New Zealand South: Abel Tasman National Park

NZ: Day 21

Planning the Hike

I had read in the Lonely Planet that the Abel Tasman is considered in the top 10 walks and beaches in the world.
Therefore when we were back in Wellington I did a bit of planning and organised a 2 day trek for the six of us along a section of the Great Coast track of the National Park.
In total we were to cover circa. 38km, taking the Water Taxi up to Totaranui and walking back towards Kaiteriteri spending a night camping in Bark Bay.
In order to camp in the National Park, a camping permit pass is required which needs booked in advance; http://www.doc.govt.nz/
Our permit to camp at Bark Bay Campground cost $32 for the night.
We stocked up on a lot of bread, peanut butter, cereal bars, tins of beans and water for the trek to keep us going for the 2 days- there are water points at some of the beaches, but no manufactured cooking facilities.

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Water Taxi

Packed and ready, we took the 9am Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle Taxi service from Kaiteriteri beach to Totaranui- $46. The ferry ride on its own is worth the money and drifts up the coast, stopping off at attractions such as the famous Split Apple Rock and the seal colonies.

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We reached the furthermost point of the shuttle service, Totaranui at about 11am and were just about the only people on a 1km stretch of pristine beach.
The water was emerald blue and there wasn’t any litter anywhere across any part of the beach. There were no families or screaming children, nor hoards of touristic merchandise being flogged along the coast; It was complete bliss.

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To Awaroa Bay and Onetahuti Beach

Our first stretch of the hike was about 6km. We were guided along the coastal perimeter of the South Island along great stretches of white, sandy beaches and then taken inwards towards a dense marshland.
Doing it in a group definitely added to the experience as we trenched through, music pumping, taking time to stop at all the incredible lookouts.

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6km later and we had reached Awaroa bay where we picnicked at Awaroa lodge and relaxed down by the beach cove.
From here we marched on towards Onetahuti Beach, a 5km stretch that took us inland through a dense forest thicket, revealing some of the most stunning scenery of the walk, before returning us back to the coast and down to the beach.

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Onetahuti Beach to Bark Bay

We spent much of the rest of the day down by Onetahuti Beach, where we were accompanied only by about 10 people, who eventually left via the last Water Taxi back towards Kaiteriteri.
Once we were suitably refreshed, sunbathed and nourished, we pushed on for the final 6km before sundown.

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Camping at Bark Bay

We reached Bark Bay before sunset and unloaded our gear at the lodge. We basically had a bunk bed each and a small veranda that opened out onto the beach- pretty cool!
With the help of our outdoorsy Canadian, Bear Grylls -Jared, we managed to rustle up a fire, cook our bean pots and watch the sun dip beyond the horizon.
We even managed to score a few beers from a couple who were hitchhiking the entire length of New Zealand. This was proper New Zealand- shared that night by only about 15 people, each of whom were rewarded with complete serenity and wilderness for a long, strenuous, but brilliant day!

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It was a good thing that we did manage to get the fire going, not only to give us a warm meal, but once the sun went down it was absolutely freezing.
The night however, was well worth staying out for and the stars were absolutely stunning; Without doubt one of my favourite nights and wilderness experiences in New Zealand and of the trip so far!

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NZ: Day 22

Bark Bay to Anchorage

Once we had stopped marveling at the stars we managed to get a good few hours kip in the huts- although it was one hell of a cold night!
We made breakfast and headed South once again towards Anchorage- the next main cove and some 9km away.
Again the scenery was stunning as we climbed to the top of hills, onto baron moors, trenched across wetlands, through forests and then weaved back out onto the beach.

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Final Push

We lunched at Anchorage and once again made the most of the desolate beaches that you would be hard pushed to find anywhere else in the world.
Begrudgingly we had to leave the Abel Tasman behind, as we navigated our final 10km back to Marahau- the start of the Abel Tasman National Park.

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40km navigated, we had reached a visitors centre and the end of the Abel Tasman walking trails. We still had to get back to Kaiteriteri, for which I hadn’t really planned or had any idea how to.
We decided to split into two smaller groups and walked along the Southbound road with our thumbs out- hoping for my first ever hitchhike.
Cars were few and far between, but after about a half hour we managed to get a ride with an elderly woman who took us to the main junction. The woman was from Austria and recounted how she had hitchhiked across Europe in her teens and had now come to reside in New Zealand. She had been out collecting plums and gave us a handful as we departed ways- sweet!
When she dropped us off at the junction we managed to get another hitch in pretty quick fashion by another woman in a large 7 seater- who even turned around to pick up the rest of our gang, which were stranded behind.

We returned to Kaiteriteri lodge, where our Abel Tasman adventure began and were reunited with a brand new set of people on a new Kiwi bus.
After a long overdue shower we naturally retreated to the bar for our well deserved replenishment’s. We spent the rest of the night here, meeting Will, Ben, Lucy and Bonny- four people who we would spend more or less the next 3 months with!
Very few people who do the Kiwi-E venture into the Abel Tasman, but it’s so worth it. It was a stunning experience.
I seem to be constantly and continuously saying this across each destination across New Zealand- but for effort and pure serenity, seeing places that few others have seen, it really was one hell of a special experience!

Abel Tasman National Park  *****

Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle: $46/ £23:   ****

Bark Bay Camping Lodge Permit: $32/£16

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