Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The in-betweens 

I know, there's like 500 pictures of our trip. Well, more like 562 but I so graciously narrowed it down, so you're welcome. Only one more post after this and then I can get back to my regularly scheduled Netflix evening routine (I turn into a useless blob after 7:00, what can I say). So as much as we loved lazy days at the beach house, we figured there were so many other things that we wanted to see in this neck of the island. We picked a sunny day to visit Wharariki beach, but getting a triple thread day (no rain, no clouds and no wind) is about as common as a unicorn. So we had two out of the three working in our favor but that wind was brutal. Like we couldn't even hear each other speak and you had a righteous fear of getting blown off a cliff. This was our second attempt at this beach (the first started pouring rain) so we decided to tackle the wind. The walk was beautiful, you start out on farm land where you admire the grazing sheep and try not to step on poo.

(I believe this was from Cape Farewell, a short walk next to it and the most northern point of the south island, I just am too lazy to put the pictures back in order)

Then you walk through a forest and end up at the most amazing sand dune beach. I remember going to the sand dunes when I was younger and having the best time. Until my Uncle convinced me (with the best intentions, of course) that the sand was so soft that if he spun me around by my feet and let go then I would land on the sand like a pillow. I ended up with the wind knocked out of me and braces full of sand. I would not recommend it. The only problem is that with gale force winds on a sand dune the sand feels like needles stabbing into your legs and also renders you temporarily blind. They had some really cool caves on the beach and rumors of lots of seal pups, but it was all we could do to just find a hill to hunker down behind and wait for the energy to make the long walk back in the wind. The kids still loved practicing their ninja jumps and I can't wait to come back next year.

It was too much for poor Ryder to handle, so he did the only logical thing and curled up under my skirt and fell fast asleep. Don't mind that with his feet poking out it looks like I'm giving birth to a 30 lb baby.

And then our triple thread day came, and she was a beauty. We didn't see a cloud in the sky and nothing more than a slight breeze the entire day and I actually wore shorts for the um...second time ever in NZ. We wanted to squeeze out every last drop of sunshine and planned a lot for this day. First stop the Te Waikoropupu Springs, with a visibility of over 200 feet it is very close to optically pure water, the only water in the world that is more clear is found beneath Antarctica’s near-frozen Weddell Sea (thank you Google). It is considered sacred to the Maori people so you aren't allowed to even touch it, but they did have a pump that you could drink some. Too bad for us that it was out of order and we lost our one chance at drinking holy water. But they were still pretty cool to see.

Then we went to the Labyrinth Rocks Park, a natural outcrop of huge limestone rocks and tunnels that they turned into a maze. Very cool and very Indiana Jones-ish (of course after this we had to come home and have an Indiana Jones movie marathon, which was a blast from the 1980's past and I found a sudden urge to tight roll my jeans)

Finding the happy meal toys they had hidden through out was probably the biggest highlight for the kids. (And I swear, in 99% of the pictures Maddox is grabbing himself. Is it the age? Tell me it's the age)

And then we went to the Wainui Falls. We knew it was a little longer hike, but there was promise of swimming in crystal clear lagoons under the falls so I convinced the kids it would be worth it. They're quickly beginning to realize that they can't always trust me. We loaded up with beach towels, mats, sunscreen, enough food and water to last us a week then headed on the longest. hike. ever. We were hot, sweaty, exhausted, shoes had broken and backs felt broken. And this was only 15 minutes into it. They did have a really cool Tarzan inspired swing bridge. We were pretty confident in its construction knowing it had a one person limit.

We finally made it there but the water is freezing and it's so powerful that you can't really swim in it, you get soaked by the mist just standing hundreds of feet away. Right then and there we all decided if you've seen one waterfall you've seen them all. See what spoiled nature snobs we've become, it's embarrassing.

we stopped to rest at some pools further down and just when the tears and whining were becoming unbearable, we were saved by an eel. The ever elusive river eel that the kids have been dying to find ever since they learned of its existence 5 months ago. It was stranded in a little area so we fed it bread, touched it, named it, then lifted it with sticks into more open water. We did our good turn for the day and everyone was in a much better mood after that. But it still didn't make up for the past 2 hrs.

And then we drove over a mountain on a narrow dirt road wondering if the beach on the other side would be worth it or if it would just be like all the other beaches. It was soooo worth it. I've never seen sand that color, instead of making sand castles we made batches of peanut butter cookies. And the clear water with all those vibrant blues and greens was out of this world. It's Totaranui Bay,  the only beach in the Abel Tasman National Park that is accessible by road (if you can call it that). And it was such a teaser that now I want to embark on the 5 day backpacking trail through the rest of the park. But judging by the waterfall hike, I don't think we'll be doing that any time soon.

This little Lagoon looked straight off the set of Jurassic Park. Or Lost. I just knew if I were to knock on those rocks they would be nothing but hollow fiber glass. Kylie borrowed my camera to take a picture, she took like 20 then gave up because she just couldn't get a picture that looked as amazing as it did in real life. I know, sister, I know.

We eventually made our way home when I realized we were clean out of snacks and the kids were starving and the nearest city was an hour away. And then it rained the entire next day. But we went to bed knowing we made the most out of every minute of that sunshine.


Tyson and Dawn Jolley said...

I love that picture of you and Jason at the end! And never apologize for the overoload of pictures, they are awesome!!! Had a dream last night I talked to you on the phone...guess emailing isn't enough for me anymore! I'll email you tonight with all my ultrasound updates! Give those kids a hug and kiss for me!

Kyoo said...

I'm so glad someone else confirmed that Totaranui Bay is incredible. We did the Abel Tasman coastal trek in 3 days and it rained a ton and involved a lot more up and down than my brain thought was appropriate for a COASTAL trek. And the last morning was beating us up hard with rain. We got to Totaranui and were waiting for our "water taxi" when it cleared up without warning and we were able to enjoy that glorious beach for about an hour. You should totally do the trek next year...

Janessa said...

I'm glad you got at least two out of the three. That wind looks brutal though! I love the picture of Cape Farewell. It should be on a calendar. 93% of your pictures should be on a calendar! I totally remember your sand dune story! Sand in the braces and all!!! I can't get over those beautiful white sand dunes. Wow! Too bad about that wind though. That picture of Ryder sleeping under your dress is hilarious! I'm glad you finally got your triple thread day and enjoyed it to the max, shorts and all! Those springs are so beautiful. How cool is that? A real live Indiana Jones adventure?! You should totally bring back the tight rolled jeans. I remember you had that down to a T! Too bad your monster hike wasn't more rewarding (though I think the waterfall is totally cool, yes, you're becoming nature snobs:) Yay for the redeeming eel! And yet another perfect beach. I love the diversity in even the beaches there. What cool "peanut butter" sand! Is that a star fish that Ryder is holding? So cool! And you're right, it all looks like a perfect Hollywood set it's so perfect! I love that last picture of you and Jason! What cuties:)

Jodee said...

Its official, I don't know you anymore. 5 day treks, one person suspension bridges and eel rescues? I am convinced this place has stolen my Jamie. ;)
Amazing trip Jame! Amazing! That blue sky, the green grass, the crystal clear water and vast colors of sand... what are you to do when you go back to brown AZ? Oh, right, stay nice and WARM all year long ;)