We walked with determined, weary legs, head-first into the wind. The sand whipped our exposed skin and scratched our eyes. The scenery was picture perfect (if we were brave enough to open our eyes and look). Laden down with bags of towels, togs and beach toys, we trudged along hoping to catch a boat out. ‘Help!’ Charlotte wrote in the sand. ‘I had a bad feeling something like this would happen.’
The boat ride there had been fine, until we cornered Awaroa Head and met the oncoming (and unexpected) wind in Waiharakeke Bay. The calm sea turned instantly choppy and the young driver veered across a wave, his unpracticed eyes missing it and sending the power-boat lurching violently on an angle. Charlotte and Grandma were rocked off their feet. It was frightening and we were glad to see the gang-plank touch down on firm land. We stumbled onto the beach, relieved to be leaving the wild seas and power boat behind. But as we touched down the wind greeted us with a wild cackle and whipped our bare legs with torturous glee. There would be no need for beach toys.
The shelter of the dunes and Awaroa Lodge, in the Abel Tasman, couldn’t come quick enough. I was glad I’d packed the girls trousers and jackets – at least they were protected from the cruel whip of the wind-swept sand on their tender skin.
The lodge was a serene oasis from the billowing wind. We ate lunch and let go of our disappointment over the wind spoiling our paradise beach. The wine, beer and chocolate cake helped!
We’d planned to spend four hours enjoying the scenery of the beach and the inlet, but all hopes were utterly dashed. Dan and I would have stomached it; but it was a mean wind whipping up the sand and not at all pleasant for the children and Dan’s parents. We had hoped to share our memories of kayaking the Abel Tasman and enjoying the scenery of the rich native bush sweeping down to the golden sands in calmer circumstances – but ‘Mother Nature’ wasn’t dealing us a good hand. There was no point in hanging around for four hours, so we decided to try our luck in catching an earlier boat out.
Charlotte and Sophie learned that plans don’t always turn out as expected. Once we were finally onboard the return boat we laughed with hind-sight and talked of our ‘adventure’. Charlotte and Sophie said they’d felt like castaways, stranded on a wild beach; especially when the first return-boat that came into sight veered to the opposite end of the long beach, leaving us with little hope of reaching it before the gang-plank was hoisted back up and the vessel turned seaward again. Thankfully, some good samaritans came to our rescue, noticing us struggling to make head-way against the wind and ran towards us, relieving us of our bags and volunteering to run on to the next boat heading ashore to ask them to wait for us.
Thankfully the return vessel did wait and was ten-times more comfortable than the boat we’d roughed in on. There were two levels, rather than one, and an undercover area, with windows (lacking in the first boat) to shelter us from rogue waves (though Chinese Grandma and Dan got a complete drenching when they went up on top deck to take in the view!).
And it’s amazing the difference a coffee machine can make to a person’s perception! After we’d left the windy conditions in Waiharakeke Bay behind, and turned the corner at Awaroa Head, we breathed a sigh of ease. The Tasman Sea was calm in this section of the stunningly beautiful Abel Tasman National Park. Sea kayakers pedaled past, seals frolicked around the rocks at Tonga Island and people sauntered along the beaches at the bays we visited.
We absolutely loved the return cruise to Kaiteriteri Beach and we arrived with plenty of time to finally make use of our togs, towels and beach toys! Mother Nature wasn’t all cruel and the rough winds and wild boat ride in Waiharakeke Bay ended up making it an unforgettable experience. We certainly experienced both the ‘Yin and the Yang’ of Mother Nature’s hand in the Abel Tasman National Park.
Visit Week 42 of ‘The Gallery‘ at Tara’s wonderful ‘Sticky Fingers’ blog for more ‘Mother Nature’ posts.
Department of Conservation: Abel Tasman