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Best Birthday Vacation by Chally Sims I am very fortunate to have traveled to one of the most beautiful places on earth, New Zealand. Most of my time spent was on the South Island with one of my favorite places being Abel Tasman National Park. I visited in the month of September, which is late fall/early spring for New Zealanders. I was thrilled to find that Abel Tasman NP has the highest number of sunshine hours and is a great place to visit year-round. Within Abel Tasman National Park is the Coastal Track. We say trail, they say track. Its length is 52km or about 32 miles long. This track follows the coastline and has several Huts and campsites along the way. The track starts at Marahau, about an Entrance Awaroa Lodge, NZ by Chally Jeff at Awaroa Inlet Crossing, NZ by Chally 14th Annual Blake Croxdale Memorial Shoe Demo and Climbing Rendezvous October 22nd This is our favorite time of the year to get out and climb at the 14th annual Blake Croxdale Memorial Rendezvous. Following in the steep tradition for fall, the event will be held at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch near Jasper, AR. The date is October 22nd and five bucks will cover the cost of the demo, slide show and raffle ticket. Must be present to win. Our vendors will be there for you to try on climbing shoes and ask questions. All you will need is a valid driver’s license and be at least 18 years old or have a parent or guardian present. The demo will start at 10 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. The demo will pick back up after dark with a slide show by Lisa Rands from The North Face, to be held in the barn loft. Don’t forget, we’ll wrap up the evening with our awesome gear raffle. Proceeds from the raffle go to benefit the Blake Croxdale scholarship fund. Tickets are sold throughout the day for a dollar each. Tell your family and friends to come out and support a good cause in remembrance of a good friend and climber. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Rick at the Pack Rat at 479-5216340 or Rick@packrat.biz. 14th M E M O R I A L S H O E D E M O & C L I M B I N G R E N D E Z V O U S trips on the Track are scheduled by the tide and a water taxi was needed for the return route of our hike to Totaranui. The Track is well maintained and easy to follow. We crossed Awaroa Inlet at low tide that morning and by afternoon the tidal rise would render the inlet impassable by foot. The crossing was marked with either large, round or triangle markers that can be seen from a distance. The markers were also used at sections of trail that exited beach crossings further into our hike. Another must do activity in Abel Tasman is Sea Kayaking. Our route took us one way kayaking along the coast with a trip out to the Tonga Island seal colony where we watched seals bask and swim. The water is cold in the Tasman Sea, so swimming for us was not an option. We stopped for lunch in a small bay, kayaked to Oneatahuti beach and hiked back to the Lodge in time for a shower and dinner. If you plan a trip to Abel Tasman, I recommend backpacking the Coastal Track. The terrain is moderate to easy and camping spots will be beautiful. There are no snakes or other predators to be concerned with. Water must be treated for Giardia and Criptosporidium so use a Micro filter or boil your water. If you plan to travel to New Zealand, be sure your hiking/tramping/running gear is spotless. Inspections are done upon arrival at the airport so that invasive species of plant seeds are not introduced to either Island. Check out this web site if you are interested in visiting Abel Tasman National Park. http://www.abeltasmannationalpark.co.nz “Hopara” (Maori language; to go about and explore) hour North of Nelson, New Zealand and heads north to Totaranui. The trail can be hiked point to point or as a loop. While in the Park, I stayed at Awaroa Lodge. Access to the Lodge is by foot, plane, helicopter or water taxi-there is no road access. The hour-long ride in the water taxi offered a scenic coastal view of the Park. The cliffs, blue water, green forests and seals basking in the sun were just an appetizer for my adventure in Abel Tasman. The Lodge was nice, the food was good (not great) and most of the vegetables were grown in their own organic garden. The best thing about the Lodge was the immediate access to the Coastal Track. Day AquaTaxi, NZ by Chally