Saki at Whariwharangi Bay in Abel Tasman Park, South Island, New Zealand, February 9, 2006 Susan at Anapai Bay Rocks in Abel Tasman Park, South Island, New Zealand, February 9, 2006


New Zealand and California Trip 2006

Last updated March 7, 2006



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Kayaking in Abel Tasman | Nelson | Muir Woods | Friends and Family

Kayaking in Abel Tasman Park, New Zealand
On February 8-12, 2006, Susanita (Susan), and I participated in the Five Day Eco Explorer Tour with the Sea Kayak Company. We paddled approximately 40 miles over five days, covering the length of Abel Tasman Park on the northern side of the South Island in New Zealand. We paddled a huge Dobbe Double fiberglass tandem kayak with our own personal carbon fiber Epic wing paddles while others paddled one person plastic Penguin kayaks. In our boats, we carried all our camping gear and food, getting resupplied after the third day. We ate pasta, mussels, sweet and sour noodles, curry rice, carrot cakes, cold cuts, muesli cereal, pancakes, croissants, muffins, crackers, pate, coffee, tea, and juice. It rained at least a little bit every day. Temperatures had highs in the 70s with water temperatures in the 60s.

Other trip participants included
  • Leigh: The trip guide. Leigh is also a native Kiwi, a drummer, whitewater paddler, and rock climber.
  • Rhyanon: An Aussie anesthesiologist.
  • Art: A Major in the Canadian Army.
  • Ron: A Canadian police officer.

  • Mussels in Apple Tree Bay

    Mussel Boat, February 8, 2006

    Saki kayaking on February 8, 2006

    Day 1: February 8
    We were driven to a beach just north of the park. We ate some carrot cake then launched from Tata Bay. We paddled about 5.8 miles in cloudy and rainy weather, seeing mussels on rocks (both mature and infant, see first photo on left) and about four seals. We paddled through a mussel farm where a boat takes care of mussels growing on hanging cables (see second photo on left). We landed at our Whariwharangi Bay campsite where we dined on crackers, fresh mussels, and pasta. Third photo on left shows me in back of tandem kayak.
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    Seal swimming at surface, February 9, 2006

    Group photo at Anapai Bay, February 9, 2006

    Blue jellyfish, February 9, 2006

    Waiharakeke Bay, February 9, 2006

    Day 2: February 9
    Greeted by a sunny dawn, Susan and I hiked on the trails near the Whariwharangi Bay campground. The first photo on the top left corner of this page shows me on the trail. After breakfast, our group packed up and launched. We saw about 25 seals, including a suckling baby. First photo on left shows a seal in the water. We paddled to Anapai Bay for lunch and exploring. See second photo on left for lunchtime photo. From left to right is shown Rhyanon, Leigh, Art, me (sitting), Susan (in blue), and Ron (in sunglasses). Second photo at top left corner of this page shows Susan standing on the beach. We saw several hundred small blue jellyfish (about 1.75 inches long) washed up on the beach (see third photo on left). Then we paddled to the beach near our campsite at Waiharakeke Bay (see fourth photo on left) after paddling a day's total of about 7 miles. Black flies attacked our ankles and enjoyed the sun as much as us. We explored the nearby trails. Ron ventured off at night and found glow worms.
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    Bark Bay trail, February 10, 2006

    Waterfall Creek, February 10, 2006

    Bark Bay estuary, February 10, 2006

    Susan playing Jenga, February 10, 2006

    Day 3: February 10
    We launched into three foot surf then tackled four foot swells. As we ventured further out into open water, the swells got six foot high and started to break. We headed to Awaroa until the weather settled. While trying to land, the waves turned our boat sideways and flipped it. We had coffee and tea at an Awaroa restaurant. After a couple of hours, the waves settled so we paddled through the Tonga Island Marine Reserve against the wind, facing four foot swells for about 90 minutes. After a hard 9.8 mile paddle, we camped at Bark Bay. Susan and I explored the trails (see first photo on left), Waterfall Creek (see second photo on left), and a big estuary (see third photo on left). Later, we introduced our group to a game called Jenga. In the fourth photo on the left, Susan demonstrates her high level of concentration, skill, and balance by carefully removing a block from the structure and placing it on top. After dusk, Susan and I looked for glow worms but found none.
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    Torrent Bay, February 11, 2006

    Te Pukatea Bay, February 11, 2006

    Watering Cove, February 11, 2006

    Whale bone cervical vertebrae, February 11, 2006

    Watering Cove trail view, February 11, 2006

    Day 4: February 11
    We launched in the morning and paddled to a place near Torrent Bay beach. We climbed to high ground for a scenic view of the water below. See first photo on left for hilltop photo. From left to right is shown Ron, Rhyanon, Art, Susan, and me. We paddled on to Te Pukatea Bay for lunch and trail exploring (see second photo on left). We saw a woodpigeon. Venturing onward, we camped at Watering Cove after paddling about 7.5 miles. See third photo on left for view at Watering Cove. Susan and I managed to secure a tent site with a beach view. Interestingly, this was our first and only campsite without a flush toilet (we had a drop toilet instead). We found a whale bone cervical vertebrae on the beach (see fourth photo on left), identified as such by Rhyanon, a medical doctor. That afternoon, we explored the trails and saw some of the most scenic views on the trip (see fifth photo on left). That night, we played Jenga and had a little talent show which turned competitive. Ron found more glow worms and showed the rest of us. There must have been at least 100 in a wet area. The worms were too small to see but their light was unmistakeable.
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    Saki paddling into cave, February 12, 2006

    Split Apple rock, February 12, 2006

    Day 5: February 12
    On our last day, we explored an area (via kayak) full of small caves (see first photo on left). Then we paddled by Split Apple, an interesting rock formation resembling a giant apple split down the center (see second photo on left). This led us to Apple Tree Bay, a popular beach. We had lunch there and soaked in the warm sun. Moving onward, we finished our trip that afternoon at Stephens Bay Reserve after paddling about 10 miles. After loading up the boats, we drove back to the Sea Kayak Company where we said our farewells.
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    Having completed the five day kayak camping adventure, we felt we had seen New Zealand like few tourists had. This was actually my second time in New Zealand. My first time was on a tour with my parents back in late 2000. That tour was nice but for the most part, I only saw the side of New Zealand that most tourists see: a zoo, some big buildings, some big cities, fancy restaurants, and fancy hotels. We did, however, see the hot springs of Rotorua which was nice. But that first trip only made me want to come back and see the natural side of New Zealand. Not just see it...experience it.

    Nelson, New Zealand
    On February 7, 8, 12-16, we stayed in Nelson, New Zealand. It is a fairly small, clean town with friendly natives and well maintained hanging flower pots. There are plenty of trails for running, walking, and dog walking. Public transportation is centralized at the Suburban Bus Lines depot. There are numerous Thai restaurants and a small rock climbing gym called Vertical Limits.

    City view from Nelson Haven, February 7, 2006

    Anglican Church in Trafalgar Square, February 7, 2006

    February 7 and 8
    We flew into Nelson via Air New Zealand and stayed at the Best Western Chelsea Park Motor Lodge. We explored the town on foot and took in a nice view of the city (see first photo on left). We then walked through Trafalgar Square and saw a historic Anglican Cathedral (see second photo at left). Later, we ate Thai food in the center of town. Interestingly, Nelson had many Thai restaurants. The next morning, we took the bus to Abel Tasman Park.
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    Quail family, February 13, 2006

    Double rainbow, February 14, 2006

    Sunset, February 14, 2006

    Sheep, February 15, 2006

    February 12-16
    After the kayak camping trip, we stayed at the Rutherford Hotel in Trafalgar Square, next to the historic church. We did a good deal of walking around town over the next few days, stopping to take in the view at higher elevations. Susan went on an art and wine tasting tour and visited a furniture making shop. She also did a half day hike in Abel Tasman park. On one of her days, she saw a family of quail (see first photo on left). I spent mornings running along the Maitai River or to the Centre of New Zealand, a scenic overlook. My days were spent at a conference. On Valentine's Day, a banquet was held for the conference attendees where they were entertained with Maori song and dance. We saw a beautiful double rainbow at the banquet (see second photo on left) followed by a spectacular sunset (see third photo on left). On the afternoon of the 15th, we went for a long walk, and saw what New Zealand might best be known for...sheep (see fourth photo on left). Supposedly, the country has more sheep than people. That evening, we ate Japanese food at a teppan restaurant. The menu included sushi and domestic venison...the most tender meat I've ever eaten. We flew home on the 16th.
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    Muir Woods National Park
    On February 17, we drove two hours from Sacramento to Mill Valley to meet my good friend and former work supervisor, Dr. Chuck, at the Muir Woods National Monument Visitors Center Cafe for brunch. He was a little under the weather so Susan and I hiked the six mile Bootjack Trail to Ben Johnson Trail loop alone. It rained the whole time. We walked through a redwood forest named after John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club. These redwood trees are up to 2000 years old, have diameters up to 22 feet, and stand up to 370 feet tall. Though taller than the giant sequoia trees, they are dwarfed by the sequoia's 40 foot diameter and young compared to the elder sequoia, up to 3200 years old. The giant sequoias live in the Sierra Nevada while the redwoods reside on the Pacific coast.

    The trip back was a long four hour drive in Friday holiday traffic. We saw a tandem surf ski in transport. Never found out what kind it was.

    Dr. Chuck, Saki, and Susan at Muir Woods Cafe, February 17, 2006

    Visitors Center Cafe
    Dr. Chuck, me, and Susan munching on a late breakfast and going over the hike route.
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    Susan in giant redwood tree, February 17, 2006

    Giant tree
    Many of the trees were large enough to fit many people inside. Several were hollow inside. It seemed most of those were created by two trees growing next to each other and merging to become one.
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    Muir Woods trail, February 17, 2006

    Muir Woods Trail
    The trails in Muir Woods are fairly well maintained and marked...though nowhere near as nice as those in Abel Tasman Park, New Zealand. Closer to the visitor center, they have fence borders and are sometimes paved.
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    Friends and Family
    On February 16-18, we stayed at my parent's house in Sacramento. On the 16th, we took a visit to Old Sacramento and the train museum.

    After hiking in Muir Woods on the 17th, we returned home and had dinner at a neighborhood Japanese buffet with Mike, my former squad leader from the Gulf War. Back in 1991, I thought Mike was one of the smartest people I'd ever met. Today, I still think that. He spent the evening telling us about "permaculture." For more information about Mike and our little "reunion," click here.

    On the 18th, Susan and I went to breakfast with Mike at Lyon's. Then we spent a few hours at Granite Arch Climbing Center, the largest indoor climbing gym in California. We ate Chinese food back at the house then left for the airport for a long trip home.

    Kay, Marian, Susan, and Saki, February 17, 2006

    Visiting parents, February 17, 2006
    The last time I saw my parents was September 2005. Though it hasn't been long, I missed them very much. The last time I'd been to California was the spring of 2003 when I enjoyed a whitewater rafting trip down the north fork of the American River. It snows in Sacramento about once every 10 years and I just happened to be there during that time.
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    Saki, Susan and Mike, February 18, 2006

    I hadn't seen Mike since 1992. It was great seeing him after all these years. Though he's been busy raising several children, horses, a dog, and a goat, he really hasn't changed much.
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    Saki climbing at Granite Arch, February 18, 2006

    Climbing at Granite Arch
    February 18, 2006 was Mike's first time climbing. Susan loves introducing new climbers to the sport. She really loved having me do my first climb...a rooftop with a chimney! Granite Arch was a huge gym that incorporated lots of natural looking features into the wall. We ended with some challenging bouldering. The photo at left shows me negotiating a challenging 5.11 climb...yeah, right (probably just a 5.6).
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