Thursday, January 12, 2012
7 January 2012: Sea kayaking and backpacking in Abel Tasman National Park
Our morning started early (6:45 am) with a chat with the Balmville School 3rd graders, this time lead by psychology major Peter Kelleher. Peter fielded questions about kiwi, the water bodies surrounding New Zealand, the current season New Zealand was in, and the types of animals we’ve seen so far on our trip. The Balmville students were excited to see and hear Peter and see the scenery around the Barn.
Sun and warm temperatures (~70 degrees F) prevailed during our mini-migration to the Anchorage campground in Abel Tasman National Park. Our group received training on how to use/navigate sea kayaks, and then half of our group began a trip that lasted nearly 3 hours. The group backpacking to Anchorage campground began their trip soon after and were very happy to arrive after a grueling 3.5 hr hike (mostly uphill!). As a member of the sea kayak group, I was happy to see a fair amount of wildlife while paddling through the bays lining the Tasman Sea: a species of Skua (a relative of albatross and petrels, and distant relative to gulls) kleptoparasitized (stole) a fish from a White-fronted Tern (Sterna striata), an Australasian Gannet (Morrus serrator) flew past us, Black-backed Gulls (Larus dominicanus) foraged throughout the bays, and seals basked in the morning sun. We were very fortunate to paddling past a small seal colony site and have seals swim beneath (and touch!) our kayaks! We saw several species of Shag (Phalacrocorax spp.; relatives of North American Cormorants) drying their wings on the shores of several islands, but we didn’t see any penguins (although a Pied Shag (P. varius) did give us brief hope!). Once to camp, we picked a great site lined with trees and waited for the backpackers to arrive. Following lunch with the backpackers after they arrived, everyone contributed to erecting tents and getting ‘camp’ setup for the next few days. Many students had never erected a tent prior to this trip, but everyone got involved and hastened the process. We’ve got a great bunch of students and this was just one of the ways in which our group acted as a cohesive unit.
Our group on the eve of kayaking or backpacking to the Anchorage Campground in Abel Tasman National Park.