By Jade Johnston
The Abel Tasman is one of New Zealand’s most walked Great Walk. It attracts over 30.000 trampers and kayakers each year. This is mostly due to its accessibility. Several companies offer water taxi services, making it possible to do day walks along the track or simply tour the many amazing beaches along the way. Transport options from each end of the track are extremely affordable due to the terminating ends being near to urban centres.
There were TONS of people on the track. We could hardly go half an hour without overtaking some other hikers coming from the opposite direction. This seemed to only happen when James and I were having some sort of awkward conversation. The awkward conversations were mostly James’ fault.
The Abel Tasman park is named after the Dutch explorer of the same name who sailed along this coast line in 1642, although he never landed. The park is the smallest of New Zealand’s national parks, but is one of the most visited. The area is famous for its beautiful beaches and bay’s and its sunny weather.
I think the above photos have probably convinced you of the famously beautiful beaches in Abel Tasman, so I don’t need to go on about it. The walk can take anywhere from 3 – 5 days, and James and I decided to do it in four.
The first day was a short day – a four hour walk to the Anchorage campsite. With better planning, we probably should have pushed on to the much smaller torrent bay campsite, which would have allowed us to take the low tide track over torrent bay. Since we stayed at Anchorage we had to take the high tide track which added an hour to our walk the next day.
However, it was good in the end that we stayed in Anchorage the first night with its more developed facilities, because that night we had a massive storm. In the end, we had to abandon the tent and sleep in the shelter due to flooding. The wind was so strong that it ripped our tarp off the tree – despite the fact that James had tied up the tarp and he has even graduated from knot tying university.
James and I at the beach at the Anchorage beach
The second day – we woke on the floor of the shelter. It was still raining. No, it was pouring. We were woken by a large group of German tourists packing up there bags around us, and dropping stuff on our heads. One of them dropped a pair of clean, unworn socks on my head. Free socks for me.
We set off into the rain since we had no idea when it would clear. We had to take the high tide track around torrent bay. By the early afternoon the rain cleared, and after four hours we arrived at Bark bay where we stopped for a break and to dry our clothes and tent.
Bark bay is where most people decide to spend their second evening, but we decided to push on to the Onetahuti camp site. We had to cross another tidal estuary, but by then the tide was low enough for us to go. After that it was a steep (gah!) climb to the bluff, and then a long descent to our campsite. i was pretty tired after a long day. At Onetahuti, we shared the camp site with a school group who stayed there an extra day to avoid the rain. That night, we learned a valuable lesson about possums. A big fat possum tried to steal our food, but luckily James and some of the other people camping there managed to save it.
James being an English gentleman and carrying the bags across the estuary, before he carried me across
The next morning we got to set off late, since we had to cross another major estuary and low tide was in the afternoon. Before we crossed the estuary we came across a high class lodge and restaurant…. in the middle of nowhere. So we stopped for nachos and a beer.
When we got to the crossing we still had to wait another half hour for the tide to go down even more. We saw a group of three on the other side of the crossing, and we were wondering if it was our friend Eva and her friends Max and Thomas since we knew they were doing the walk from the other direction. The group of three started crossing before we did, and we watched them wade through water up to their waists and struggle though the crossing. At one point, the girl got stuck and shouted at one of the boys to come help her. I recognized Eva’s voice, so we went over for a chat.
By the time James and I went through the crossing, it was under our knees. This crossing takes a regular hiker 20 minute to cross. It took James and I probably more than a hour to cross however, due to being distracted by trying to save jellyfish and fighting with the crabs.
On the other side it was a long exhausting walk to Anapai bay. Our third campsite. Anapai bay is past the Totaranui campsite, where most people start or end their journey, and where Eva and company started from. As we passed through, we found their car and left them a little note. Since most people don’t do the last section of the track, we met a lot fewer people.
We only shared the Anapai bay campsite with one other couple, and a few curious weka (a flightless bird endemic to New Zealand). Who attacked our tent poles and stole the other couples tomatoes. They also provided ages of entertainment.
Myself at the lodge
The fourth day was our last day. We had to be in the Wainiu car park at a certain time to catch the shuttle. However, we had no idea what that time was. It wasn’t printed on the ticket. Brilliant. We knew it had a one in it. 11? or 1? We aimed for 11 just in case. That meant we had to wake up very, very early. And it rained in the night. And it rained all morning. We left so early that it was still dark when we started hiking. James had forgotten his head torch in Blenheim which meant we just had the one torch for the both of us. In the rain.
But it was a really good thing we aimed for 11, because that was when the one and only bus was. We got to the car park around 10, and tried to warm up with some hot tea and soup while we waited for the bus.
With dreams of real beds and pizza dancing in our heads.