Our ferry crossing to the South Island was more than two hours in the fog. Kate and I tried to stay out on the top deck, but the drizzle and chill finally sent us inside for a cappuccino and warm scone. Inside Brian and Jim had both found a place to nap. Fortunately we basked in sunshine for the last hour or so and we were thrilled to see the forested high green hilly islands of Queen Charlotte Sound.
I need to expand my vocabulary to include more variations of the words, blue and green, as there certainly are many bejewelled shades of both when it comes to water and trees. The drive from Picton to Nelson demonstrated that the South Island has hilly S bends just like the North Island, but now there are even more hairpin turns and if we fall off the side, we will be in the sea. Brian has taken up driving in the past couple of days and has mastered left hand driving with round-abouts.
Tonight all four of us are ready to crash with various aches and pains, some with burning feet, some with aching knees and hips or shoulders, all headed to bed with a pain pill. We tramped for 25 kilometres of the south end of the Abel Tasman track, and in spite of groaning, we are jubilant that all of us finished. Even in the drizzle of the first two hours, the track is beautiful. We certainly were not alone. There were many hikers of all ages on the trail, although curiously most were going in the opposite direction from us.
The locals who described the trail as “flat” must have been referring to the surface of the trail as relatively “smooth” as for the most part it was not plagued with boulders, only tree roots ( for me to stub my toes). Jim kept reminding me that I had said, prior to our excursion, that the track was “easy” because it was “flat”. It was not flat. Brian’s GPS showed us that we climbed more than 100 metres then, naturally, we descended as much and started the upward climb all over again, with hairpin turns being a dominant feature.
To get to Bark Bay to begin our hike, we took the Marahau water taxi. Our captain gave us insight into the history of the area and steered the boat out to sea when he spotted dolphins. Never have any of us seen so many dolphins. Four pods of thirty or forty dolphins cavorted along side and all around our taxi. Our cameras could not capture the Speed or beauty of these magnificent creatures.