Our first stop on the south island of New Zealand was the city of Nelson, where Michi and I intended to go for some extensive hikes.
The Abel Tasman National Park features several scenic walks. Named after an explorer in the 17th century, the trails draw heaps of tourists to this area. We set off to do parts of the major track, called the “Abel Tasman Coast Track” – from Tonga Beach to Anchorage Bay. To get to the starting point, we had to take a water taxi from Marahau. On the way, we had time to spot penguins and a seal colony.
The walk through native forest, for parts alongside the sea was definitely spectacular, although the weather was – at times – not that perfect. The walking track itself was well prepared, almost a bit too much. Although not being a sealed path, it looked a bit like a wheelchair accessible path. And I wondered whether there might be Segways cruising along the Abel Tasman Coast Track in a couple of years from now. Well, I admit that this is a bit of a cynical remark, especially since we only have seen parts of this famous tramp.
The northern hub city, Nelson, was a perfect little New Zealand town and we decided to explore the surroundings as well. Having the habit of handing out names of Swiss lookalike cities, I gave Nelson the name of Spiez. Don’t ask me why I came to this particular association, I just felt like being in that Swiss town. In case you are a New Zealander reading this, my “lookalike-list” might therefore probably serve you as a reference, whenever you plan a visit to Switzerland.
Our hostel, the “Tasman Bay Backpackers” so far wins definitely the first place of being the coziest and nicest place on my journey. Free breakfast and chocolate cream in the evening come with the dorm. Staff were absolutely friendly and helpful. Which translated into a relaxed atmosphere among all the guests. This place will be hard to beat by any other hostel on my trip.
One of the returning gags seems to be the displays for hiking trails mentioning times that make no sense. We already managed to crawl purposely slowly along the Abel Tasman track in a bit under five hours, albeit the claimed seven hours it should take. Consequently, the walk we did around town – leading to the center of New Zealand – was featuring hilarious times as well. Advertised as an one hour return trip, we made it one way within less than fifteen minutes.
There must be a time-warping tramping wormhole along the hiking tracks here in New Zealand – or why else would we be at our destination in two thirds of the indicated times. Nevertheless, we decided to proceed – instead of going back – on the top of the hills surrounding Nelson. This proved to be a wise decision as there were loads of scenic views along this rather improvised tramp.
Finally, we went down the hills next to the coast line and the “Founders Heritage Park“. It features buildings and displays from the pioneering times, altogether with various memorabilia. Although a bit cheesy and touristy, I enjoyed walking through this park, trying to immerse into the times, when living or traveling through New Zealand was an adventure.
We left Nelson after three days. The weather would show more signs of spring and somehow we were so far lucky to have picked the worst days (weather wise) by sitting in buses, transferring from one town to another. Quite perfect.