Our first full day here dawned bright and sunny and since we had booked a sailing adventure today in the Tasman Bay, we were excited to get going. Just a short drive down the road, our sail would take us along the coast of Abel Tasman Park. There is a hiking trail of about 50 miles along the coast that would be a fine walk, with several huts along the way and you can even take a water taxi to part of the trail if you only want to hike it by sections.
As we waited for Captain Mike to fetch the boat off its mooring and bring it into the beach, we saw two young ladies waiting as well. We learned that they would be sailing with us as well. Only 4 people on the boat-whoo hoo! Jasmine and Everly were from Southern England, 19, and traveling together for 2 ½ months. They had already been to Dubai and are spending 14 days here in New Zealand with a few weeks left to go before they head out to meet a friend in Kuala Lumpur. From there they hit a few more spots, then home. Brave girls indeed!
Once Matt had the speedy catamaran tied up to the beach, we all hopped on, and off we went into Tasman Bay. We headed up the coast and our first stop was at the split apple rock. It is made of granite and it does look like a big ball that someone cleaved in half. We took our pics and moved on.
We were lucky that the tide was low during our sail as many beaches were revealed to us that we would not see at high tide. There were so many small beaches that looked so pristine and perfect, all the footprints washed away with each tide. We traveled around one side of a small island that had a few kayakers pulling up on the beach and there were so many birds squawking! We could not see any of them but they were there and they let us know it. This is the first time we have heard this many birds and it was what we had expected to hear in the Bay of Islands. On another island was a place where the seals hang out. Saw a few laying on the rocks and then one baby seal was playing with us like a dolphin! He would dive under the boat, turn around and come back up and look at us. He did this several times as we drifted by. So cute!
We stopped for lunch at one of the Abel Tasman coves where one of the huts that are along the trail is located. There was a beautiful beach with super soft sinking sand, potties, picnic tables, and even a rack for kayaks for those who paddle to this location. We even found a spot where there was an ax available for anyone to chop wood for a fire. We are NOT in the U.S. fer sure!
It was a beautiful bay and a few other boats were anchored there and we found out that this bay and one other cove are the only two places where boats can seek shelter in a storm. I think it is also a great place when the weather is calm.
As we headed back out the wind had picked up and we were having a great sail. The boat was a 25’ catamaran that was used for racing and can get up to 20 knots. That is fast! We were only doing about 10 knots but it felt much faster and it was a very warm autumn day. Matt saw how much we enjoyed these little coves so he swung by a small one where occasionally the seals hang out. We found 6 baby seals! We decided that a stay here to check them out would be a good idea, so we dropped anchor at the beach.
The baby seals were so friendly. We slowly approached them while in the water and they seemed curious. Matt and Everly had go pros on a stick that go under water and the seals came by and right up to their cameras. First time I ever wished I had one of those! There were so playful, dancing around, flapping their flippers coming up to look at us when all of a sudden they all scramble out of the water. Shawn said there was a huge stingray that just passed by us and now we know the seals don’t like them either. Luckily, he did not stay around very long.
The girls decided they wanted to swim after seeing Shawn jump in and they approached the seals while swimming. They were able to go right up to them again only this time the seals let them touch them! OMG. So cool-swimming with the seals. Shawn joined them and since the tide was coming in, Matt and I, being in street clothes, hung back. I took a gazillion more pics and Everly assured us she would email us a copy of the video she took. The tide was really coming in fast and the beach was shrinking, so time to go. We all decided that this was the best day, sailing and swimming with the seals, with beautiful weather and great company. Gotta love NZ!