Where do I even begin with Abel Tasman National Park? This beach. You guys. If I never see another beach again, I will die a happy gal. Golden sand is where it's at!
Abel Tasman is one of the national parks along the northern coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It was discovered by none other than Abel himself, a French explorer who later died in Paris in the first train accident. Whoops. Anyways...so he finds this beautiful land and a group of people try to farm it. Luckily for the whole world the land is either unsuitable or they were the worst farmers on earth, but either way, the land was eventually bought out by the government and turned into a national park. There are still a handful of homes privately owned, and I need to buy one asap.
Slou and I stayed in Nelson, a cute little fishing town about an hour from the park draped in hanging baskets of flowers. We arrived on New Year's Eve eve, so we treated ourselves to a nice dinner. I had some lamb, while Slou tried the famous green lipped muscles. Lori, here are some photos especially for you!
Blegh! We end the night with some dessert and good conversation. The next morning we drove out to the park and soaked up some seriously beautiful ocean views. We started in Kaiteriteri, laying out on the beach. I had wanted to climb around some rocks to get to a less populated beach, but then a mom with dreadlocks announced the presence of a sting ray about the size of a kitchen table that was floating nearby, and I decided the beach we were on would be just fine, thankyouverymuch. I keep forgetting that oceans aren't fresh like Big Blue.
After a couple hours of sun, we hopped a water taxi to Ancorage Bay, one of the more popular bays in the park. We saw Split Rock on the way--a famous rock split perfectly right down the middle. Also, can we talk about the color of that water? A-MAZ-ING.
We had hoped to go further, but we had been given poor directions from the hostel and arrived too late to catch a morning ferry. So this bay would have to do.
Unfortunately, Anchorage Bay was practicully deserted, the sand was too golden, and the water was too blue. Can you believe that? It's like it KNEW how to be a perfect beach. So rude.
But for reals. The bay was a perfect curve, with golden sand that morphed into lush, green forest. The water lapped quietly onto the sand while a few boats bobbed gently in the moring area. These beaches are only accessible by boat, and Ancorage Bay is the most protected bay. We saw a few people in some dingys or kayaks exploring bays, and I decided I will have to come back and do the same soon.
After a few minutes of general disbelief of our good furtune, we hiked to Cleopatra's Pools, a cute little swimming hole about an hour into the forest. The hike was a bit tiresome, but Slou and I discussed our highlights from 2015, what we were most proud of, and some general goals for 2016, so it went by fairly quickly. Slou loved the pools and bravely plunged into the icey waters. I wasn't blown away, so made myself useful as her paperazzi.
We hiked back to the beach and enjoyed the views a bit more before begrudgingly catching the ferry back to Kaiteriteri.
Seriously, this beach was perfect. And I was in a pretty grumpy mood all day due to our late start (I take my beaching seriously). Which tells you how perfect this beach had to have been for even Grumpy Liz to still think this was a major highlight of the trip so far.
Later that evening, we grabbed dinner with our new friend, Runa, who we met at our hostel before heading to Town Center to see the excitement of NYE! They had a DJ, fireworks, and accrobats! Everyone who was anyone was out and about in the streets, and we all counted down the new year together!
Honestly, 2015 was an amzing year--full of a lot of new experiences, new friends (both adults and babies), and new growth. This trip has been a culmination of hard work, generosity from others, inspiration from this year, and a little luck, and I am so grateful for all of it. Standing in Nelson, New Zealand, ringing in the new year after a day at the world's most beautiful beach (literally!) was the icing on the cake!