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Home > Treks > ATNP > Day 2 > 2.2
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Lagoon under Overcast Skies

Bridge and waterfall at back of estuary
 
 

I WALKED back along the track until reaching the beach. There was now a fifty centimetre swell breaking along the beach – that’s pretty big for here.

I walked along the beach to the mouth of the estuary, which was now quickly filling with the incoming tide. In the short time it had taken me to get from the saddle back to here, the water had filled up to the island. The two boats that had been sitting on the ground were now surrounded by water and the people on board were making obvious preparations to float them out once they are safely off the ground.

Tide coming in at lagoon entrance
Tide coming in at lagoon entrance

With the tide quickly coming in, I waded across the shallow part of the lagoon towards the hut before heading to the place where I crossed the stream yesterday to head towards the waterfall.

I crossed the knee deep water over the main river, the current running very gently upstream. Once on the other side I walked up onto the remaining slither of dry land behind the island. The two boats were still there, but they were well away from where I was heading.

The shallow water was a little cold as I waded up the northern channel towards the waterfall. It was still overcast, so the lighting was a lot better today, showing the area in its true beauty with the numerous tree ferns and small trees almost touching the water, just separated by white granite rocks reflecting in the almost mirror smooth water. I found a location on a small area of the small spongy weed still above the surface of the water.

Turquoise water at back of lagoon
Turquoise water at back of lagoon

The waterfall appeared almost out of nowhere running from two separate locations about a metre apart, one running down a natural channel in the rock, and the other falling freely towards a common meeting point hidden behind the large boulders behind the bridge which crossed over very fittingly.

I looked back. The water had covered the flat between the island and the point separating the two arms of the lagoon and it was starting to flow in my direction.

The north lagoon was absolutely idyllic, with its shades of forest green, turquoise grey water and sandstone to white granite. It was the sort of image I wanted to take with me and landscape back home.

Island from in front of waterfall
Island from in front of waterfall

A gentle breeze began to blow. I looked back towards the island. Much of the water had ruffled by now. Looking back at the waterfall the water was ruffling there as well, so any good shots I had of the area were now taken. It was now time for me to return to the sand bar.

I waded back across the back of the island, and across the main river which was now waist deep and quickly deepening with a moderate current now heading upstream. Once across the main channel, I looked up the main channel which had now mostly flooded almost to the bridge.

Marker at end of flooded tidal crossing
Marker at end of flooded tidal crossing

The lagoon was now full of water. A small orange dot marked the end of the high tide route, as viewed from the hut. It was nailed to a black beech tree sitting on a rock leaning out slightly over the water. Next to the dot was a small unobvious hollow through which hikers can access the track from a few steps up the granite.

A couple of kayakers entered the lagoon, kayaking through the peaceful waters after what would have been a rough ride through the open water. I looked back to the tidal entrance of the lagoon. A young Asian couple were sitting on the rocks on the other side. The water would go up to their necks if they were to cross now, but they didn’t. They sat on the rock hoping the tide would start to go. It was yet to reach its peak.

A pair of oystercatchers foraged the beach on the sandbar. This was their territory as it had been for many generations in the fifteen years I have been coming here.

Yachts anchored in lagoon
Yachts anchored in lagoon

I walked around to the beach. The small boats moored near the campsite were afloat now. One had already left, but the others were obviously staying another day or two. The two boats that had sat in the northern arm overnight were now making their way out of the channel even though the tide was still coming in. The small red boat went first. The catamaran had quite a narrow entrance to negotiate and the sailor had his two children, one at each bow, navigating him out.

The boats bobbed up and down with the waves running in as they came out. Then a kayak came out going over the fairly big waves now. The incoming wind will obviously mean the tide will be coming in at least as high as it had done yesterday.

The beach was almost deserted. Most people seemed to either be hiking or were hiding in their tents or the hut. The beach was very small now anyhow. The waves were breaking loudly on the small beach, though not high enough to threaten the campsite. The waves were big enough to expose the fragments of sea shells and coarse sand on the beach.

Flooded lagoon
Flooded lagoon

Once the tide was fully in, the lagoon settled. Water was almost right up to the steps leading up to the hut.

Then the water began to leave the lagoon. The main channel was a deep turquoise colour translucent with all the fine debris picked up along the bottom of the channel. Seagulls waited along the side of the channel for small fish to swim through.

The boat arrived, dropping off a few people who like me were spending the night here before either sailing or walking out in a day or two.

Tree ferns above lagoon
Tree ferns above lagoon

The tide continued to ebb, exposing some of the higher sand flats. Tiny hillocks dried out first leaving small pools of what had once been footprints of countless travellers around them still wet and unable to quickly drain away with the rest of the water. These pools would gradually soak into the sand.

The Asian couple had long gone, no doubt having gone back up the track to take the high tide route especially with having seen the tide continue to rise.

Small white bubbles of salt were forming orderly patterns showing the speed at which the tide was going out.

The tide begins to go out
The tide begins to go out

The tide had mostly emptied out of the lagoon when exhausted I returned to the tent. Exhausted I went inside.

Minutes later the ranger came around again. I think she was American, with the way she said “nuck nuck”. Anyway I showed her my pass and she went onto the next camp. She was based at the hut, where to the side was a small ranger’s cabin. That would be such a nice job to have out here, just looking after the facilities in such a remote location as this full of travellers.

I fell asleep waking up briefly at sunrise to have another look at the beach to see the tide was well out. Then I went back to bed and slept solidly through the night.

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07 January 2007

 

Abel Tasman Nat Park

New Zealand

 

40°54'53"S
173°03'00"E
Sea Level

 

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