Abel Tasman Coast WalkBy Penny Redward 17th December 2010
Our group of four finally did a long planned Abel Tasman Walk – it is one of DOC’s “Great Walks” and hence well written up online and in many walking books so I will not outline the walk in detail, just the highlights.
Our five days:
1: Marahau to Anchorage
2: Anchorage to Bark Bay via the Torrent high tide track (longer but worth doing)
3: Bark Bay to Awaroa
4: Awaroa to Whariwharangi – via Totaranui and Separation Point
5: Whariwharangi back to Totaranui via Gibbs Hill then a great water taxi ride back to Marahau.
Frances, our amazing organiser, arranged the ferry tickets, an overnight stay on the way, hut passes and water taxies to take our heavy bags of food and clothes to three of the four overnight stops. Even booking in February for November this was a marathon task but we had decided that given an option we were not prepared to tent or eat dried food for four nights. She also checked out the tides (necessary for two of the days) and planned our walking schedule.
Most walkers finish at Totaranui but our extra day was the highlight.
Starting at 6.30am to cross the Awaroa Estuary (after a night of little to no sleep due to an extremely loud snorer) we breakfasted on the beach. We then wandered through virgin forest to Waiharakeke, another perfect golden beach. Continuing, we climbed over a small headland, and serenaded by Bell birds, we made our way to Totaranui for morning tea. Onward via Anapai Bay and Mutton Cove (it was hard to leave these exquisite little bays), we clambered over a rocky headland then had a short beach walk and a stiff climb. This was followed by an equally steep descent to Separation Point Lighthouse – between Tasman and Golden Bay. Seals, incredible rock formations and more views to take in before the last leg to Whariwharangi.
Whariwharangi Hut is a restored farm homestead set in open grassed area just 5 minutes from the beach – quite different from most DOC huts – less crowded and really worth visiting, even if it had meant 10 hours on the track that day – including the swims, sightseeing and long rests supposedly (and in fact) enjoying the views.
Rather than retrace our steps back to Totaranui next morning we took the loop route via Gibbs Hill – probably our longest, hardest climb of all especially in hot weather. A sometimes bike route this is not the prettiest section but again the views – this time of Golden Bay – and the promise of one more swim before the Water Taxi picks us up makes it worthwhile.
Truly this is a beautiful walk. It was crowded and yes there were sandflies, but we finished on an absolute high with memories of wonderful beaches, pristine bush, crystal clear streams and wonderful views. Apart from Whariwharangi the huts were all but full and we met only one other kiwi. If you go in winter it is possible to avoid the crowds but we all felt the mild temperatures and swimming in this amazing setting in clear blue surf outweighed avoiding a few tourists.