Thursday, January 7, 2016

11. Day of 24 in New Zealand: Paddling along

Yesterday evening we booked a spot at the Sea Kayak Company. This was a day long guided trip called “Torrent & Tonga Hike & Paddle”. So we ate a nice breakfast at our B&B and went on from Motueka to be at 8:45am at Marahau. Unfortunately, we should have gone to the Base for the Aqua Taxi, but 400 meters before the base was already a group of the same company and so we parked there, only to realize that we should have gone a little further. Nonetheless we  made it with a little  delay.


At the base there were already the boats loaded onto the trailer which was towed away by a traktor and loaded into the sea by driving backwards. So we all sat into the boat and were driven by the traktor back into the sea. Unfortunately, I didn’t took my camera with my as the risk was to high – for me at least. The water taxi brought us to the Split Apple Rock (Tokangawhā) in the Tasman Bay. It’s made of granite and it’s unknown how the “splitting” happened.


After that we were able to see some fur seals chilling on the rock, as it’s mating season, and went on the ‘Mad Mile’ to Torrent Bay. Apparrently the water gets quiet rough but today is was calm – at least in the morning. Arriving at Torrent Bay we had a 2 hours hike (it’s actually saying 2.5 hours) through the New Zealand Abel Tasman National Park over a swing bridge at Falls River onto Bark Bay.


During our hike we noticed black trees that looked as there had been a fire. Later our guide told us that this is actually a mold living in symbiosis with the beech tree. It is a complicated ecosystem that also involves insects and honeydew. You can read more about it here.


Arriving at Bark Bay we then met our guide Pete from the Sea Kayak Company, whom we already met this morning when stopping too early from the base. There we had a nice sandwich and a carrot cake for dessert and went on with the Kayaks. We had a lot of luck as there were no other bookings for that time. Normally there are at least eight people on one Kayak tour but this time it was only us two and Pete.


After getting the safety instructions, we went on to the sea. The weather was getting rougher and Pete suggested that we should not go north against the wind but go south. So we went on in a two seated kayak. With the Kayak we got real close to the animals at shore. We saw several cormorants or shags as they call them. The black shag acutually lacks the water resistant properties of other aquatic birds and they dry their wings after diving into the sea with the wings wide open sitting on some rock.


Paddling along we were able to go into Sandfly Bay as it were only the three of us and it’s quiet narrow and not a lot of water to get into. We had to drag the Kayak a short period into the Bay itself, but there we actually paddled under the swing bridge and saw a Kingfisher flying around and and whistling or rather screaming around – probably because of the mating season too. ;) But it was quiet some show he did for us.


Afterwards we went on to Pinnacle island where we saw some fur seals and a little pup screaming around and futher to Anchorage where we saw a fur seal swiming in the sea really close – almost too close.


At Anchorage we took a break until the Aqua Taxi took us again to Marahau. As we were not on our planned route because of the weather we got in the same boat as the other employees from the Kayak companies and had a great time seeing behind the scenes of how the Kayak business is going. So actually they are driving around by motorboat to get the Kayaks that are not needed anymore from the many beaches. Loading them up onto the boat and driving them back to Marahau where they unload them. At Marahau there were already a few traktors in the sea waiting for us. The place looked a lot different as it was low tide and the sea was already a couple of hundred meters retreating.


After that experience we drove by car to Kaiteriteri to check out the beautiful beach and get a coffee and drove back to Motueka to rest for the evening. And Pete if you read this, thanks again for an awesome tour.



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