Abel Tasman and One of those days

Abel Tasman

This morning before starting another long drive I try to check the oil on my campervan after reading in the lease agreement that is something I should be periodically doing. The problem is I can’t find the engine. I’ve never owned or even driven a vehicle like this before. When I open the front hood it is all nonsense inside. Finally I ask a stranger at a gas station. He tells me he isn’t really familiar with the van but he thinks the engine is under the passenger seat. What?!?

Sure enough it is.

Looky there

After checking I am back on the road but I make a pit stop at a park where I read about my favorite bugs (sarcasm).

Apparently I am the filet mignon of humans

I am heading to the north coast and my destination is Abel Tasman. I have a reservation for two nights at a campervan site near the water.

Abel Tasman at low tide

The drive to Abel Tasman is twice as long as the estimate is. Once again I did not sleep well in my van last night so I am tired. Also it is really stressful driving on the steep winding roads heading into the Abel Tasman National Park; traffic is bad and cars ride my tail. I normally pull over to let faster cars pass but there is no shoulder for me to safely pull over. To top it all off I can’t find a place to buy gas that will accept my credit card and I am running really low on gasoline. I stop at a gas station one after another, each spaced far apart, and none of them are able to accept my credit card. I am almost at my campsite and when I discover the gas station nearby will not work as well so I have a mini panic attack.

I know a panic attack about finding gas sounds silly but I am pretty worn down and stressed out at this point. I turn around and end up driving to another town to find a gas station; thank goodness my van made it. This gas station has an attendant where I can make my purchase. I buy gas and three candy bars because I can’t decide if I want crisped rice chocolate, almond chocolate, or chocolate with peanuts so I just buy them all. Isn’t that what you do when you have a panic attack?

I decide that tonight would be a good time to spend some money on a hotel room. I just imagine getting to a crowded campsite with a bunch of screaming kids and end up getting into an argument with another traveler being very inconsiderate (something that tends to happen at these campsites time to time).

So that’s how I end up at a motel tonight. Hopefully I get a good nights rest and I am up for a hike because I’ve been looking forward to a day hike, I just wasn’t looking forward or expecting the crowds. But it is Monday so maybe it won’t be quite as bad tomorrow.

For tonight I have my candy bars ready and decide to go for some delicious veggie pizza at Sprig & Fern Motueka. It is really great veggie pizza. You can tell the vegetables are cooked fresh. Pizza and chocolate makes the world better, right?

Abel Tasman

Today I am doing a hike at Abel Tasman National Park. I wasted a day yesterday so I can’t do as long of a hike as I originally anticipated doing.

Abel Tasman National Park is named after a Dutch settler who had a battle with the local residents. Settlers eventually destroyed the area for logging, etc. They also tricked the native population into giving up their land.

In the mid 1900’s the land was preserved and turned into a park. Now it is a beautiful haven for day hikers, campers, and kayakers. One can spend days hiking from location to location while staying at different campsites.

I am only prepared for day hikes and fortunately there is a water shuttle to assist in that.

Waiting for my water shuttle:

My plan today is to take the shuttle from Kaiteriteri beach to get dropped off at Anchorage and hike back part of the Abel Tasman Coast Track to pick up the return shuttle at Apple Tree Bay. I have the option of walking all the way back to my car if I am feeling real adventurous. This shuttle ride only goes half-way into the park. I could could go further and see other interesting walks; some only available at low tide. I chose the one I did because it seems easily doable by me and I don’t quite trust the New Zealand track rating system; Kiwis tend to be in way better shape than I.

Taking off to Anchorage:

Split apple rock

I have arrived at Anchorage. Upon arrival I see the overnight camp site. Being intrigued I peak in the dorm. There is a nice dorm area to take coverage in overnight. No technology but at least not left out in the elements. I am happy to use the composting toilet before I begin my hike.

Dorm bed building

I start off the hike confused because the directional sign points in the opposite direction from where I believe the trail should start. I guess it is ok because the trail starts by going uphill and across the peninsula and heads back the correct way.

As I walk up the trail I hear lots of bugs. They are very loud but fortunately they all leave me alone.

The first part of the trail is mostly uphill but is well covered by the trees. Soon the trail opens up to a great view. It is warmer up here but at least I can see the water below.

Looking back down the way I came
Looking down at Torrent Bay

It is warm but not too warm, almost perfect for hiking.

I keep track of all the directional signs to ensure I am still going the correct way.

If I want to make it back to my car I am looking at least 11 km walk.
They have the pine issue here as well.
I am getting close to water again

I stop at a pretty beach on Akersten Bay to take a break and eat my sandwich. Hikers can camp on this beach for the night. The trail to get down to the beach is a little steep, unstable and at the end I need to hop over a cute little stream.

Again the sign is pointing in the opposite direction for which I think it should.
But the beach is still on my left so I am good.
At Apple Tree Bay. Do I want to hike another 2.5 hours to my car?

I finally reach the beach where the shuttle will pick me up, Apple Tree Bay. It is only 5.5km or so to walk back to my car. I consider it while I rest on the beach. There are very few people on this beach. I watch a family with their kayaks stop here to rest.

I decide to go ahead and take the shuttle back. It is a nice ride back.

Abel Tasman is beautiful and peaceful (except the main beach on the weekend). I could spend a week here camping, hiking and kayaking. One more thing to love about New Zealand.

Moeraki New Zealand Day 2

Today is my second day in Moeraki. On the agenda today is to go see the famous boulders on the beach then head back to Katiki Point to try to catch a sight of penguins again.

I enjoy the cooler weather with a yogurt, granola and banana with a coffee looking at the water below.

Yummy yogurt from the local store

I watch the boats heading out for a day’s fishing.

The best time to see the boulders is a low tide. Today that is scheduled at 11:30 am.

I walk along the road a little bit until I reach a now partially closed path. I take the Millennium track toward the beach. It seems like the track was longer in the past (closer to my holiday park) but erosion has made part of the trail unsafe. The brush is slightly overgrown. I am wishing I would have worn long pants today.

I finally make it to the beach where it is nice and calm. There are very few people on the beach but I do notice a dead seal. It is really sad to see. Luckily it has been removed before my walk back.

I make it down to Moeraki Boulders Beach to look at the unique boulders. The boulders were formed around 60 million years ago during the early Paleocene. They are now being uncovered due to coastal erosion.

I head up to the nearby café to order some fish chowder.

Moeraki Boulders Cafe

After lunch I walk back to the holiday park back along the beach.

I hop carefully from rock to rock to a secluded area. I savor the sounds of the ocean and birds. It is very calm here. I notice tide starting to rise. Not wanting to get “trapped” I head back the way I came. I think this probably used to be part of that now defunct track.

I notice different types of flowering plants on my walk back.

I relax for a little while before heading back to the Katiki Point to try to get some more penguin viewing. Today I end up seeing only one penguin.

He goes away from view for a while so I end up looking at some more seals.

The penguin moves uphill where I snap a couple more pictures.

I drive back to the campsite but first stop by the village to walk around. There isn’t much to the village but a pier and a nice restaurants. I have food to eat back at the campsite so I forgo the restaurant.

Cool campervan I see

Back at my campervan I set up a semi-healthy dinner. I make a large salad but can’t resist butter bread with this spectacular butter (I feel like an influencer now, they should be paying me).

I love my stop in Moeraki. If I had more time I would have checked out the nearby towns of Dunedin and Oamaru. Oamaru in particular has the Steampunk HQ: a funky museum of all things steampunk (a missed opportunity on the drive into Moeraki). I just kept missing the window of opening hours so I regret not stopping on the way. I think it would have been fun to visit.

Tomorrow I head further south to Te Anau to get closer to Milford Sound. Loving my visit to New Zealand so far.

Petra: High place of sacrifice

The morning started with a hike to the monastery. The morning hike had a good amount of shade and it was still cool enough in the morning so I didn’t overheat too much.

As a group we decided we were also going to see the High Place of Sacrifice, one of the highest points in Petra. I am hot and tired but I decide to do it anyway.

At the top of Jebel Madbah there is an altar with drains for the blood of sacrificial animals. Most people get there using the 45 minute trail from the theatre but we arrived through the back route seeing the Royal Tombs first. This trail is probably best done in the morning but we did it in the afternoon due to the Monastery hike in the morning.

We head first to the Petra temple and explore the area. Some of us desired a rest so we sit around a strange altar area for a while. Someone may have left their hard boiled egg from breakfast to the gods. It is during this time we start losing group members, they can’t find us and they travel ahead to the trail.

egg
Getting some rest. Photo credit unknown.
wandering around the temple

From behind the temple we find the back trail to the High Place of Sacrifice. We start our ascent uphill and see lots of tombs along the way.

The steps up here were very steep. Not so bad going up but very difficult going down. You can see the group congregating at top and slowly going down.
The view below
Almost there. Lady at the top yelling at us to follow her for the way up. We end up scrambling up some rocks.
Finally at the top.
Altar is the upper left
Tea shop at the top
View of below

Once back down below we head back out toward the main entrance. I am beat and taking it very slow even though it is mostly downhill. I think I definitely got my fill of hiking for the day.
Of course we stop for views of the Treasury one last time.

Due to our long day we did see quite a bit of Petra but there is still more to see. Two days gives you a good highlight but if you can spend more then do so. Petra is a good place to visit.

Petra Monastery Hike

Ad Deir

Today we wake up early for our Jeep ride to Ad Deir, or the Petra monastery. The monastery hike is actually the highlight of my Petra visit. The hike is along a scenic back trail with rock formations out in the distance. There are two main ways to get to the monastery: one is the most used route from the main Petra site and there is the one we took from the back roads.

Those of us who chose to do this hike are divided into two jeeps. We then start our ride to the back road of Petra.

Showing our passes before they take us to the trail start.
Does this look like a smooth ride to you?
Me starting my hike. Photo credit to one of my travel companions.
Some of our lovely views
The route is not too challenging but there is a bit of up the stairs and some down the stairs along the way.
Travel companion Phil having some panorama fun. Photo credit Phil.
Not great trail for those with a fear of heights.
Very cool stone patterns
Finally we have arrived.

When we arrive at the monastery we are well rewarded. There are barely any visitors and the lighting is satisfactory for pictures. We explored and snapped some photos for a while. Soon we sat back and enjoyed some refreshments at the tea shop.

Once we made our way toward Petra proper after our monastery visit I knew we made the right choice; crowds start to thicken, souvenir stands appear and aggressive vendors are upon us. We fortunately missed all that on our journey there. Our journey consisted of a peaceful, quiet and impressive hike with a beautiful monastery at the end.

Route back to Petra

After our descent we decided to go do the hike to the high place of sacrifice which I reluctantly did. That was a journey of its own so more on that later.

Wadi Rum Day 2

Breakfast is at 7:30 AM and we leave at 8:30 AM for our 14km walk.

Hopefully it doesn’t prove to be too warm today. The schedule today is a half day walk with optional afternoon activities.

Most of the walk is not too bad. It is sunny but a nice breeze helps us along while we occasionally hike through the deep red sand. We walk by spectacular rock formations carved by the wind for a long time. Wadi Rum used to be covered by ocean during pangea but now it is all desert.

Our tour guide accompanies us with a Jeep to hold our bags and water which proves to be an excellent idea since it is much better to walk in the desert with a lighter load. The Jeep moves forward 1k or so ahead at a time to give us a chance for a water break if we desire.

We stop and climb rocks a time or two for some great photo opportunities.

Also we stop for tea time, not being a tea drinker I am loving the herbal tea, but also we rest on a mat and the tour guide attempts to teach us a local dance. As I am getting up a tour mate sees a large white spider hanging on my pants behind my knee. I start freaking out and shake my leg. I do not see where it falls so I dont trust It is gone. I go around the corner to lower my pants to make sure no spiders have climbed up. None can be seen so I guess I am in the clear.

The rest of the hike is mostly very nice. We see animal prints and try to guess what made them, find holes in the ground, see white desert flowers, and even a goat leg randomly on rock (don’t want to know how it got there).

Everything is great until we hit the last 1.5km. It gets pretty hot, I am tired and it is uphill in loose red sand that I later rename to devil sand. I stop a few times back to camp but I eventually make it.

It is time for lunch which includes some very tasty meatballs in a curry yougurt sauce. They are amazing over rice.

I try relaxing in my tent but it is too hot. I decide it is a good time to shower and head into the dining area to relax since there is a nice cross breeze.

I read a little and chat with my tour mates. It is a nice and relaxing afternoon.