Category Archives: Outdoor adventures

Why you should walk/hike/tramp the Abel Tasman coastal track

I have experienced Abel Tasman National Park by kayak many years ago and as a day trip in more recent times with the kids but never hiked the trail so was excited to get to experience it with a school trip. Ok I will be honest there was a little trepidation about hiking 60km over 4 nights staying in Department of Conservation huts which are to say the least quite basic, with 12 children aged 11-13 but mostly I was excited.

Abel Tasman is New Zealand’s smallest national park located at the top of the South Island. There are actually two tracks; coastal and inland, through the national park which I didn’t know until I looked up Abel Tasman when I was writing this blog so suffice to say the coastal track is the most popular. And that’s not just in my opinion Wikipedia says that too.

Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

So chances are if you decide to walk/tramp/hike ( depending in where you come from as to how you describe getting along a trail on two feet) in the Abel Tasman National Park you will be on the coastal trail and I promise you wont be disappointed. This trail is so popular that the huts are booked 6 months in advance so planning your route, as always, is a good place to start. Be aware that Awaroa Inlet can only be crossed within 1 hour 30 minutes before and 2 hours after low tide so you may want to plan that in to your bookings.



Book your huts on the Department of Conservation website.

Our group stayed at Anchorage the first night, then Bark Bay, Awaroa and Whariwharangi. The walks in between these huts were very achievable, in fact as we were up early to catch the low tide crossing from Anchorage to bark bay and shaved 3km off our walk we actually had an afternoon relaxing at Bark Bay .

Anchorage
Anchorage

The accommodation on the trail is either in a tent that you have carried in along with everything else you need or a hut with shared sleeping rooms, a toilet and the cooking equipment that you have carried in so yes its quite a lot of gear that you are carrying.

So you have your accommodation booked, what now? Well in my case I started training, some people like to just wing it but I like to train to insure I get maximum enjoyment from the experience. So my daughter and I started walking short ( 5-6km ) distances with a 5-6 kg weighted backpack and slowly increased the distance to 10-12 kms with a 10-12kg backpack ( don’t feel that the distance needs to match your backpack weight just get out there and train )

So now you have your accommodation booked and you have done your training what’s next? Get out there and enjoy it. Before you go will read about Cleopatra’s pool and the beautiful golden sand beaches but I wasn’t prepared for the complete delight when the day trippers leave and you are one of about 30 people in the bay and then the next morning you get to watch the sun rise over a bay in almost complete solitude. At that point carrying all of your gear on your back to walk in to the wilderness makes perfect sense and I was pleased that it was a 4 day hike so I could experience that delight over and over.

Sunrise at Bark Bay, Abel Tasman
Sunrise at Bark Bay, Abel Tasman

The other thing I love about Abel Tasman is that there are so many different ways to experience it; by kayak which I highly recommend also, by foot, as day trippers in a bay or tramping between bays via water taxi or a combination. I was disappointed that we didn’t get to kayak on this trip as the waters around Abel Tasman are home to seals and dolphins.

In fact at one of my lunch time swims I thought I saw seals out on the headland but wasn’t sure as from a distance they do look like rocks, so imagine my surprise when soon after I got out a couple of seals turned up to give us a show.

On previous trips to Abel Tasman we have also seen dolphins so if you get the chance do jump in a kayak. The water taxi operators have various options of walking and kayaking and I even meet a group of people who were doing the track in a variety of ways; some walking, some kayaking and carrying the gear in the kayaks and then they would meet up at the hut each night.

Because water taxis do service the trail you will find quite a lot of day trippers at some of the beaches and walking the trail so in terms of solitude you definitely wont be the only person on the track. However, the water taxis do make the trail more achievable for people to do parts of the trail or a combination and can even shuttle in food and drop it further along the trail for you. Do talk to them about his before you book as the water taxis only go so far along the trail so again you need to get your logistics sorted.

All in all walking/tramping/hiking the Abel Tasman with my daughter’s school outdoor adventure club was one of the best adventures I have ever had and I cant wait to take my family back to experience the delights of truly experiencing the beauty and solitude of Abel Tasman National Park.

Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

Top tips

Just to clarify the low tide crossings, there are several spots where you can do a low or high tide option with the low tide option saving you a few kms but if its high tide you just walk the high tide route. This is NOT the case at Awaroa – there is only one way across and the inlet can only be crossed within 1 hour 30 minutes before and 2 hours after low tide so you want to know the tide before you book.

Department of Conservation who manage the trails and huts don’t guarantee the water is drinkable at the huts but it was when we were there.

Anchorage has lights in the kitchen/dining area and phone chargers. Two of the other huts we stayed in had lights in the kitchen/dining areas.

There are no shops along the way so make sure you take everything with you.

There is a café/restaurant at Awaroa but its a steep hill out of there so you might want to consider how much you want that flat white.

And if you decide a multi-day walk isnt for you then check out our day adventure into Abel Tasman National Park as a family.

More of our adventures in the area;

Tasman district.

Takaka adventures.

 

Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Trail

The Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Trail is one of the last of the 22 NZ cycle trails to be opened so when we got the chance to ride it right through in one day (without the kids) we jumped at it.…well, actually we cycled for 87km.

The trail ride was part of our summer holiday (including 12 days of camping) so the logistics, packing and planning for the kids to be looked after by my in-laws wore me out so much I was wondering whether I could do the whole ride in one day. However after we arrived at the Horeke Hotel in the early afternoon and relaxed on the deck, had a delicious meal and a great nights sleep I was ready to go.

Before I talk about the trail the Horeke area is worth a mention. Horeke is at the tip of the Hokianga Harbour and just a 45 minute drive from Paihia. Its New Zealand’s oldest town and boasted the second oldest pub – does that mean New Zealand had a pub before it had a town? Jonny from Paihia mountain bike and shuttles drove us over and we talked about all things mountain biking. He is also very knowledgeable on the area so it was a very interesting drive.



We arrived at Horeke about 4pm. The Horeke Hotel wont be the flashest hotel you ever stay in but it could be the coolest. Its also home to an abundance of local history in the living form of the owners storytelling and old painting collection. There is even an original local Treaty signed just after the Treaty of Waitangi.

The trail officially starts at the Māngungu Mission so we decided to check it out. Its only a 3km ride down a gravel road and a very picturesque wee spot with views over the Hokianga Harbour.

And 3km down another side road is the Wairere Boulders. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit but I hear its well worth the trip to see the stunning rock formations and wander around the boulders.

So after exploring the area near Horeke we returned to the pub to enjoy the views from the expansive deck. The menu for dinner looked simple, steak or fish option, maybe a little too simple I thought but it turns out the hotelier is a whizz in the kitchen and we had the most delicious dinner as the sun set over the Hokianga. The steak and fish were great and the accompanying vegetable dishes and thrice cooked fries were amazing.

The hotel has 3 rooms, two downstairs (one with harbour views) and one upstairs with 2 double and 2 single beds and the best views. Luckily a friend of ours has stayed here before and recommended the upstairs room so we had stunning views and loads of space.

After a good nights sleep we were up early to start the trail. And this is when I wish I had known to chat to the hotelier about the history of the area the night before. Once he gets started with the maori and early settler history and NZ history too its way to amazing and interesting to leave, so our ride start may have been a little delayed but our knowledge of local history was greatly enhanced.

So we set off about 8.30am along the road and across the board walk. I always find it hard when I start off on a long ride to pace myself and this was no different especially as it was just my husband and I riding so no group shenanigans to distract me.

Thankfully after about 5km I overcame my mental block about the distance and got distracted by my surroundings which were very picturesque and varied as we cycled along streams, through native bush and through countryside.

The first half of the ride is mostly gradual climbing but it is well graded and not too tough. There is only one quite steep hill climbing out of the valley up to Okaihau and I ended up pushing my bike. We made Okaihau for a perfectly timed morning tea as the owner was about to shut up shop for a catering job. The towns on this trail are few and far between (as they are on most of the New Zealand cycle trails) so make sure you bring your own supplies or plan ahead to make sure cafes are open when you get there.

From Okaihau you more or less follow the old railway line all the way to Kawakawa then Opua across bridges and through a couple of tunnels. The highest point of the ride is just north of Kaikohe then its pretty much all down hill riding to the coast. We arrived in Opua about 4pm and were pleased that Jonny had suggested to ride from the West to East Coast. Going this way you get almost all the climbing out of the way early on. The trail is very well built and not at all technical. It has good surface conditions and the overall gradient is not tough.

Of course, if riding the whole trail in one day sounds a bit much, you can always check out the accommodation along the way.

Top tips

This trail would suit older children or younger children in trailers or tag-a-longs.

There are a lot of barriers on the trail and I have read that if you have panniers you end up lifting your bike a lot. For us it just meant a lot of getting on and off.

Tips & tricks

IMG_8024This one is hot off the press after I had my power bank ( you know the thing you charge your phone with when you have no electricity ) removed from my checked in luggage last week when we flew to Nelson.

Lots of us now fly with power banks so be aware they need to be in your hand luggage. They will be taken from your checked-in luggage and a recent change to aviation security means they don’t need you to be present to open your luggage so you don’t know before you fly that its been taken out and you wont get it back.




As I pack for the 4 day Abel Tasman tramp next week I am aware of every gram going into my backpack but I still want to be prepared for a headache, hay fever, allergies, sore muscles or one of my random medical conditions so I grabbed this canister from a $2 dollar shop and labelled each section with the medication. The containers that hair clips and hair ties come in could also come in useful.


Plan and know your public holidays.

If you never have enough annual leave to do all the exploring you want, then you need to make the most of your public holidays.

When I get a new diary, writing in the public holidays is the first thing I do.

In New Zealand Easter and Anzac weekend are very close together this year and by taking 5 days annual leave you can get 12 days off – think of the exploring you could do with that.

Now go book an adventure!!!


Have you heard of Rawhiti Caves?

No? Neither had I until we got given a copy of NZ Frenzy off the beaten track guide. Full of well known and not so well known NZ adventures.

So three tips in one; add Rawhiti Caves to your South Island itinerary, check out NZ Frenzy guide and follow us as we explore off the beaten track


The new bike rack got the thumbs up from the third footman ( aka my husband ).
It didn’t bounce around on the towbar and the bikes didn’t rub together. Still takes a while to strap all the bikes on but I guess that is unavoidable with 4 bikes.
Bit hard to see in the pic. Its the Towball Mount 4 Bike Channel Rack.


20170212_152746

We love the Waeco chilly bins, and not just for keeping your drinks icy cold when you are camping. Also fab for post adventuring picnic lunches.
I reckon we have got our money back on the cost of the chilly bin with savings in food not being wasted and being able to travel with your own picnic complete with icy cold drinks.
They come in a range of sizes but as yet I haven’t found one that I can take on the mountain bike.


41A345DC-4797-4961-85DA-E2B146D8304DMy 9 year old recently starting riding an adult sized bike and it got me thinking about the importance of riding on the right size frame. Its natural to think that a smaller bike is easier for kids to ride when in fact it can give them less leg power and smaller wheels don’t roll over bumps as easily. While your child may be a way off an adult sized bike, do take a look every few months to check their bike size and whether they need their seat put up .


Lets talk first world problems today – how to comfortably run or walk with your mobile. I have tried a lot of different options over the years but this tiny bit of lycra (an SPI belt )is the most comfortable and convenient option I have found. And yes I probably should be in the moment when I am out running or walking but I do like to take photos and honestly you just never know when you are going to find a lost puppy and need to call the owners


Of course we all know that the license plates on our car have to be visible at all times and if you have your bikes on the back of the car the license plate might not be so easy to see, but did you know in New Zealand its a $200 fine for obscuring your license plate…eekkkk.

We have driven round for years with bikes on the back of the car without even thinking about the license plate. Thankfully a mountain bike park did a windscreen flyer drop highlighting the issue and we jumped online immediately and bought the supplementary plates.

When you head out adventuring this weekend you are going to want this one….especially if you are in NZ where its been very wet and consequently muddy out there!!
I like to think I plan for things but I never plan for mud, let’s just call me an optimist, so when we finished the Timber Trail I was very pleased to find these plastic bags under the seats of the car.


Much as I would like life to be all about fun and adventuring sometimes its about boring admin and today’s tip is about admin, but if it saves you from the stress we are going through with credit card fraud then you can get back to fun and adventuring.
I wont get into the boring details of our on-line credit card fraud and of course you never think its going to happen to you but when it does its very stressful.
There are several things that could have happened differently to stop our credit card fraud getting so out of control. I will put them in the comments and if you have any tips I would love to hear them


OK this isnt 100% my tip…. Cycle Coach – Janet Stark shared a tip in Cycling in New Zealand biking tips, that when you are training for an event or a longer walk or ride you dont have to travel for miles to do the training – just walk or ride out your front door.
With Old Ghost Rd ride and Abel Tasman walk coming up I have lots of training to do, so this was a very timely reminder. Its actually the way we trained for the Tongariro Crossing with the kids a few years ago and most of our trail rides – just around the streets of Auckland .
So what are you waiting for, book in that hike or ride and hit the streets for some training


If you find that the family cant quite keep up with whats happening, then the self-adhesive white board could help keep everyone in the loop. Ours is on the sliding door into our kitchen so we can slide it away when its not needed but should anyone not be able to remember what the next adventure is then it’s all there for the whole family to see. Also useful in the school hols when the kids keep asking whats happening.


20170206_085505Summer in NZ is officially over today and some would say it never really fired. However, we have had some fab camping adventures and its been very sunny & hot. Sometimes you might not have trees on your site so it pays to take lots of shade.

Flying with your bike… and no not over the handlebars

With so many great cycle trails all over New Zealand, chances are you are going to want to take your bike on a plane sometime soon in which case here are a few tips to make it easier ( make sure you read to the end for the most important thing we learned recently )

1. Bikes have to be in bike boxes or bags sold specially for the purpose. Air NZ sell bike boxes for $25 or ask your friendly local bike shop if they have any bike boxes they can give you. If you have a 29” remember to ask for the appropriate size.

2. After removing wheels insert some cardboard in between the disc pads.



3. Getting to the airport can be quite difficult especially with 4 bike boxes and 4 people. We didn’t find an ideal way to get to the airport so ended up taking two cars ( thankfully one driven my Mum) or if you cant find someone to drop you off, take your car with bike rack and a taxi, uber or airport shuttle for the family/extra people.

4. Of course, if you aren’t riding from the airport or getting a shuttle at your destination, you need a rental car, preferably from a rental car company that has bike racks. If you happen to be going to Nelson we highly recommend Nelson Auto Rentals.

5. Take your roll of tape with you to pack up the bike boxes for your return trip.

6. If you need your bike boxes to return on the plane make sure you have somewhere to store them.

7. And lastly, be aware that your bike might not make it on the same flight as you. As we found out, airlines do not guarantee it. Not sure of the solution to this one and its probably only an issue when you are on a small plane ( like the one to Nelson ) or if there are a lot of bikes on the same flight ( we had 13 ). The ground crew might start hyperventilating and all the bikes mightn’t make it on to the same flight. This could wreak havoc with your plans if you were flying to the start of your cycling adventure and some bikes got delayed. But lucky for us it only happened when we were coming home.

These tips are based on our flight from Auckland to Nelson for 13 riders.

The Tasman Region

My husband and I were on our way to mountain biking the Old Ghost Rd on the West Coast of the South Island.  We decided to head back to Kaiteriteri which we loved on our South Island camping trip, revisit some old favourite spots and explore some new ones in the area and head over to Nelson with the kids before we hit Old Ghost Rd.

Here are our the highlights from our recent trip.

MOUNTAIN BIKING AT KAITERITERI

This mountain bike park is in such a great location – right beside the stunning Kaiteriteri beach. Love the trails and the views from the top are stunning. The trail shown in the video is Jaws – an awesome trail, you just have to make it to the top to enjoy the never ending downill.

RIWAKA RESURGENCE

NZ Frenzy travel guide does it again with a recommendation for a stunning 10-minute bush walk through lush native bush to the Riwaka Resurgence where the river emerges from under the Takaka Hills.



I was expecting to be amazed by the water rushing from under the rocks ( and I was ) but it was really the mesmerising native bush that made the whole experience truly amazing and all only 15 minutes from Motueka and a 10 minute walk from the carpark. New Zealand you never cease to amaze me!!!

P.S. if you are looking for off the beaten track adventures check out NZ Frenzy travel guide by googling it online.

FEEDING EELS AT JESTERS CAFE ON THE WAY TO MAPUA

Sometimes it’s the completely unplanned things that turn out to be lots of fun. When we saw that AA (NZ’s Automobile Association and chief sign poster) were signposting tame eels on the Mapua Peninsula we thought it was worth a visit and even from the entrance it was a little bit of a different experience having to cross a Ford.

The eels are in a stream beside Jesters Café so be prepared for the kids to want to buy something but the whole experience of feeding eels and the lovely grounds for kids to play in not to mention great food and prices at the café made the whole experience a worthwhile investment in café and eel food.

P.S. we actually went in the Eel Festival (who knew that was a thing?) so the eel food was free in the October school holidays.

EXPLORING THE MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS BY CAR

The Marlborough Sounds coastline has 1/5 of the length of New Zealand’s coasts and is mainly accessible by water so heading out to French Pass is one of the few places to access the Sounds by road and view massive tidal flows through French Pass.

It’s a 4 hour plus round trip from Nelson on a narrow windy, at time gravel road and initially we were disappointed as the bush obscured the views but the last 20km to French Pass is through farmland with unobstructed views on both sides of the peninsula. As we were there in Spring we also had unobstructed views of lambs and very excitable children so it was sensory overload with squeals of delight from adults and children alike.

The last shop is at Okiwi Bay so take your supplies, check the weather forecast as the views are best enjoyed on a clear day and set aside a full day for the drive – you wont be disappointed.

TAHUNANUI BEACH AND NELSON MODELLERS

Not only is Tahunanui Beach a stunning spot, it has a great range of playgrounds and activities for the kids including the Nelson Modellers which has an outdoor and indoor model railway which runs on

We had such a great time in the Tasman District and there is still so much to do – we cant wait to go back,

Read about our first visit to the region;

Other biking in the area;

Tasman great taste trail

Mountain bike at Dun Mountain