Abel Tasman National Park
Country: New Zealand by Lisette
The day after walking an amazing 28 kilometres of the Queen Charlotte Track, I found myself in the bus going to Nelson. With almost a month into my New Zealand itinerary, I felt I couldn’t afford a leisurely day. And so I arranged for another long walk – the Abel Tasman National Park has handsome beaches and panoramic views like no other park.
As you can imagine, the name of the park is after the Dutch navigator, Abel Janzoon Tasman, who was the first European to sight New Zealand in 1642. Less than a month after discovering Tasmania (first named Van Diemen’s Land) in Australia, Tasman laid anchor in the bay here. Eight canoes with local Māori came out at dawn and a skirmish followed (I am unsure of the how and what happened) that lead Tasman to leave with his two ships.
Many people warned me that the park is rather boring, with the Abel Tasman Coastal Track along boring beaches. Yet, my experience was quite different as due to high tide I walked only shortly on one beach and then went back into the forest. That same high tide shortened my trip because I had to return on time as otherwise I had to swim back a fair distance, so I hiked a short twelve kilometres.
Compared to Abel Tasman, I was more enamoured with the Marlborough Sounds, but I enjoyed the walk nonetheless. Again I walked with a couple of people I just met. It should not come as a surprise they were Dutch and English this time, as together with the Germans they were the main tourist groups in New Zealand in 2005. (Note 2013: nowadays most tourists come from Asian countries.)
The rest of the day and the following day were spent resting in Greymouth. I was stunned as I walked around the place. This is an uncharacteristic ugly, grey city with old buildings that need immediate renovation. The constant rain made it look even worse. The Youth Hostel was luckily a cute place with a living room that makes you feel at ease and almost at home. With the rain coming down, making a soft sound of the windows, I enjoyed a quiet day watching videos and reading up on what’s coming up next… the glacier Franz Josef.