Thursday, 20 December 2012

New Zealand Part 2: Abel Tasman

Looking out to sea over a beautiful turquoise sea

So after arriving at New Zealand's South Island, I met up with one of my old friends from school and we had a bit of a drive out to Nelson and up along the north coast to the Abel Tasman National Park, which at 225 square km is New Zealand's smallest national park. It has some absolutely stunning scenery and beaches though and contains some of the most popular 'tramping' (hiking) trails in New Zealand, and is totally full of kayakers. We only had a day to spend there as we were heading inland later in the afternoon to Hamner Springs, so decided to get up early and get the water taxi from Marahau up to Bark Bay in the north and then walk down to Anchorage to catch the taxi back again.

Abel Tasman Park
Our tramping / water taxi route

There was a bit of wildlife kicking around as well, including a load of cormorants and a few fur seals, but we'll see more of them in later installments of the blog, so for now I'm going to show you some of the scenery instead. Enjoy!

Bark Bay (click to enlarge)

Torrent Bay at low water (click to enlarge)

Suspension bridge over a river

A hidden bay 

We did see a couple of unusual things though, including these stranded siphonophores. These are animals that are a bit like jellyfish but are actually colonial, so they're composed of several connected individuals which all specialise to perform different functions within the animal, much like how a hive of bees works, or an ant colony. Or the Borg I suppose. Anyway, the one we're most familiar with is the Portuguese Man-of-War back here, but I'm not sure what this species is. I know I didn't get stung by anything, so either they're relatively harmless or I got lucky!

A stranded siphonophore

After our whistle-stop tour of the National Park, I was deposited at Christchurch to collect my hire car and was set free to explore the north-east coast for the last few days of my trip, starting in a little town called Akaroa, which is situated in the crater of an extinct volcano...