Friday, March 26, 2010

Torrent Bay Abel Tasman National Park, NZ

I won 7 nights at any holiday home or bach anywhere in New Zealand! Okay, I did tear the perforated entry form out of a baches-to-rent library book, but don't tell a soul!
I chose "Fernbank" at Torrent Bay, in the Abel Tasman National Park, top of the South Island. ($160 a night for folk who don't win compeititions). Torrent Bay has this teeny little village of holdiay homes because it was there before Abel Tasman was declared a national park ... so it stayed. Nearest (basic) shop, something like a five hour hard hike. Or a half-hour (expensive) boat-ride to Kaiteriteri. (departure point). I took my food in with me, all the way from Wellington, and carried out my rubbish . No phone reception but there is a free phone for the Motueka area on jetty. A resident told me she climbed to top of hill above Torrent Bay, at 4 pm every day to contact her family. But I think she could only use Telecom mobile, and maybe only texts???
There are only a couple of holiday homes to rent at Torrrent Bay (Torrent Bay, being roughly in the middle of the Abel Tasman Walking track.) My place was a unit, one of two. Upstairs and downstairs, and takes six or seven people, and no electricity as such (solar roof panels instead). There was a fridge with deep freeze, a proper gas stove (I'm scared of flames so I only used it to boil water for my instant mashed potato). Compost bin. Nice furniture, nice beds. A deck. Proper bathroom, with shower., barbecue, separate toilet. Two sit-on kayaks (I picked a choppy day to go out, capsized twice, and swam back to shore, towing kayak!). No television. No washing machine. Brought in my own radio (good reception), i-pod. A hop, skip from the sea. All water has to be boiled hard for several minutes.
I swam half a dozen times a day. Golden sands. Lots of great walks: Cleopatra's pool (with natural rock slide); Anchorage (beautiful bay. Half hour walk away at low tide, one and a half hours at high tide); Bark Bay (I miscalculated here. Booked a boat to return to Torrent Bay when I could have walked back as well as walking there - it wasn't very long to hike it and the boat fare was expensive).
Maybe fifteen other holiday homes. All having evolved from small family-built baches (a bach is a hastily slapped-together one-roomed holiday home, in kiwi-talk). Nowdays most of these baches, having been handed down the family line have turned into houses. One, even cost seven million!!! The time will come, I am positive, when ordinary people won't be able to afford to come here. So grab the chance while you can.
I didn't have a scrap of rain in the seven days I was at "Fernbank" in February. Temps: 26c-29c. I loved the fact that all these weary trampers trudged through, hot and bothered and I was just lazing on the beach all day (that's how I originally fell in love with Torrent Bay - I trotted through it hot and bothered, too!).
At low tide, you have to tramp out about a kilometre or so for the boat with your luggage. The last few metres, you are maybe, in ankle to knee deep water, so check that you arrive and leave at high tide - unless you want the fun of it! Look at my photo, see the big rock with the tree on it that is roughly in the middle? Well, that's where the lowest of low tides finishes up. You will have to walk to there with your luggage.
There's a wonderful 'swimming hole' at the end of Torrent Bay (the 'channel' where the boats go through to get to the lagoon) that is used at low tide when the normal sea-swimming is, like, a five minute slog away from the beach.
Food I took from Wellington for the week ( went solo): 3 Maggi 'Mash' Instant mashed potato packets (the mix-with-water type), tin of mixed vegies , 3 small tins tuna, 3 small tins chop-chop chicken, small tin deli ham, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, packet of sponge fingers (yum!), half-a-dozen little 'parfait' tub-thingees of sliced peach and/or cinammon apple (these come mixed with a cream sort of stuff that was lovely - but these parfaits are also quite hard to find in supermarkets), couple of big pats of both mango chutney and peanut butter, a block of 'bubble' chocolate (hehehe; I had a 'line' a night, straight from the fridge, wonderful!), 3 pkts of lemon cordial mixture , loaf of sliced bread, a packet of a dozen little bread rolls (the almost-ready type that you 'bake' for ten mins - and I did, before I left home), two hiking meals that I had to abandon they were so revolting, packet of cheese slices, cornflakes, and 3 little packets of long life milk. I don't drink hot drinks.
Do go to Torrent Bay because it's really lovely. Oh, there is a lodge there which looks nice and is owned by Wilsons. It's on the beach. Meals for guests only. I think it's expensive. You can erect a tent behind Torrent Bay but I think you get permission beforehand from DOC and can, maybe only stay overnight. There's a proper camping facility at Bark Bay which is definitely DOC booking.

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