Sunday, December 02, 2007

Rainbow Lodge Backpackers Retreat, Napier, NZ



In retrospect I decided that I hadn’t seen enough of the park. The One Day Royale With Cheese (which didn’t actually involve cheese, which is a gross oversight on their part), touted as their longest single-day trip, covered a lot of ground water without a lot of moseying. I wanted to mosey around the shores. I like moseying.

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After having the owner of the Laughing Kiwi explain to me very slowly and with much repetition how the aqua taxis worked I had her book me on the cheapest one. Kayaking is not only hard, but expensive too.

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I’d get picked up by the bus at 8am and taken to the aqua taxi in Marahau, which would shuttle me up to Anchorage Bay, and then I’d do the 4-ish hour walk back to Marahau and get the bus back home.

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Problem was that the taxi was at nine and the bus home didn’t leave until 4:30, which left me seven hours to do a four hour walk. The Laughing Kiwi owner winced when she saw that, and told me to take it “real cruisey.” The woman at the Aqua Taxi office said the same thing.

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I don’t think I’ve mentioned the way I tend to walk. When most people, it seems, hike, they keep their head down and power through. When I was walking to Bob’s Bay with C in Picton I noticed that she sure didn’t take her time. She just went. I like to loaf my way through walks, to make sure I don’t miss any views or neat moss or anything. While I wasn’t sure I could fill up an extra 3.5 hours with my moseying, I at least had that advantage.

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First thing I did, while walking barefoot on the beach, was to step on some gorse. Gorse, if you didn’t know, is a bitch of a plant brought over by the English ages ago for hedge purposes. It’s all thorns. All of it. Horrible little needle-y thorns. And I stepped on it. Why they think or thought it would make a good hedge I certainly don’t know (though I suppose it’s some kind of security), but it loves this climate and is everywhere, including, at that time, lodged in the bottom of my foot.

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And then I broke a blister. I hobbled to the start of the trail. Only a four-hour journey to go. Well done.

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The first clamber from the beach to the upper path was a little rough, but it was fairly smooth sailing from there on out.

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They don’t tell you about the flies, though. Not so much the sandflies, which get enough (just about) press, but on open, dry paths like this:

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the flies just swarm. They didn’t bother with me (they did bump into me every now and again), but it was pretty gross.

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That being said, the walk was glorious, and I was really happy to be doing it alone. I liked moving at my own pace, and stopping every four or five seconds for another picture.

The problem with pictures of, say, the beach was that there were usually trees in the way.

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And yes, the water really is that color.

While it’s the smallest of NZ’s national parks (I think that’s what I was told) it’s also one of the most popular. I’m really lucky that I got to be there before the crowds – I can’t imagine what it would be like with more boats and more people.

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I didn’t get passed too often, but always made sure to let people go by, and give them plenty of time to create some distance between us.

This is where I had lunch:

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And it’s also where I met the biggest danged seagull I’ve ever seen. I don’t have any pictures with scale, but its body was about the size of a football.

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A guy came down and had lunch a few feet away, but we maintained respectful silence.

We caught up later and ended up walking together for a while. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I preferred to walk alone, but managed to ditch him after not too long. Nice guy, to be sure, but not the right time.

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Near the end of the walk I ducked down to one of the beaches, got into my swimsuit, and ventured into the water. With partly cloudy skies and the shade of the woods I wasn’t really warm enough for it, but I’d brought my suit the whole way, and I was going to use it, damn it. Besides, the water was just too pretty to not get in at least once.

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And holy hell it was cold. The water was very shallow for the first dozen or so meters, and I couldn’t bear to just dive in. Too shallow. Yes. That’s it. I crouched down once or twice, but often popped up so quickly my suit was barely damp. Finally I managed to submerge (mostly – my hair stayed dry), then, gasping with the frigidity, paddled a meter or two, then booked it back out to my towel and dry clothes.

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At the last stretch I acquired another companion, a French chap. We finished off the trail and practiced our respective alternative languages for a while, then I was off to my bus (I’d managed to mosey away the time very well – only had to wait about a half hour).

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I don’t know if there’s something in the water in Abel Tasman, but everyone with whom I had business – the guides, the kayak office women, and my bus driver from that day all remembered my name. I’m sure they had it written down somewhere – their hands, maybe – but it was still a little surprising.

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Unfortunately, it didn’t rub off on me. I still can’t remember names to save my life.

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So I did get to see more of the park – sort of. While I was hoping to get to browse through the inlets and beaches the path that I took doesn’t really venture down to the beach terribly often. In retrospect a slower kayak trip might’ve been a better bet. Hindsight. You know.

1 comment:

miss said...

I am sitting here after just writing a stupid paper and still needing to study for my final exam that is this Wednesday and all I can think is that I want to be you. Wanna trade? :D

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