Thursday, 7 August 2014

Into The Wild Blue Yonder

And what a beautiful day it was to launch the Takacat and head off to the Abel Tasman National Park to explore.

It was a little bit scary for me heading out to sea with only a bit of rubber & a cushion of air between me & the deep blue sea. I said a silent ‘we’ll see you soon’ to “Out There” as we passed on the seaward side of the rocks between Kaka Pah Point & tiny Kaka Island (which was once a Maori urupa- burial ground)

It’s not like I haven’t been out in the dinghy before, I have, at Mavora Lakes but it’s a little different when land doesn’t surround you on four sides and a rather large bay stretches out in front of you. But I needn’t have worried, the sea was calm all the way over to Fisherman Island which is on the edge of the National Park. In the photo below, Kaiteriteri is behind the last limestone point across the bay, centre left. And in case you’re wondering why the bow is down on the dinghy, it’s because the beach wheels are engaged at the back.

With a smooth sea it was possible to see any marine life along the way. We passed a few Little Blue Penguins floating about, a couple of seals swimming by and a number of startled shags as they surfaced near by, they very quickly dived again as we approached. Much further out we could see flocks of seabirds feeding and chasing schools of fish. Fisherman Island, a bird sanctuary, is a very small island with just this one small beach available at low tide.

We weren’t the only ones out enjoying winter sunshine and calm seas. Marahau & the start of the Abel Tasman Walk is over the back right of the kayak.

We headed around Fisherman island on the seaward side coming across a fairly large Spotted Shag (Parekareka) colony roosting on the rocks. The Spotted Shag is endemic to New Zealand and we found them feeding and roosting in many places along the coastline and around the islands. When I was processing the photos I was surprised to spot something else resting on the rocks; a seal fast asleep on top!

On our first trip up the coast we headed home after circuiting Fisherman Island, travelling back along the coastline exploring and stopping at Split Apple Rock along the way. On our second outing we thought we might make it past Fisherman & Adele Islands & around Pitt Head into Anchorage & Torrent Bay but once we got to the first point of Pitt Head we turned into a stiff breeze and choppy waters so we decided to give that a miss and turned around and headed back to Adele Island, which is alongside Fisherman Island and another bird sanctuary. This is the view as we approach from the north, with Huffam Rock to the right.

As we approached we could hear an amazing amount of bird song coming from the bush with many small birds flitting in and out of the trees. And then from the rocks we could hear the plaintive cries of seal pups which sound very much like babies crying (or goats). As we got closer we could see seals everywhere, both babies and adults; sheltering under rocks, on rocks sunning themselves, under bushes further up the slope, waving at us from the water and frolicking about with each other in amongst the kelp.

Most of the adults weren’t concerned about us approaching, there are many kayaks that visit Adele Island so the seals are used to having people up close but this little pup wasn’t too sure, it kept looking at us & then back at it’s mother sticking it’s nose down close to her and then back at us again like it was saying “Mum, mum wake up, quick wake up”. Mum slept on. And going by her dry coat she looks to have been sleeping on for quite some time even while her baby had been for a swim.

And then I spotted this seal who looked rather familiar…..similar facial features to my favourite coloured sheep.

Across at Huffam Rock we could see a seal hauling itself out of the water and then watching as two or three of it’s mates were playing in the water, you can see them to the far right of the larger photo. As we approached it “ran” across the rock and launched itself back into the sea chasing the others that had now swum in close.

There was also more shag colonies on the steep rock faces just along from the seals. The shags were flying in and landing while we were alongside. It is amazing how steep the rock was and how the shags were quite happy roosting on such a steep slope. I think they must have been soaking up the warmth from the north facing rocks. There were dozens of shags on the other side of this rock too although not on such a steep face. Between the seals & the shags ‘tis no wonder that the fishing is not good.

We came across another group of kayakers around the corner with their lunch boxes safely strapped on in front of them. There are many tour companies offering various combinations of walk, kayak and boating options in the Park, costing on average $150-$200pp for a full days outing. We feel very privileged that we can do this virtually for free & in our own time while on our travels. We do live in a beautiful country.

We pull into a tiny beach with a mix of gold & black sand on Adele Island to read the sign and scan for birds. Disappointingly there are no tracks on the island and the bush edge overhangs the steep cliffs and rock edges of the island so there is no way we can search further for birds.

A couple of Variable Oystercatchers (Torea) wile away the afternoon on their favourite rock just off the beach and are not perturbed as I move in close for a shot of the crystal clear sparkling waters that make the Able Tasman National Park so popular and memorable. Even in the winter.

We follow the rocky shoreline further around Adele Island and have lunch bobbing about in the dinghy in a tiny sheltered cove before pushing on and out into the bay where the wind is getting up and we spot the large catamaran that takes tourists out sailing in Tasman Bay, it moors at one of the buoys in our tiny bay back at Kaiteriteri.

The yacht beats us home as we take a longer more sheltered route hugging the coastline & passing Split Apple Rock along the way once again.


  1. Replies
    1. Apparently not :) And according to the locals there is no fish out there either, sandy bottom & too many birds! Maybe Golden Bay will play ball.... ;)


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