Wel eft The Palace on a bright sunny morning to head up to Abel Tasman National Park: which had been continually built up to be one of the most beautiful parks in New Zealand. We were excited to be on the road and the drive was fantastic on such a warm day. We stopped a lot along the way and one of the highlights of the day was this little fruits and veggie store that had a bakery, ice cream, and lots of organic food. We bought tons of local vegetables that were on sale and some "real fruit" ice cream and continued on our way.
It had been recommended to us to actually drive to the end of the Abel Tasman walking track and hike back in to the beaches instead of driving to the much closer beginning of the track where it would be more populated. We took the recommendation on good faith and I'd say it was one of our poorer decisions but one we had no way of knowing would actually be a poor decision. We spent our afternoon driving for hours and only stopping for a short period of time in the Golden Bay to have lunch. The sand was literally the color of gold and the water was warm but we decided to not swim as we had been promised better on the track.
We discovered that the final portion of our journey into the park was on gravel road uphill around a mountain with giant potholes. It took absolutely forever to find where we were going and it was 5pm when we finally started our hike. The hike itself was amazing: the forest here is sort of like a cross between a North American forest and a rain forest. But better. Of course because we're in New Zealand. We reached the closest beach, Anapia, at 6pm. It was secluded and beautiful but the waves were crashing and the sand flies were biting and we were exhausted. We had such a short time there as we needed to turn around and drive the two and a half hours back the way we came and then push on down to a campsite on the highway to Westport.
We couldn't have asked for better weather and poorer planning but every vacation has a bad day: when we finally reached a town with a supermarket that night everything but KFC and McDonalds was closed. We chose KFC and just used McDonalds free wifi and bathroom. It was a long, tiring day but the full moon guided us into the night.