The Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks and our biggest hiking challenge so far: 65km from Marahau in the south to Whariwharangi in the north.
On Monday we left our car at the entrance of the Abel Tasman National Park to tackle the 65km long Abel Tasman Coast Track. Our backpacks were heavy with all the equipment and approx. 12kg food and drinks for the five day journey. Our first night we stayed quite luxuriously on board of the Aquapackers floating backpackers in Anchorage. What is normally an empty and quiet bay was teeming with boats thanks to the annual regatta of the Nelson yacht club. While scheming with the other people on board on how we could steal the flags of all the other boats during the cover of night, we enjoyed the evening BBQ (although it meant that we would have to continue carrying our full provisions the next day).
Day 2 (13.5km) Anchorage to Bark Bay via Cleopatra pools
The next morning greeted us with grey rain and none of the people on board were particularly looking forward to leave the boat for a day of hiking in the rain.
But since our skipper predicted the rain to continue all day there was no reason to put it off any longer than necessary and after a quick breakfast we put our rain jackets to good use on the way from Anchorage to Bark Bay … where we arrived four hours later in beautiful sunshine. You can’t even trust the weather forecast of a skipper in New Zealand any more!
Bark Bay Hut: pick your bunk bed for the night!
Day 3 (11.4km) Bark Bay to Awaroa
The weather could not have been better for hiking and the coastal views were just mesmerising. The walk led us along the golden beach of Onetahuti Bay and high above turquoise blue coves. The last couple of hundred metres to Awaroa Hut held a surprise for us as we actually had to wade through the incoming tide to reach our destination. The little Weka (who is apparently rather shy and hard to find elsewhere in New Zealand) was quite curious about our stuff and not at all frightened. And guess what we had for dinner? No, not Weka! Pasta with tomato sauce 😉 (just as the night before) By now we also knew most of the other travellers who stayed at Awaroa hut from the night before in Bark Bay and it was a fun evening.
Day 4 (16.6km) Awaroa to Whariwharangi via Totaranui and Gibbs Hill
Day 4 was by far the longest and toughest hike of our great walk and luckily the weather was really nice and our backpacks began to lighten with the food of the last few days gone. Early morning saw us wading through low tide at the Awaroa inlet estuary, which was fully flooded the day before at high tide.
Afterwards the path went up steeply for about an hour on the way to Goat Bay and further on to Totaranui (where exhausted hikers pass through a huge campground with lazy people who got there by car – pah!).
And because it was such a nice day we decided to take the path across Gibbs Hill instead of the easy coastal alternative … let’s just say we were REALLLY glad and REALLLY exhausted when we finally arrived at Whariwharangi Hut, where our fellow hikers and another Weka greeted us. After three days of cold showers even a bath in the Tasman Sea was not that freezing any more – ok who are we kidding? It was still f…. cold 😉
Day 5 (10.9km) Whariwharangi to Totaranui via Separation Point
With the backpacks nearly empty the walk from Whariwharangi back to Totaranui along the coastal track almost felt like a stroll in the park and we had plenty of time for a detour to visit the lighthouse and the seals at Separation Point.
Back in Totaranui there was just enough time left to join the lazy people sunbathing at the beach before our water taxi brought us back to the start of our walk in Marahau.
WOW! What a trip! Exhausted but really happy we joined civilisation and were looking forward to a nice hot bath, a big steak and a beer 🙂