Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Easter 2012 - Abel Tasman

At Easter we had the opportunity to walk the Abel Tasman - this track is one of New Zealand's better known walks and is popular with both tourists and New Zealanders. The track itself is 54.4 kilometers long and follows the coastline between Wainui Bay and Marahau. The Department of Conservation provides 4 huts at various points along the track which must be pre-booked. In addition there are 19 campsites - these must also be pre-booked, at a reasonable price,  through the Department of Conservation. We decided to commence our walk from the northern point of the track at Wainui Bay.

We had a late start to our first day, finally getting underway at 4:45pm. The first part of the track is a climb over a hill about 600 metres high. The good news is that this is the highest climb on the track. The views during the climb were fantastic. This photo is of Wainui Bay at low tide as the sun was starting to go down.

From the top of the hill we descended down to the first campground at Whariwharangi Bay. There seemed to be quite a few people staying in the hut at this campground. We now joined the coastal track and headed along to Mutton Cove where we stopped and had dinner. By now it was pretty dark. From Mutton Cove we headed off to Anapai Bay where we decided to camp for the night. This is not where we had booked for our first night but it was pretty late and we found ourselves a spot in the campground (this is one of the smaller campgrounds on the track - 6 tent sites in amongst the trees).

We awoke the next morning to a glorious day. This brilliant weather continued for the entire walk - at last we got summer! Today we walked through to Onetahuti Bay campsite. On the way we had a leisurely lunch and swim at Goat Bay before reaching Awaroa Inlet where we had to wait for low tide before crossing the estuary. The crossing wasn't too bad, below waist deep, although the beds of shellfish were pretty uncomfortable to walk over.

The Onetahuti Bay campsite was a little larger than Anapai Bay. Again this wasn't the campsite we'd booked but we'd walked enough for one day. There were a bunch of people from a Wellington kayaking club staying the night along with some other campers so the campsite was humming. There was still plenty of room for us and we had a nice little site by some trees just off the beach. The moon that night was a spectacle. Sadly our photos didn't do it justice, although we did get some nice sunrise photos.

Day 3 was spent walking to Anchorage. We had a leisurely lunch break at Torrent Bay where we swam and lazed in the sun while waiting for the tide to start going out. After Torrent Bay there's another decent estuary crossing to do. We timed our arrival pretty well and after a small wait we got started on the crossing. Again the shellfish beds were present which made it a little rough on our feet. The Anchorage campsite was not far from the estuary crossing and it was nice to get there in the daylight and have some time to spend around the campsite and on the beach before the light started to fade.

The night at Anchorage was the worst of the trip. We bagged ourselves a great campsite by one of the few fireplaces in the campground. After a nice dinner we were relaxing by the fire when we were approached by some South Americans who had turned up some time after us. They asked if we could provide them with some hot water. After some discussion we realised the group were not well-prepared for a night of camping - no stove or cooking equipment. As it turned out we also found out later that they also didn't have decent sleeping bags. We found that out at some ungodly hour of the morning when they descended on the fireplace by our tent and spent some time crashing around trying to get the fire going to keep warm. After yelling at them they retreated back to their tents but turned up again around 5am. We were less than impressed at having our sleep so disturbed - luckily for them they packed up their tents and left the campground soon after.

Today our goal was to complete the Abel Tasman walk at Marahau. We had another bright sunny day so the views along the way were beautiful.

We stopped for a lunch break and a swim at Tinline Bay before walking to the end of the track and the car.

The walk was a real pleasure to do and was not physically difficult. There are loads of little hills to climb and descend along the way but nothing extreme. You definitely need to be clear on the tide times to be able to cross the estuaries. We did the walk over Easter so there were a lot of people on the track and at the campsites but we had no problems finding a spot for us. Your campsites (or huts) need to be booked prior to commencing the walk. We had booked all our campsites but never stayed at any of the ones we had booked at. This didn't seem to be a problem but could be a hassle over busier times such as Christmas, etc. If you don't want to walk the whole track it is possible to pre-arrange water-taxis.

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