17 November 2018

A Tropical Paradise

About an hours drive from Nelson is a little seaside settlement named Marahau. Its golden beaches and blue skies make it feel like a tropical paradise.

The dogs and I loved the beach. There are two beaches, one at the beginning of Marahau (on the right as you reach this popular holiday spot) and the other is past the rocky lined foreshore. The second beach runs towards the National Park. Both beaches are dog friendly.

The tide was out when we arrived and as it came in, the water heated up as it traveled over the sand. It truly felt like a bath.

Oakly couldn't get enough of being in the water, he just swam and swam.
As I was wading about knee depth, I noticed quite a few crabs doing their sideways scuttle across the sand. I didn't particularly want one to walk over my foot so I reassured myself that they'd be more scared of me than the other way around.
But as Murphy's Law had it - that tickle on my foot, did turn out to be a crab! No screaming occurred - hahaha

We had lunch watching the kayakers coming in from a day of paddling around Abel Tasman. One company owner, said he was picking up 60 kayakers in the next half hour! And that was only one of the many companies that we saw collecting them.

A line of tractors were parked along the foreshore with their boat trailers attached, waiting to collect the boats as they came back. It's surprising how far out they go. Imagine what the sea water would do to them!

And then there were the tourists arriving in water taxis after a day walking the Abel Tasman. Marahau thrives with tourists and holiday makers - tourism is now its main focus. Years ago tobacco farming and hops (for beer) were the main source of income for the area.

We parked the bus a few hundred metres further along, and walked along the northern beach, which was also super warm! The photo below was our view when we opened the door of the bus.

Not only was the view spectacular, we had some tunes to back it up. Sitting up on the rocks was a guy strumming his guitar.

I just couldn't get enough of the golden sand, the colourful shells, warm water and awesome views.

Close to 4pm, the water became a hive of activity - a busy time for kayakers and water taxis.

Before we left, I walked along the path that borders the foreshore. Seats are placed at regular intervals providing spots to enjoy the scenery.

I mentioned to Bernie how nice it was to see kids out biking and playing (instead of being indoors in front of a device/screen). One particular boy kept popping up. I first saw him as he was dropped off by the school bus, I noticed him because his Dad was there to meet him and they were obviously pleased to see each other. Ten minutes later I saw him racing around on his bike with his mate (or brother?). Then he appeared again with his buddy playing on the end of the pier. As we were driving out, I spotted him again with his sister - they'd taken a blow up paddling pool down to the beach and were using it as a boat. Fun times! So good to see.

When it was time to leave, we'd barely driven a hundred metres before Boo found herself a cosy spot, snuggled up on the couch. After a busy day exploring, swimming and rolling in the sand she was ready for a serious nap.

If you're thinking of staying in Marahau, there are a couple of campgrounds to choose from. The first you'll come across is the 'Marahau Beach Camp' which is about 100m from the foreshore and is close to the departure point for sea kayaking and water taxi trips.
The second is 'Old Macdonalds Farm Holiday Park,' which is located along the Marahau River, in a farm setting. Dogs are allowed between 1st March to 1st December. 'Old Macdonalds Farm Holiday Park' is close to the start of the Abel Tasman Track.

13 November 2018

Rarangi, You Little Beauty!

Not long ago, we met a fellow NZMCA member while in Westport who mentioned he was from Rarangi. He asked us if we knew where it was. We were embarrassed to admit that we didn’t and even more sheepish when we discovered it was near Blenheim! Less than two hours from home.

Rarangi is a small coastal settlement just north of Blenheim. Maori named Rarangi as the place where the sun rises.

There were lots of parks when we arrived at the DOC campground - we settled under some pine trees with an outlook of wild flowers. I couldn't get out of the bus quick enough when I saw masses of colourful flowers. And of course Bernie was just as quick to put the jug on! And while he happily did that, I took the dogs off to explore.

Close to the bus was a gravel path leading to the beach, with the sound of crashing waves nearby.

The photo below is looking back at the campground from the beach. There are toilets and cold showers. Dogs are allowed at Rarangi providing you get a permit from the local council. Gaining a permit can be done online or by phone. It's free and all that's required is information on your dog/s such as breed, colour, male/female, registration number and age. The camp has many areas of hard gravel suitable for parking and a large area for tents too.

There are two walking tracks nearby, both begin at the northern end of the beach. One leads to Whites Bay and the other is a short track to Monkey Bay. The track to Whites Bay takes about an hour and doesn't allow dogs. So I took the short ten minute walk up over some stone steps to the small, secluded beach known as 'Monkey Bay'.

The Great Wall of Rarangi.
Looking down into Monkey Bay.

Later in the afternoon, Bernie joined me on the beach. He had his binoculars and we looked out over Cooks Strait towards the North Island. I wish I had a zoom lens (maybe Santa will bring me one?!). We could see the wind turbines on the shore of the North Island. If you look closely at the two photos below, you'll be able to faintly see them.

The Rarangi beach environment hosts a number of very rare native insects that are only found in this area. One is a stone moth and the other is a mat daisy jumper. Also Katipo spiders can sometimes be found around the foreshore. I did my best to find them, uplifting logs and searching in amongst the foreshore fauna but I didn't see anything.

Once Bernie was ready for a look around I showed him the walk over to Monkey Bay. We climbed back up the steps (there really weren't very many) and stopped at the top to read the information boards and admire the view. 

Although I was keen for Bernie to see the little cove below we decided not to go any further when we spotted a wedding party below, having photos taken.

At the northern end of beach just beside the steps leading to Monkey Bay, is an ideal spot to watch waves breaking against the rocks.

Another highlight for me were the wild beach flowers. They were about thigh-high and came in a variety of yellows, reds, pinks and whites. I'm so pleased our visit coincided with their flowering.

Later in the evening we walked along the beach again and met a local guy who asked if we were going to see the glow worms that were in hidden caves near the walkway to Monkey Bay. We'd planned to wait until it was dark and then we were going to take our torch along to see them. But sadly, he told us someone had let off fireworks inside the cave, which killed the glow-worms. We never did go and check to see if any had survived.

At dusk, I decided  to walk a little of the track leading to Whites Bay. I knew I'd run out of light so I didn't go far - just far enough to get a photo over Rarangi (can you can see the Rarangi Golf Course on the right of the road?).

With the sunset came a golden glow, bringing an end to an enjoyable day of exploring.

The next morning was Armistice Day, the 11th day of the 11th month. It seemed fitting to take some photos of the sun rising on the anniversary of WW1 ending. The colours seemed symbolic - blood red and reminiscent.

Even the sea reflected the mood.
Not long afterwards we packed the bus and set off. 

Picton was only quarter of an hour away, so we headed there to have breakfast on the foreshore. It was still early morning - calm, warm and peaceful. The perfect spot to enjoy a coffee while watching the morning unfold.

8 November 2018

Whether The Weather

                Whether the Weather (Anonymous)

Whether the weather be fine,
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Or whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!

This post is literally about the weather. Or more to the point, how questionable weather forecasts can be at times.

For two weekends in a row we’ve been mislead by inaccurate forecasts. When we heard unsettled weather was ahead, we opted to stay home. And guess what? Both times, the weather turned out to be anything but unsettled. Both weekends were warm, settled and sunny.

When we woke, we were expecting to hear rain on the roof but surprisingly saw a gorgeous day unfolding. So we packed a lunch and took the bus away on a day trip. 

After several misleading weather reports we agreed not to let any future forecasts stop us from having a few days away. We agreed to ignore the forecast.

Last weekend was our first trial run. Bernie and I had three days off. We planned to leave Friday morning to spend a few days at Rarangi (Marlborough).
As Friday approached it seemed only natural to be curious about the weather ahead. What harm could a little look do? 
So we took a sneaky peek, and it turned out, rain was predicted for Saturday, followed by strong winds on Sunday.
What’s a bit of wind and rain? Whether the weather was sunny, cloudy, windy or raining we were going ...

Oh my goodness, how fickle are/were we? We abandoned our plan, we buckled! I've gotta put my hand up and admit it was mostly my fault we changed our minds, I was soooo keen to explore Rarangi and the surrounding area that I didn't want to rush around, trying to squeeze everything into the one day of (forecasted) fine weather. What if I missed something!

Sooo, we relented and rescheduled for another weekend.

And wouldn’t you know it …. The forecast was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong! There was no rain! Nothing but sunshine, blue skies and a scattering of clouds later in the evening.

The closest we got to unsettled weather was a hint of rain on Saturday at sunset. Storm clouds gathered and we smugly congratulated ourselves on not wasting another weekend staying home. However those clouds were all show - absolutely nothing eventuated.

However not all was lost, we drove along the waterfront with a delicious, chocolate dipped ice-cream, and watched a huge cargo ship being skilfully manoeuvred through the cut.

So, from now on, whatever the forecast predicts, if we decide to go away, we'll stick to the plan and go!