Abel Tasman National Park Trek

The Abel Tasman National Park is located on the Northwest part of the South Island.

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The closest town is Motueka, and a larger nearby city is Nelson. There are a number of ways to explore the park, from day trips to week long excursions. One of the most popular ways of exploring the area is by Kayak.

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You can rent kayaks from a number different companies in the area and go on your own or you can take a guided trip. You can also do the Great Walk trail, which is a 3-4 day hike along the coast and up through the park, camping along the way.

Below is a map of the park and area for reference:

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Although any way you chose to explore the park will likely be amazing, after experiencing the Great Walk and talking to others who kayaked the park, I think the ultimate way to explore the park is by a combination of kayaking and walking (you can arrange for the kayaks to be picked up by the company by water taxi and continue on by foot).

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The day before our trek, we decided to stay in Nelson to gather supplies and get ready for the trip. On the day we started our trek, we drove to Motueka and began the trek at the southern entrance to the park (Marahau). We spent 3 nights in the park: 2 nights camping and 1 night in a hut.

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Unfortunately, we booked our trek a bit late, and ended up having to hike a good portion of the trail on the 2nd day. Our first day’s hike was from the start to Anchorage Bay, which is actually a pretty awesome camp site and fun place to stay.

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We met a number of great people and continued to meet up with one of the couples throughout our journey. This is a very popular campsite among kayakers, as it’s their first stop for their trip. It can get crowded, but we lucked out and had an enjoyable time.

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One piece of important advice: be wary of the sandflies and bring repellant! You will absolutely need it!

The 2nd day was a beast. It was supposed to be 25 kilometers from Anchorage Bay to the Awaroa Hut, but we ended up finding a few shortcuts that saved us. We woke up early to start our long journey and to make it across the low tide crossing so that we could take a few kilometers off of our journey to Bark Bay.

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Once we crossed the estuary to Torrent Bay, we stopped for breakfast. Oh yes, I also found a rope swing to entertain me for a bit.

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We then continued on to Bark Bay, enjoyed the scenery, crossed over some fun suspension bridges.

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Once we arrived at Bark Bay, we refueled with some tea and a snack.

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We ended up at Onetahuti for lunch and enjoyed the views from the massive beach.

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IMG_1249Knowing we had quite a bit of ground to cover, we continued on until we came to a fork where we could chose to go the regular path to the Awaroa Hut or go toward the lodge. Wanting a cold drink and a fresh snack, we headed toward the newly built lodge through the low lying grasslands and ended up at this beautiful, albeit expensive lodge. They actually have backpacker rooms for around $50 a night per person, but we like to stay in more rustic types of accommodation to get the full experience. Also, the route there was a beautiful change in scenery and a pretty fun part of the hike.

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The cold cider and delicious chocolate brownie and salad were an extremely nice treat on such a long day.

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Little did we know, by treating ourselves, we ended up cutting another few kilometers off our trek, and ended up at the next low tide crossing more quickly than expected. This last part of the day was incredibly beautiful and pleasant despite the mounting kilometers we’d walked that day.

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We made it just in time to make it to the Awaroa Hut to settle in for the evening and enjoy the sunset over the estuary.

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Inside the hut, I was thoroughly entertained by encountering this:

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Self explanatory really right? Well, it’s a double entendre because there is actually firewood inside the box…T did not find that near as hilarious as I did…

The next morning was also an early wake up call due to the timing of the tides. The Awaroa Estuary cannot be crossed unless it is 1.5 hours before low tide, low tide, or up to about 2 hours after low tide. So, it’s very important to look at the tides before booking your trek! (check out the incredibly helpful DOC website: http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/nelson-tasman/golden-bay/abel-tasman-coast-track/)

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We hiked along the coast and past some beautiful beaches to the main campground on this side of the park, called Totaranui.

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Our original reservation was to camp at Mutton Cove for the night, however, heavy rains were forecasted for our departure day, and we didn’t think it would be smart to get all of our gear soaking wet.

We decided to set up camp at Totaranui and leave our heavy packs to finish the remaining part of the trail we wanted to see.

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We hiked to Mutton Cove, which is an amazing, secluded, beautiful campsite that I would highly recommend.

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We stopped for lunch at Mutton Cover and then hiked on to Separation Point for a beautiful trail, great views, and the chance to see birds and fur seals.

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This part of the trail, north of Totaranui was definitely our favorite and worth venturing to instead of stopping and taking a water taxi back from Totaranui as most travelers do.

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We made a good call to change the campsite, because the next morning it rained like crazy and made for an interesting exit from Abel Tasman by boat.

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We are so happy we did not have to hike two hours back with all of our gear in that storm! We ended up at Kaiteriteri Beach, which would have been an amazing place to sunbathe and play in the water on a summer day, but the town was mostly vacated because of the weather. We made it back to our B&B, Chalets at Terraced Gardens, to turn on the heater, warm up, dry off, and relax after about 55 kilometers of backpacking! It was an amazing way to end our trek and our stay in this part of the South Island. I highly recommend a stay here if you are visiting the area.

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Not all those who wander are lost…

 

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: New Zealand: North & South Island Itineraries | Fit To Wander

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