Abel Tasman and Hangliding!
25.01.2014 - 26.01.2014
Nursing some sore heads we somehow managed to get up early to grab the shuttle to the ferry that would be taking us to the South Island. This passing had been rumoured to be somewhat treacherous at times so we were hoping that we wouldn't have to deal with any sea sickness as well! Having checked in and waited around for a while we all got on board and I had to laugh a little because the quality of these ferries was so much better than the ones we had taken in Indonesia. It almost didn't feel right to have this luxury with comfy seats and couches, big screen tv's showing Ironman 3 etc.
The seas were not at all choppy and we had a gorgeous day to cruise along towards the South Island. A couple of policemen we had met whilst enjoying the hot tub in Tongario had said that you must be awake for the approach the South Island as the inlet you take towards the harbour town of Picton is beautiful. And they weren't wrong, as we got closer and closer it got better and better.
Once in Picton we got on a new bus and got settled in to the long drive to Abel Tasman National Park which is the oldest National park in New Zealand. Despite the prospect of being on the coach for a large amount of time we were excited that we would get to do one of the activities we had planned to do here Hangliding!
For once the weather was on our side and we would be able to do it that afternoon! We got dropped off at a small airstrip and met Trevor our pilot, there was 7 of us wanting to take flight so we had a really quick intro as the sun was already beginning to lower. I went second and Sarah would be forth so fortunately for me she could take some shots of me getting ready.
It's funny as you get strapped into a pouch and then suspend yourself horizontally above the pilot in tandem. A lot of hangliding involves running off a mountain to get airborn but here we would be pulled along by a small motor plane to get us up in the air!
The take off was so cool, being zipped along and ascending to 2500ft and then the cord is cut and you a drifting, or as Buzz Lightyear would say 'falling with style'.
Needless to say, it was epic! I was really lucky that the weather was perfect and so the Richmond Ranges were in full sight as well as the Abel Tasmen National Park where we would be heading later.
Trevor was a good pilot and did a few dips and turns which made the experience even more fun. I was belting out R Kelly's 'I believe I can fly' and extending my arms out like a bird! Like I said, EPIC!
The descent was really fun as well and as we got closer to the landing site I could see Sarah below taking photos!. With a breezy land I got my final photo and ran back elated.
Sadly, after other Dan had gone up the pilot of the motor plane hit a bird on the propeller damaging it which meant Sarah's and the others flights were called off! Obviously after all the issues we had with missing stuff it wasn't the best thing to happen. Sarah was all geared up and ready to go and had mustered up the strength to take the hangliding considering she was suffering from a nasty cold and so obviously was disappointed.
The plan was to get the propeller fixed and everyone who could come back in the morning before we left. So we were shuttled back to the accommodation outside the Abel Tasmen National Park and relaxed for the evening.
What followed the next day really felt like the unlucky streak was taking over as the whole day was a wash out.
The rainfall was constant and relentless for the best part of the day. We had been told that bad weather was possible, but still hoped we could do some of the walks in the parks. This wasn't the case and everyone had to sit it out either in their rooms or in the movie room (some people watched the whole Lord of the Rings Trilogy extended version, all 12 hours of it!).
We did get some sunshine towards the end of the day and Sally, Irene, Sarah and I went for a walk.
We stopped off at the local artist/hippy outdoor exhibition/shop which had some amazing wood carvings and a random guy was playing the piano as we walked around enjoying the artistry.
We ventured out on the coastal walk to check out the beach and got a few snaps, so we felt like we had least made a decent attempt to see the park.
I caught up with a few of people on the bus in the evening but Sarah's cold had got worst and she had to just rest. It wasn't the best couple of days to be honest, something had to change and we hoped that the rugged western coast with mountains and glaciers would bring us back on track!
Stay tuned for more tales.