Great Taste Ride
Tuesday, February 16
Today was the scheduled start of our three-day, kayak-and-hike in Abel Tasman National Park. I had done careful research, made the appropriate bookings with a rental company willing to accommodate our itinerary, and we had prepared and packed the night before. Enthusiasm was high. Unfortunately, the pressure was dropping. As in atmospheric pressure.
The weather was on the downhill, heading towards inclemency. Specifically, the remnants of a Pacific typhoon were aimed towards central New Zealand, and the forecast called for rain, strengthening winds, and fairly high seas. Not exactly appetizing from any perspective: comfort, enjoyment, safety.
Abel Tasman Kayaks
Even on this morning, with skies already darkening, we hadn't definitively decided to cancel. With our gear fully packed and everything ready to go, we journeyed the short way north to the tiny seaside settlement of Marahau, hard up against the southern boundary of Abel Tasman National Park. We turned into the parking lot of Abel Tasman Kayaks - our rental company - and registered our arrival.
Employees hustled to and fro, kayaks and gear were laid out across the lot in preparation for outings - nothing looked out of the ordinary, despite the forecast. We struck up conversations with both the lead co-ordinator and our individual instructor, and while both were aware of the weather, they didn't appear to be overly concerned - although they did admit that it looked like it was going to be unpleasant and rough out there, especially the following day.
It was hard to read the situation. No doubt they were aware of the weather, and aware that many of their customers weren't sea-kayaking experts. On the other hand, they had a business to run, and showing fear and refunding costs probably wasn't in their interest. After all, surely this kind of situation happened all the time, and I hadn't heard reports of whole teams of kayakers heading down to Davy Jones' locker. Still, the forecast of torrential rains and 30-knot seas on the middle day of our trip didn't strike me as something into which I should willingly guide our group.
The lead co-ordinator was quite helpful, and understood our hesitation. After some brainstorming, he offered the opportunity to slide our trip dates forward by a couple of days, no cost to us, and he would handle the re-booking of park camping facilities. We discussed this amongst ourselves for a bit; the forecast two days hence was quite good - a period of increasingly clear and good weather. We calculated that our overall trip itinerary could absorb this delay, and if the group was villing to drop a planned visit to Milford Sound, we could do it.
And so, we did - we decided to scrub today's trip start. We'd stay in the Tasman Bay area, waiting for the inclement weather to pass, then return in two days to explore the beautiful coastline of Abel Tasman. Many thanks to the accommodating staff at Abel Tasman Kayaks.
Mapua Bike Rental
We now had two unplanned days to spend in the Tasman Bay / Nelson area. We first returned to our Top 10 Holiday Park, where we secured accommodation for the next two nights. After that, we mused a bit about what to do for the rest of the day. The rain associated with the typhoon remnants wasn't due to hit until later in the day, so we did have some relatively comfortable outdoor-time available to us today.
Pu and Andy suggested a cycle ride, and, in fact, a segment of one of New Zealand's Great Rides called the "Great Taste" trail.