» Travelogue New Zealand: Abel Tasman National Park, Totaranui

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Nov 14

Storm and heavy rain in Totaranui

In the morning we drop our plans of driving to the southwest and the south (including Milford Sound) – we don't want to do it in a hurry. Instead, we decide to spend some more time in this area. We like it here. It's not easy leaving our wonderful campsite and Marahau, Park Cafe and Sandy Bay, but we would also like to see the northern part of the Abel Tasman National Park. On the drive, Ralph hoses the campervan while llama and alpaca sceptically keep an eye on him.

The llama are attentive.The llama are attentive. · more Abel Tasman NP pictures more pictures

We have a cappuccino at Park Cafe before moving on to Totaranui. There's no road through the Abel Tasman National Park. Winding across the mountains, SH60 leads to the other end of the park within a 2.5 hours drive. The road is sealed as far as Pohara at Golden Bay where another wide beach and rough rocks are part of the attractive scenery. Then the road turns back into gravel until Totaranui. It starts to rain. After a drive across lowlands the road winds up the mountains and becomes more and more narrow and muddy and slippier (meanwhile the rain is getting quite heavy). On the right is a rock face and on the left I look into a steep abyss lacking any guardrail. It's also stormy now and thick branches lie on the road every so often.

We hope no vehicles will come from the opposite direction and honk the horn before any blind corners (like people did in the Alpujarras in Spain), but for nothing. Exactly what we were worried about happens – and of course it happens right on a corner. The minibus is on the inner lane of the road and just keeps still. Obviously, we are supposed to back out. With our monster van and so close to the steep hillside. When we start again we slip backwards in the mud. I don't even look and Ralph, fortunately a cool driver, tells me afterwards we missed the edge by a hair's width.

Road to TotaranuiRoad to Totaranui · more Abel Tasman NP pictures more pictures

Here we go. A cutting through the rain forest, tree ferns over and over and misty fog. We are glad when it starts downhill again. In Totaranui is a spacious green DOC Campground close to the beach. We've arrived just in time – now the storm and the heavy rain have set in. There are only two other vehicles. A DOC worker, just stopping by, shows me a sheltered place for the van and tells me not to park too close to the huge eucalyptus tree. On the radio we hear news that more southly, in Hanmer Springs, roofs are flying away and Arthurs Pass is partially closed because of the thunderstorm. Obviously it was not a bad idea to cancel our trip South as our way there would have led across precisely this stretch of road.

The common room is closed, so we stay in the campervan. When the rain stops we go for a walk on the beach. We see an Albatross and in the orange coloured sand sits a little crowd of Pied Shags. After the walk we warm some canned chili. When we've finished our meal a girl tells us they are cooking for a larger group and asks if we'd like to join them. How nice this is :-)

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