The Vault Regulars

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Abel Tasman Walkway

After a delightful few days at Cable Bay we fixed the puncture in Manuka's right front and set off for the Able Tasman National Park.
We had been talking to some locals who suggested that Kaiteriteri would be a good place to start although it would be busy. Not as busy as England though we were humourously informed.
 The road through the landslips posed no problems and then we were on the highway to Nelson and then through some beautiful vineyard country.
The approach to our destination was a very steep ascent and descent for a motorhome with some very sharp bends and dodgy cambers.
 Then we came to Kaiteriteri, OMG, it was like Ibiza on steroids. We found the massive motorhome site and was told that all 400 powered sites were full. Finding out that there was another site a few miles further on we were relieved to say the least.
Another twitchy road into Marahau but what a delightful place. Camp sorted and a boat trip booked it was time for a laugh and a beer, maybe not in that order and then bed time.
  I wanted to spend some time in this area as it was missed on our first trip to New Zealand 14yrs ago.
The Abel Tasman National Park is the smallest of the parks here, but the most popular. Probably due to the kind climate. It was opened in 1942 which is 300 years after it's Dutch namesake first visited the area.
 He didn't have it all his own way though. When he stopped to take on water his crew was attacked by Maori and a small number on each side were killed. He actually called Golden Bay as it's known today, "Murderers Bay".

The Walk.

 Well it's hardly the most challenging and in some ways a little disappointing and over hyped walk you can do here but it is beautiful and well set up for visitors. It is only 54.4km long but can be extended to include the walk into Golden Bay and more. Maybe do the Heaphy Track as well.
All the main streams are bridged but there are a couple of tidal inlets which need to be crossed a couple of hours either side of low tide.
 Generally speaking the walk can be completed in around 3 days but if you are in no hurry then take more and enjoy the surroundings.
  It can be walked starting from either end but huts and campsites have to be prebooked. There are 8 huts and numerous camp sites. Water is abundant but filtering or boiling is recommended.
 Only lightweight equipment is required for this one. Sandals and cossy optional!

Note, at the time of writing the Golden Bay end, around Tarakohe some roads are cut off due to landslips. According to the locals it is going to take an awful long time before it has full road access again. All access at the moment is by sea. (Check local info for updates.)

  This walk consists of 2 main things, high forested headlands and wonderful white sandy beaches. Due to the frequency of use, the path is wide and clear.

  We did a 17km day walk starting at Marahau. The good thing about this walk is that you can walk as far as you want to and then be picked up by water taxi from numerous bays and be returned to the start. So you don't have to carry more than a day sack if thats the way you would like to complete it.  Don't overstretch the time though as the taxi's won't wait too long after the pre arranged arrival times. Check up at the taxi offices prior to starting.
One of the many big loads people still carry.
Porters bay
The wide walkway
One of the many waterfalls

I havn't managed to find the name of the above tree yet.
 One of the many beaches along the route

Leaving Anchorage Bay by water taxi.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lightweight Backpacking has not quite arrived in New Zealand.

This country needs your influence a bit more Rob!
you would think these peeps were heading off to find the source of the Nile.
(I know it's been found already)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cable Bay to Glenduan

Sorry folks for the lack of postings over the last week but the Hotspots have been few and far between. Even using Sheila's phone as a hotspot has not been too successful. We have bought a Vodafone dongle and this has helped some. Downloading text is ok but as soon as pictures are being loaded it cuts off.
Anyway we are now in Ruby Bay and we have a good signal so i have been able to post this walk.

This is a lovely day walk, quite steep too when the temperature is high. We set off at 8.30am and it was 21 degreesC.
We thought it would be a doddle but it proved harder than we thought. Time wise for the whole trip is 6 - 7 hours with a lunch stop and obviously photographs.
 We didn't do the descent into Glenduan as we had no way to get back. We stayed high and returned pretty much the same route as we came.
View on the way up to the first top.
The view of Cable inlet and Pappin Island just got better and better as we gained height and once at the top the seascape and views across the Tasman Sea were stunning. We checked to see if we could spot Whales or Dolphins but no luck.

The ridge ahead was quite a whale back so with some contempt we made our first slight descent to a good track. Ahead we could make out some bovine characters that had Sheila crossing her fingers that they were actually off track. It didn't work.

The big fellow with his Mrs of the moment.
It was getting quite hot and we were glad that we were getting closer to the bush. Quite a large area of natural bush. We slowed down to listen to the birds and the sounds of the Cicada inscects.
It was delightful walking for about 1/2 hour before coming to the planted forestry where silence took over. The sounds in the natural are amazing. But one photo in the bush is the same as another so i have done a short video so that you can hear the sounds.

It took 55mins to upload this vid so you can tell how bad the signal is. So i hope you think it's worthwhile.

Coming through the bush area, more wonderful views across to Abel Tasman could be seen.
We stopped for lunch and before long we had company. 

She must have liked the smell of our cheese and onion butties.
The return leg took a bit of a detour. The track split at a NO THROUGHFARE sign but we didn't fancy the steep incline again so we chose the naughty route.
We guessed by it's direction that we would come out at Cable Bay farm buildings and as we were staying there we thought we might not get into any bother.
This proved correct.

Just before taking the naughty route we were passed by 2 fellrunners. They must have been fit if they do this route on a regular basis.We just sat down and watched them go by.

Well the perseverance has finally paid off and i can end this post. More to follow.

Monday, January 16, 2012


The last couple of days here in Cable Bay have been beautiful and we have some walks to post. The previous few days we had torrential rain and as we came down Highway 4  we were lucky not to get caught in the landslips.
So now that we have found a spot to post some pictures this is what almost stopped us getting to Cable Bay. Some folks have been very badly affected and have had to move out of their homes. It must have been a very frightening experience.

 Today we woke up and found our Manuka had a flat tyre. Anything else for God's Sake.
The wheel nuts had been put on with an air gun and i had a right job with some assistance from a friendly local to get the wheel off.
The guy then offered to take the wheel into Nelson for us and get it fixed. How good is that.
We are now back up and running and are off to the Abel Tasman National Park tomorrow.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The place that time went backwards.

  We are now in a lovely spot for a few days. The road has been washed away and it was a bit hairy getting in. I will video the way out.
The temperature today for our Cable Bay walkway was in the high twenties and it's a superb walk. Very steep in places but worth the effort.
I say "The place that time went backwards" because we are at the place where the telegraph cable first came ashore in New Zealand South island. Today there is neither a public phone or a mobile phone signal. You may well be thinking how is he doing this post. Well we have searched out a cove on the beach where we must be just in range of the town of Nelson.
 There is not enough bandwidth to post images so i will have to adjust the camera settings to enable me to post them. I am learning all the time.
 But how bad is it that the first place of communication here now has nothing.
More later.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Waikawa headland

  Believe it or not but the weather deteriorated last night. Torrential rain, thunder and lightening and high winds.
Our plan is to go to Nelson but the next 24hrs is not good for a high sided vehicles with winds predicted to be 140kph. We have a sheltered spot in Picton Motorhome site and this is where we will be staying.

  One good thing is that usually most travelers use Picton just as point of departure, either North on the ferry or south by road. This has given us the chance to walk along the "Snout", a narrow peninsula running NNE from Picton.

 The peninsula reaches a high point of 185m above sea level overlooking the settlement of Waikawa. A public walkway follows the ridgetop of the peninsula, connecting the Snout headland with Picton.
The eastern landform enclosing the bay is more substantial than the Snout. It is a broad hill separating Whatamango and Waikawa Bays. The main ridge  reaches a height of 518m east of the Waikawa settlement and terminates as a small low headland, Karaka Point, in the north.

We began as usual in rain, along the shore of Picton Harbour.
 We chose the path through the forestry which was being severely shaken by the strong winds but fortunately the rain was easing and was becoming quite warm.
It was quite a slippery path but it wasn't too long before we came to Bobs Bay. This would normally be a nice secluded spot but today it was quite windswept. We had a short break here and then carried on.

A rising path leads on to a lookout spot and then continues along the "Snout" path with great views out to the sound.

The guide board for this walk says 2 hours but we took about 3 1/4 with the stops for photo's etc. It was good to get out in the sun even though the wind was fierce at times and we had a few showers.
 On the return we stopped off in Picton for a deserved piece of cake and a coffee. The wind is picking up again and people are walking with a forward lean. We have just seen a lady holding onto some fencing so as not to get blown over.
  A couple of backpackers have just passed us with huge packs. It makes you wonder just what do they carry. It's like they are moving house.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Manuka's Operation

Well after a fitful night we gently held Manuka's steering wheel and led her cautiously into operating pit 2 at Merc Wellington at 7.30am.
As we entered the pre-op waiting room we were met by Tony Hiener who tried his best to put us at ease. Copious amounts of tea and coffee were put at our disposal as well as a distracting video of some new operations working well.
 The parts for the transplant had arrived safely on the overnight courier from Auckland.
We all stood at the window as she was led away by Tony's skilled team, the surgeon dressed in a red and grey coverall, computer in hand, wires trailing gave us the thumbs up that all would be ok.
 We sat down to wait. We had been upgraded now into more salubrious surroundings as we were unsure just how long the anesthetic would take to wear off.

 Sheila was becoming a bit panicky as Manuka came out of surgery only to be rushed back in. It looked like she may not make it. However 1hr later,sweating and smiling Tony came to us with the post op results.
All's well he said. We smiled a smile of relief. We signed the release papers and were taken to be reunited with our poorly soul.
We hit the accelerator and she bounced with glee. The team waved as we said our goodbyes and headed back to the Motorhome park for breakfast and chill before we move off to the Picton ferry terminal.

All our thanks to Phil Wheelans and his guys who did us proud and got us safely on our way. Especially Tony for his support.

Mercedes Wellington

This post should say something like. Wow how great today has been now that we have arrived in Wellington. But that is not the case. Due to a faulty part on the Motorhome we limped into Wellington sweating that we might not get there.
Our dear Manuka is now at the doctors or better still in dry doc having her more intimate parts looked at.
We have been well looked after by Mercedes, who eventually decided that it couldn't be repaired and a new part was needed. Unfortunately this part was in Auckland. They just about managed to place the order before the deadline time for next morning delivery.
We have now escorted her sorrowful and aching motor back to the Hutt motorhome park for geriatric 4 wheelers to shelter from humiliation.
She's looking forward to a food free quiet night before surgery in the morning and hopefully she will be all pumped up, back on all fours ready for the sea crossing.
Lets hope she doesn't suffer from sea sickness. We might be in for a restless night.
Manuka in dry doc at Mercedes in Wellington.

Me, waiting for a decision from the surgeons on whether the problem is terminal or not.

Oh the joys of motoring.

Monday, January 9, 2012

NZ Weather- summer eh?

I know the weather has been bad in UK but let me tell you it is no better here in NZ. We got the Motorhome sorted and then headed for Taupo via Hamilton overnight.
It absolutely poured down most of the afternoon and all night. We moved on into Tongariro National Park and took a quick but eventful walk around the Lake Rotopounamu.
It was raining quite heavy as we set off but within about 15 mins the wind picked up and became quite strong.
The lake had flooded quite a lot of the track and barred our path. As we turned to return we heard a tree come crashing down. The wind was howling through the canopy and was quite scary.
We hurried back to the van as more branches were tumbling.
We decided to head for the motorhome park where the Alpine crossing starts. 2 big trees had just come down at the front of the park and all hands were clearing the way. Gary who runs the place told us where to put the van so that it didn't get blown over. The wind was 130kph.
More trees were crashing around and more people were pulling in.
After about 4 hours it started to ease. Thankfully we were all ok. Gary said that was the worst storm in the Tongariro for at least ten years. I will post some pictures when we get a better internet connection.

Friday, January 6, 2012


  Thursday PM, 5th January.

On our enforced trip back down to Mangere we took advantage of the coast road instead of the main highway and came across Waipu. It turned out to be an absolutely beautiful drive. As we passed through this trendy spot we noticed quite a few old tractors parked up so we had to stop and go for a look see. Obviously the first one to catch my eye was an old Fergie 35. Probably built in the very late 50's.
 The owner knew very little about the machine and so we had a good chat about it for 5-10 minutes. He only used it to tow his boat into the sea. 
He had recently paid NZ$800 for a new tyre and had the rear hydraulics fixed which had been seized up for ages. 
I told him that if he needed anybody to fix it for him i was available to come over from UK at short notice, any time. (As long as he pays of course). He said he would bear it in mind.

 Me with the MF35
 And he kindly let me have a go.(That's a Leyland in the background)
 So after the joviality of the tractors, we headed for the stunning beach. The sun was hot, as was the sand. Paddling was a pleasure. It reminded us of nothing at home.
 The beach stretched for a few miles and all in all there were very few people taking advantage of such a wonderful day. What a shame we were just passing through as we would have liked to stay here a couple of days.

Oh well,  back to the van.

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