. But we're having fun!

Nelson was delightful. The cafe we wanted to stop at was closed but we got some good coffee elsewhere, had a brief stop at the iSite, picked up a few other little things along Main Street, and grocery shopped. Then it was time to head for Totaranui, a DoC campground towards the far end of the Abel Tasman track. We considered stopping sooner since we still had at least two hours of driving (turned out to be more than three) but ultimately decided to press on.

We came over Takaka Hill just around sunset after a lot of twisty turny driving in second and third gear (are you starting to see a pattern for the days that I drive?) and were treated to this glorious view.

We wound our way down into the valley before it was full dark and drove through Takaka and Pohara, where sensible people would have called it quits for the night and stopped at one of the campsites there. But no, not us. We hit gravel road and kept on going, more than a half an hour further to Totaranui.

Yep, another later-than-10-PM bedtime for B, who was unable to sleep in her seat on the way due to the bouncing, jarring ride. But the remote site certainly had one big advantage:

And, we weren't the last ones in, either. A car pulled up after we'd put B in bed and were eating our own supper of nice bread and spreads. Ha!

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