Friday-Sick, no running, 50K Bike
Saturday-Sick, no running, 60k Bike
Sunday- 7.5 miles around camp and roads.
Monday-10 Miles easy in the rain along the ocean and estuaries.
Tuesday-5 miles, felt pretty poor with my cold. 60K bike with 790 meter climb… tough.
Wednesday- Long run, 28 miles, 3,000+ feet climbing. After a rushed and haphazardly put together plan for a very logistically involved long run, I was up at 7am to conquer Abel Tasman National Park. While NZ’s smallest national park, Abel Tasman has a very nice trail running about 25k along the coast from Totranui to Mohanu. This trail, the coastal trail, highlights the very best of the park, which is its gorgeous white beaches, aqua marine bays, small islands and steep cliff shorelines.
My run started with a hitch from Takaka, 20k, from Totranui. The hitch was actually two hitches and ended 4k short of Totranui as there just isn’t much traffic at all on these roads. The last 10k to Totranui is very rough, with tons of windy sections, steep narrow roads, washed out single lane travel and a fair bit of near off road driving and even one section where the road goes through a rock arch. I ran the 4k down to the trail head at Totranui, which isn’t a town, rather a Department of Conservation camp ground.
On the very well maintained trail, I was thoroughly distracted by the massive cliffs down to the beautifully colored ocean and beach. There of course was more climbing than I expected on this run, but that is always a great thing. What makes this trail and national park unique, is that a fair majority of visitors use boat taxis to access the beaches, trail, huts and lodges. I saw a lot of people on the trails close to the beaches where the water taxis loaded and unloaded. Another unique thing about this run and park, is that you need to time your travel through a number of sections based off when low tide occurs. A few days earlier I wanted to do this long run from the south, but the tides wouldn’t allow me to cross a bay. On today’s run, I arrived at the Awora bay right when I was told it would be safe to cross. I ran out a few hundred meters to find there was still plenty of water to cross. I began to walk in the water at shin, then waste depth for probably 1k. The water wasn’t that cold and I didn’t mind this unique feature to my long run. On the opposite side of the bay was a hut where a dozen backpackers waited to cross the bay. As I approached to fill my hand water bottle and add some Vitargo, I was greeted with applause, something that never really happens on my run either.
Running up the sides of sea cliffs, down and across beaches I traveled for a few hours. Being as unprepared as possible, I had no map or real understanding of how far I had left to run and I started to get nervous as I had booked a water taxi at the end of the trail… the last water taxi of the day. I picked up the pace and kept hoping I would make the finish in time. About 12k from the end of the run I saw a sign giving the distance to the end. I had been running around 9ish pace with beach running, the climbs, pictures, etc… and my math put me to the end of the trail with about 5 or so minutes to spare. Obviously I was a bit stressed and picked up the pace for the last 12k. If I were to miss my taxi I would have an 80+K hitch hike that would not be that easy and I had nothing with me to eat, not to mention I would blow the $45 I spent on the taxi and seriously miss out on a cool ride back. I kept things fast and arrived at the end of the trail with 9 minutes to spare, so 3:37 for the official track. Only problem now after arriving at the end of the trail was that I didn’t see where the boat was. I looped around the parking lot and café with no luck then asked an employee where the taxi picks up to find out the pick up was “around” 800 meters down the road. I had 5 minutes and somewhere around 800 meters to go. I sprinted down the road and found no boat, ran into what appeared to be the water taxi building with 1 minute to spare and the lady took my name, radioed to the boat and said I was on my way. I was told I didn’t have time to get water, so I had to buy a $4.50 liter of water and run around the building where the boat was being loaded and was attached to a tractor, yes tractor. I jumped on the boat and the tractor took off to the water and we were off for the nearly 2 hour multi stop “run review” boat ride back to the last stop on the route, Totranui. I found a ride shortly after running up the road and was back to camp at around 4:30pm. This was a one of a kind long run I will never ever forget.
Friday-Woke up feeling good and even better during my run… something I haven’t had happen for a couple weeks now with my cold. I ran up to a lighthouse sort of device called a pillar where I could see the amazing coast and the Farewell Spit. I ran over to “the old man”, which is a large rock cliff with some resemblance to an old guy and then I continued down to the spit and ran on the beach for half an hour. The spit was honestly pretty boring and the sand wasn’t always as firm as I hoped. I returned and went back to the pillar and then on down the brilliant coastline. I ended up off trail, jumping fences and I had to wade a creek before I was back to the camp after 15 miles with 2k of climbing. Finally feeling better is a serious relief.
Saturday- Another stunning run along the coast, 10k with 2,000 feet of climbing
Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier-
On the west coast of the south island there are two huge glaciers that flow down nearly to the ocean. Fox glacier, Franz Josef glacier and the small towns which have the same names as the glaciers proved to be beautiful and well worth a visit. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, but besides the glaciers huge size and stunning path down the mountains, the glaciers were particularly interesting as they end so close to sea level and into a jungle like rain forest. Glaciers I’ve seen in places like Canada, MT, the pacific north west, the Alps of Europe and South America, start and finish in relatively high alpine environments or at least mountainous forests, not hot jungles. Another surprising difference for these glaciers and the others we saw on the other side of the southern alps, is the complete lack of signs, rangers, tour guides and displays going on and on about how quickly the glacier is melting, how far they have receded and where they used to be. Yes, NZ glaciers are melting and melting at a faster rate than they have historically, but it was kind of refreshing to not have this be the overwhelming theme of our visit to the glacier. We found we were able to enjoy Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers as what we saw… today, right now.
The West Coast Shoreline-
North of Hokitika to Westport the coast is stunning. Both Maggie and I are more “mountain people” than beach bums, but this section of shoreline is stunning and beautiful. We really enjoyed the winding coast with breathtaking views of the ocean as we biked along. The coast is full of dramatic cliffs that butt up to the ocean along with small rocky islands, arches and caves. We were officially introduced to NZ’s palm tree, as we didn’t realize they existed during this stretch of bike touring. The forests, plants and unique rock formations that butt up to the ocean over this stretch of the island is great.