Flanders in NZ 12 – The 1st Great Walk

Yikes! Late post, but this week has been a bit busy at work…on to some story-time and beach photos!

Last time I was here I had the extreme pleasure of walking the Milford Track Great Walk. In total, New Zealand has 9 “Great Walks” and the Flanders did their first one together this past weekend–Abel Tasman Coast Track! Not wanting to take any vacation days we planned to do only 2 days, 1 night on the track, and 33.9 km of walking (21 miles). Only one other colleague was brave enough to join us 😉 (and the fact that most had already walked it a few months ago).

First off…Abel Tasman?! Nearly EVERYTHING is named after him around here…he has a peninsula, bridge, highway, an entire sea, glacier, lake, river, mountain, bay, district, and the national park which bears his track. I eventually HAD to look this guy up, he is obviously a big deal — dutch explorer to be the first (european) explorer to many areas throughout Australasia. Golden Bay (the bay off of Abel Tasman national park) was originally called Murderer’s Bay because the Maori people killed so many of his men… drama!

Anyways, the track. Most of this I can do photos, but I’ll give you a bit of the outline.

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Our Weekend Hiking Plan – boat to Awaroa and walk back to the car

Friday we left somewhat early (3:30) to drive 5.5 hours and arrive at a hostel in Matoeka for the night.

Early Saturday, we got up and drove to the start of the track. As we were driving towards the park the rain got heavier and heavier…and the wind picked up. By the time we got the shore Keith was asking if we thought the boat was even going to take us to our destination. In typical Kiwi fashion, the welcome center cashier told us “Of course!” and pointed us to our waiting area.

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Waiting hut/Enjoying the rain/Packs all lined up with Keith’s umbrella making an appearance

The boat ride was…”exciting” to describe it. I’ve managed to be on quite a few boats in my 27 years, and this was the bumpiest. We were basically out in the ocean, with 10 foot waves, in a 20 foot water taxi. The captain seemed to know what he was doing, and made a few jokes about taking care of his own life…which attempted to put me at ease (while steadfastly tightening my life vest). To say the least, I’d never been so happy to climb ashore, even if it was rainy and windy throughout the hike.

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Yes we got on the boat while it was hitched to the tractor/yes we had to jump out of the boat while it was slightly beached on shore…

The rain died down and our “4 hour” kiwi timed hike of 11.4km turned into 2.5 hours to get to Bark Bay Hut. Eventually another hiker arrived who was also, coincidentally, our one hostel bunk mate the night before! She was also an American (from Kansas) who was traveling post graduation and pre-going to work as an engineer in California (small world right!?)

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Start of a drizzly, albeit beautiful day!

 

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On the boardwalk

 

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Onetahuti Selfie

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Bark Bay Hut

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Keith went for a run on the beach…

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Admiring the view in front of our hut for the night…

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Rock scramble

Sunday was the day we were gearing ourselves up for. Luckily the rain went away and the clouds started to part. We ended up walking a total of 15 miles to get back to the car. Normally, the official walking guide has another hut in the middle but we wanted to try to get in as much track as possible in a weekend. We miraculously got back to the car by 2:30pm and were back in Christchurch by dinner time!

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Team Tasman @ Sunrise (again, chilling out in our hut’s beautiful front yard)

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We couldn’t quite get the jumping thing down…

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Start of a much more beautiful day…

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Too many ocean/land photo ops

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Made it to Torrent Bay Village (where several private houses reside — quite the nice vacation getaway!)

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On a limb

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Flanders Hiking Photo of the Week

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Usually the sign photo is captured at the beginning of the hike, but considering we started in the middle and hiked back to the “beginning” we had to make an exception.

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Drive home through Lewis Pass

Overall a lovely weekend, followed by a busy week. This makes me realize next week may be a struggle to get an entertaining/trip-infused post out. I’ll have to start brainstorming now!

Cheers!

 

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Flanders in NZ 9 – The 40hour Birthday

Who else has been following the World Cup? All of us down here get to wake up to early-morning matches. Occasionally, if we’re lucky, there’s a game on around lunchtime. Between 5 brackets through my home, DC, office and a yahoo pick em league with my brother I have a lot of winner options, but always tend to back Argentina…not sure why, maybe it’s because I have found memories of my family coming up with an “Argentina!” chant during one of the World Cups long ago.

Despite us celebrating the shortest day of the year last week, the flowers have started blooming in our backyard! I can’t really describe how lovely it is to have grass and plants and a backyard. I don’t think I’ll be able to go back to the States and live in a high-rise apartment again!

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Winter Peonies?

Last time I was here I blogged about the Lyttleton Festival of Lights. The annual event occurred this past Friday so a few of us headed out to enjoy the fireworks, craft beer, food, and of course, CHURROS!!

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Fireworks over the Port

Keith and I didn’t have anything particular planned for this weekend, but we woke up to a BEAUTIFUL day so eventually headed out to the tiny french-settled town of Akaroa. We were originally planning to do a hike along Pigeon Bay but it was so windy it didn’t seem like an enjoyable time. We took the scenic road around the ridge line instead — summit road — and ended up in Akaroa for a late lunch.

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Akaroa harbour & Akaroa Summit Road view

We stumbled upon Ma Maison which was a great little restaurant right on the water. Perfect spot for an outdoor lunch and coffee. I had the seafood chowder (anything seafood in Akaroa is fabulous) and Keith got a chicken sandwich.

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Ma Maison flat white

 

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Akaroa Harbour

 

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You can tell a lot about someone’s personality…

We sped back to Christchurch and drove up to Queen Victoria Park to catch the sunset. So worth it–

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Queen Victoria Park Sunset

Sunday was time for another trail run. Keith & I went to the Opawa farmers market to pick up some veggies (or “vege” in kiwi-speak) and then up to the hills for a 50-minute up-and-down run. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get over the views along the port hills surrounding Christchurch–

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Sunday Run – Crater Rim Walkway

Afterwards we were able to skype with our great friends Ev & Chris! We talked about them potentially visiting so that was pretty exciting–we love visitors! 🙂

Tuesday was my birthday. The fun thing about NZ birthdays from someone who was born on the east coast of the States, is that they last about 40 hours–have fun with that math. Collected some fun cards, gifts (american ketchup!), and CAKE over the past few days. Thanks to Ashley for those pictured below! Looks like we did manage to continue our birthday cupcake tradition.

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Birthday goodies!

Keith got me a hiking pack for my birthday which I am PUMPED to use on our upcoming hike in Abel Tasman national park (and many more). All geared up!

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Office Birthday Cake

Off to find another adventure for this weekend…oh, and Happy half-Christmas!