May 1st 2015
Abel Tasman National Park is the one of my favourite places in New Zealand. When I started planning my trip back I knew right away that it was a must on the list of things I wanted to share with Kathleen.
The park itself, located on the Northwest tip of the South Island, is the smallest national park in the country, but remains highly popular due to its 60 km Coastal Track – one of New Zealand’s “9 Great Walks.”
Our day started early with the 1 hour drive from our hostel in Nelson to Marahau where we were due to meet the water taxi for a lift up the coast to Bark Bay. From here the plan was to spend one amazing day soaking up all that the park had to offer as we walked the 21 km back out to our car.
The walk itself was spectacular – miles of golden beaches, giant ferns and mossy jungle, dotted with rivers and waterfalls and even a suspension bridge, all framed by the turquoise ocean to our left. We spent the morning waking at a very leisurely pace, constantly pausing to capture every breathtaking vista that was waiting for us around each bend.
Pro tip: When you use up 5 of the 7 hours of daylight that you have walking only 9 (of 21) km you are in fact dawdling and not making the excellent time that you thought you were.
After a few hours we paused to have lunch just outside of Torrent Bay before starting our next adventure: the “easy” low tide crossing to Anchorage Bay. We wasted a lot of time here attempting to cross without taking off our shoes. When we finally gave in the clay bottom of the exposed ocean bed was soft on our feet and we crunched seashells with every step (they crunched in a very satisfying way, kind of like breaking ice patches on the sidewalk in winter).
Shortly after this it became clear that it was time to for second lunch (Hartin’s are a lot like hobbits), so we pulled up on a boulder overlooking the sea. It was at this point in the trip that we became alarming aware of how far behind we were (up until now we’d thought that we’d been making fantastic time). In reality we still had 3 hours to go but only about 2 hours of daylight left – yikes!
The last few kilometers really wore on us. Tired. Thirsty. Blistered. We persevered, keeping our spirits up by performing some Disney duets for the surrounding forest (our Disney renditions are actually pretty great, just saying).
Pro Tip: There’s a filtered water pump at Anchorage Bay. The pump itself is located about 15 minutes off the actual path, which may seem to some hikers like a pointless waste of their rapidly dwindling daylight time, but I can assure you that it’s not! Those fools regretted their decision when their Nalgenes ran dry somewhere around the 15 km mark...
We made it to the entrance of the park just as the sun was setting against the sea, beautifully colouring the tidal pools left in the sand. It was a gorgeous way to say good bye.
If a 21km hike isn’t really your thing there are other water taxi stops closer to park entrance. Sea kayaking is also a fantastic way to explore the park. Or, if you have a bit more time the entire track only takes 3-5 days to complete.
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Want to read more about New Zealand? Check out my post about Oamaru