Friday, 31 October 2008

Abel Tasman: perfect water in NZ

One of the best days we have enjoyed in all whole time away was sea kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park in the north-east peninsula of the south island.
The charm of New Zealand is that it is full of crazy outdoor adventures. I kept telling myself I was working up to the bungy. Kathy was having none of it. The closest we had come so far was the luge in Queenstown. It was actually my belated birthday present. The cable car takes you to the top of the hill and then you charge down on a 3 wheeled pastic engineless cart. It was tremendous fun, the five times that we each raced down the steep track just wasn´t enough.
But Abel Tasman was a different kind of adrenalin rush. The slow, thoughtful kind. It was beautiful day for starters. The sky was blue, the water still and the 3 kayaks in our group were the only people out there. One of the pleasures about being somewhere off-season is that when the weather is right it feels like you are the only tourists in the world and you don´t need to share your experience with anyone else. In China, that had been almost impossible but on that day it was just perfect.

Our kayak was a tandem version with myself at the front and Kathy steering from behind... as always! After we got in the water and started to paddle, there isn´t much to tell. It just felt amazing to gently work our way round the coastline. We spotted oyster catchers, shags and seals and our guide, Josh, told us tales of the early Maori settlers in the area.
Lunch was had in an idyllic little coved beach. Kathy and myself wasted no time to strip down to oor dookers and charge into the sea. ´JESUS!!!´ It was c c c c frEEZING! I lasted about a whole ten minutes but Kathy, never one to shy from a contest, endured the baltic waters for at least another 10mins. One of the English lads with us, was inspired by our fine example and raced into the chill in his pants. The 2 young Swiss lads didn´t seem impressed. They stayed marooned and bored on their rock. It was obvious that they had still to reach the overgrown kid stage yet!
After lunch we left our party behind and followed a short trek around the rest of the peninsula. Later we were picked up by the sea taxi and taken back to base. I spent the time on the journey back calculating how I could afford to buy a kayak. It is really very similar to a campervan. You store all your provisions in the body of the kayak and are free to roam wherever you like. Weather permitting, Scotland is perfect for it.

You´re probably wondering why I´ve not yet mentioned anything to do with food yet. Well don´t worry, here it comes. After another heavy day of exercise we were more than ready to eat. A take away was on the cards. In town there was all the usual suspects: fish n´chips, curry, Chinese. No, not tonight. Our take away tea was from somewhere that specialised in roast lamb and all the trimmings. It was New Zealand after all and it tasted just like mum´s home cooking. Roast lamb, roast tatties, carrots, peas, pumpkin, kumara (sweet potato), cauliflower cheese and a massive ladleful of gravy on top. We forced it down with a bottle of L&P, which is NZ´s answer to Irn Bru. We´re thinking of opening a chain when we return home.

A gentle paddle followed by a roast tea; now that´s my kind of day. The bungy doesn´t even get a look in...

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