Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Abel Tasman Track

An easy, coastal walk to finish our three weeks in New Zealand off. That was the original plan, but it made more logistical sense to start with it, the transport connections worked better. So, as an introduction to New Zealand's trails - an easy walk, between one tranquil beach and another.

Five days on the Abel Tasman Track, New Zealand

This is New Zealand's most visited National Park - the Abel Tasman National Park. No wonder either, the beaches are beautiful and there are many access options. One can hike, kayak, or get in or out by car (a couple of points) or water taxi (many points). The terrain is easy, although sometimes if you are prepared for an easy walk any hill seems so much larger and tougher than it normally would. The hiking tracks are more like paths, wide and compacted, gently winding their way over the terrain.

I had researched tide times back in July when planning this walk. There are a number of tidal crossings, some with alternative inland routes, some not. I had planned our campsites based upon this, so imagine my dismay when my travel companion checked the times, revealing I had used the tide charts for the wrong year. Luckily though the tide times for 2009 were better, we didn't have to change our campsite plans at all. I had chosen small camping area with limited tent sites - often less than 20 - on small picturesque beaches. There were huts also available, but weather here is moderate, and golden beaches. There were some campsite with a large number of tent sites available, the biggest also car accessible with 850 sites.

There were so many people on the track I was beginning to suffer from Hi Fatigue. Many people use the water taxi service to explore the park, doing a day hike between the taxi stops. Everyone likes to say hi, who doesn't? It's just one sees so many people on this trail, it becomes a little fatiguing.

At Waiharakeke Bay, our campsite for the third night, we shared a camping area with a group from the US. We met a couple from Utah, Liz and Rick. Rick shared his tuna fish trick with us, I wonder if I ever see that trick again, or was it truly unique? They were hiking in the opposite direction to us, and also combining some kayaking.

Beyond Totaranui, less water taxis service the track, none beyond Mutton Cove. Far fewer people use the trail, which was by this fourth day, a welcome relief. Mutton Cove and Anatakapau Bay were particularly picturesque - short, golden sandy beaches, rocky headlands at the each end. The path between the two beaches is via a short track leading behind the small but high, rocky headland.

At Whariwharangi campsite, beside the hut, we met a couple from Germany, and a couple from Argentina and Slovenia. Sitting together at a park bench making our respective teas, one couple attempted cous cous for the first time, ending up with a soupy mixture. Like many, they lightened their load by removing packaging, including the instructions.

Our fifth and final day was a short one, waiting for the bus to collect us we met Sam, from Hamilton on the North Island. Also from Brisbane, and Fiji. We talked for an hour or so, comparing travel tales and the correct pronunciation of Maori place names, something I had been struggling with.

The above map data does not come from my GPS unit, I accidentally deleted all files from my GPS unit losing this map. This is someone else's file.