Keryn’s parents recently celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary and we helped them mark the occasion with a 10 day road trip around the top of the South Island. A smooth ferry crossing saw us disembarking at Picton and starting our journey towards Kaiteriteri after a bakery stop in town for some lunch. We were planning on doing a lot of short walks and taking the scenic route when possible so our first road choice was the Queen Charlotte Drive, a lovely if very windy road heading west from Picton.
We had a break at Ngakuta Bay and I started taking photos after eating. Another couple had driven in to the rest area and were walking out along the pier, so they became the first photographic subjects.
We also had a stop in Nelson, the rest of the time spent watching the scenery go by. We could see distant rain over the harbour from Nelson but thankfully never found where it was falling. We had a Marram cottage booked at Kaiteriteri and arrived to find it easily enough and proceeded to unpack for our two night stay.
With time left for a short afternoon trip we decided to head up to Takaka Hill and then along the 12 odd dusty kms of Canaan Road to the south-western edge of the Abel Tasman National Park. Here we could go for a walk along the Harwoods Track towards Harwoods Hole.
The views from Takaka Hill were good, though further south we could see more snow and rain clouds than hills and mountains. Canaan Road seemed to go on for a long time, starting amidst farmland that seemed as much rock as grass in the fields before heading through forest. There was another large farmed area before we finally reached the car park and pleasant camp ground at the start of the Harwoods Track.
The track passed through cool forest, the young trees pushing up through dark soil and around water filled sink holes. Much of New Zealand will remind me of scenes from the Lord of the Rings movies (and I guess in a few years the Hobbit movies as well) and this place was no exception, the peacefulness and stillness leaning an eerie feel to the surroundings that all appeared strangely familiar. We did encounter some wildlife, a friendly South Island robin and a few heard bellbirds.
It was late afternoon when we started walking and with visibility getting worse in the evening light Phil and Elaine turned back while Keryn and I pushed on for another ten minutes. We chose to walk to the edge of the hole rather than a lookout when the track split and so didn’t get to look down into the massive crater, maybe next time I’ll convince Keryn that we need to find a company that will assist in an abseil into the deepest vertical shaft in New Zealand.
We didn’t stay for too long having agreed that we wouldn’t muck around so we quick stepped back towards the Caanan car park. The sun was now very low in the sky and every now and then the light found a path through the trees leaving golden patches on the trees. It was cool and beautiful, a lovely first walk for our trip.
Driving back we stopped to look at some carved sculptures on the farmland by Canaan Road. There were a number of wooden pieces seemingly inspired by a number of different cultures with an English inspired Green Man and both North American and Maori inspired totems. There was no obvious reason to be found for why the sculptures were where there were with only sheep and keen eyed motorists as visitors to this isolated gallery.
Back to Kaiteriteri we went and had a good meal (I think this was the night I made Nachos, so of course it was good) and then we got everything ready for the walk the next day where we would be traversing a section of the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk. Our trip was off to a pleasant, stress free start.