Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Side-trip: Abel Tasman National Park

About 350 years ago, a Dutch explorer named Abel Tasman came across two islands in the south pacific occupied by the Maori tribes, who called their land "Aotearoa" - the land of the long white cloud. 300 years later (to the day), the government of New Zealand honored Ol' Tasman by declaring the scenic northern coast of its southern island Abel Tasman National Park. After all, they had to give some credit to the Dutch after Captain Cook sailed by decades later and claimed all that land for the English. Besides, the government had already named the straight between the two islands Cook Straight, so they were running out of explorers.

As for the boys, business was good in Wellington - so good that they were already dying for a vacation. In fact, business was so damn good that only three of them were able to get two days off in a row to take the trip. So be it. Charlie, Morgan, and Trainer packed their swim trunks and sun screen and hopped on the ferry to the south island. It was kayaking time.

They stumbled out of bed before dawn - driving, pushing, and pulling Delilah to the wharf to catch the early-bird Interislander. The wind and clouds forced them to huddle deep inside their jackets as they waited to load up, and they crossed their fingers that they'd catch a break in the weather on the south island. Kayaking in 20 knots of wind has a few downsides. But the trip was on, and these boys were becoming men. There would be no turning back.

They needn't have feared. The clouds broke and the wind died almost as soon as Wellington was out of sight. Three hours later the ferry was landing in Picton on the south island, and the boys broke down to shorts and t-shirts as they walked the streets shaded in palm trees. Naturally, they stopped to watch the travesty that was the Chargers/Patriots playoff game, and after that set off for the drive to Motueka, gateway to Abel Tasman National Park. The weather, of course, was beautiful.

Dinner was the traditional adventure fare of gourmet pizza and wine, and the next day the boys were up at dawn again to catch the bus to the park. Their instructor was a four-year park veteran, and they were the first crew on the water. Sensing their prowess, the guide set off for an opening run of 4 klicks against the current and wind, and the boys did not dissapoint. They took tea in a secluded island cove, crossed to another island to find a maverick seal colony, and almost flipped out of their kayaks when one seal showed off by swimming under, around, and over them in one of the most impressive natural show-off sessions their guide had ever seen.

There were mussels for lunch, a game of Ultimate on the beach, and multiple sessions of swimming as the boys hopped from one cove to the next. With the wind behind them, they took a sail back into their port, and relaxed in the hot tub as they waited for their bus to pick them up again. Sun-burns were had by all, despite the sunscreen, and their guide promised them visits at their respective bars for the international rugby "Sevens" to be held in Wellington in mid-February, when, of course, the boys would be working.

Full photos available here.

1 comment:

Mom T. said...

Wow! What a beautiful place & such great weather! I'm envious. Glad you guys were able to go.