Some people come to New Zealand to hike the Great Walks. Tramping, as it’s called here, is easy to do with countless trails of varying length and difficulty. We’ve done our share of day hikes and easy walks but when we packed for this trip, we chose not to bring sleeping bags or camping gear. So when we decided to tackle a Great Walk, we figured the easiest one was our best bet.
The full Abel Tasman Coast Track is 54.4km but water taxi and bus drop-off points make it easy to do shorter stretches. We chose to spend three nights on the track, walking a total of 37.7 km. This gave us time to read, play cards, swim, lounge on a beach, or otherwise enjoy part of each day after walking a few hours. We also chose to take the walk north to south, opposite the suggested route but a far more sensible one given the low tide crossing we needed to make on the first afternoon.
We took a water taxi from Marahau to Totaranui, carrying sleeping bags acquired for 13NZD (total for the two!), clothes, sunblock, a camping stove with fuel, dishes, utensils, and food for the time we’d be on the track. The rest of our gear we left locked up in Marahau, all safely collected upon our return. The water taxi skipper was full of interesting information about the area and enjoyed racing the boat across the bay, rendering one or two people aboard a touch seasick.
Our first afternoon took us to the Awaroa Estuary which can only be crossed at low tide. We waited with other hikers and a horde of sandflies for the water to get low enough but in time, our tolerance for sandfly bites gave out and we started across.
Along the way, we stopped to ogle this tolerant seal who sat scratching and preening, nonplussed by our presence.
The views were gorgeous and we had sun nearly the entire time.
We slept in huts run by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation. These basic huts provide sleeping mats, toilets, cold water, and lines for drying wet (sweat-drenched) clothes and towels. The newest hut, at Anchorage Bay, has lights in the cooking area controlled by sensors and powered by solar panels. It also has smaller bunk rooms than the other huts with only eight people to a room instead of 12-16. While we were fortunate to not share a room with the loudest snorer I’ve ever heard, she could be heard three rooms away and actually drove some to drag their mats outside.
In addition to the joy of spending four days in a beautiful area getting ample exercise and not checking email or seeing a car, we made a new friend. Manny was booked into the same huts each night and we fell into an easy camaraderie along the way. He also came to our rescue more than once when we discovered forgotten items and inspired us with his athletic prowess and tales of the North Island.
And we ran into the Belgian couple we met eight times on the South Island. Hopefully we’ll make it back to Israel someday to see Manny and to have a few (more) beers with our Belgian friends!
Our feet were tired at the end of each day but without question, walking the Abel Tasman was a great way to spend a few days.