Tractors and Peaches

We gathered at the Aquataxi office in Marahau, gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park, with a variety of international travellers. Some were seriously equipped for tramping (middle aged), some day trippers (seniors like us), some campers (often with children) and some backpackers (young) – (Ok – there was a certain amount of age overlap).

A sea tractor

A shoal of tractor-towed boats descended on us. We had to listen carefully for our names and destinations and then leap up to climb the tail boards, find seats and wrestle with life jackets. The tractors wasted no time getting their passengers down to the beach and launched into the waves. The spray fizzed past us as the boats slid from the trailers and the tractors powered back to dry land before they were engulfed by the incoming tide.

Launch from the beach!

The engines roared into life and one by one they sped across the sea towards their different destinations, leaving white wakes behind them. First our boat whizzed off to view Split Apple Rock, and then we turned north along the coast for a 40 minute journey at jolting speed, to the beautiful cove of Anchorage.

Split Apple Rock

There are no public roads into the Abel Tasman National Park. Visitors come here via water or foot. Many people choose to come by water taxi and then walk back to Marahau. People like me, who are not up to a bush walk of several hours, choose instead to do the magnificent saunter of the Pitt Head walk. Once we had splashed ashore it took about an hour to do the circuit at a leisurely pace, with photo opportunities.

A view from the Pitt Head walk

We made our way up along the green forest path, and admired the blue ocean and white yachts at every viewpoint, before returning to the golden beach. The sun was very warm. My arthritic knees were grated bone, but it was all worth it to be able to sit on the soft sand in the shade and watch the blue water with its flotsam and jetsam of boats, swimmers and water boarders.


There are no cafes with Flat Whites in this paradise, so we made do with water and cereal bars for lunch, and caught the Aquataxi back to Marahau in the afternoon.

Even wetter feet to climb back aboard, but nobody cared. The boat was crowded and there was a palava tracking down who’s life jacket was who’s, but we all set off cheerfully and now the tide was in and the tractors were waiting for us on the slips. We roared along Marahau’s shore and swapped the boat for our Toyota Yaris.

After all too brief a visit (decided by our accommodation problems) we zoomed back down Highway 60 to Richmond, and then to Nelson again.

We spent a frazzled time trying to find our next accommodation. We negotiated the steep hillside Todd Bush Road, the wheels grinding and sliding on the gravel bend of the track into the ledge on the hillside optimistically called a car park. There were steep steps down to the house with variable hand rails. We struggled down these steps with luggage, read the note left for us on the door, and let ourselves in. We found ourselves in a guest wing of a homestay lodge, with a room overlooking a wide, open sided deck with stunning views of the hillside and ocean.

Unfortunately for us this was the one accommodation we had picked that had no in-room cooking facilities apart from a kettle, and our hosts were out. We had existed all day on fresh air and a cereal bar, and could not face the scary evening drive down the hillside to forage for food. So we opened our emergency rations: a tin of tuna mashed with a teaspoon and made into sandwiches with our last crusts of breakfast toast bread. For dessert Hubby leaned over precariously from the deck in the clouds to pick ripe peaches from the canopy of a tree.

Peaches on the hillside

Exhausted, we watched the sunset over the water, and waited for the included breakfast.

Tasman Bay from the deck

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