Sunday, 24 September 2017

Great Walk Tramp: Abel Tasman Coastal Track: 9-12th September: Day 3-4

...continuing on the Abel Tasman Great Walk

Days three and four of my Abel Tasman Great Walk had me travelling from Bark Bay to Anchorage, and thence from Anchorage to Marahau.

Anchorage Beach, Abel Tasman National Park


I set off early on the third morning as I knew Anchorage Hut was going to be the busiest of the three huts I stayed in. I wanted to get there early to secure a good spot in the bunk rooms.

 The morning light at Bark Bay Hut was really beautiful and set off the sandy beaches a real treat.


Sunrise at Bark Bay Hut, day three: Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

After a quick breakfast with Katiji and the German lads, I grabbed my gear and set off on the 12.5 km trip to Anchorage Hut.



Altitude profile for the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Day three: Bark Bay Hut to Anchorage:

(12.5 km's, 4-5 hours)


The track between Bark Bay and Anchorage is the hardest of the whole track. Because of the nature of the terrain you have to climb and then descend three 200 metre hills during the day. It is also the section with the greatest concentration of mature native bush which makes for very pleasant walking.

Back on the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk at Bark Bay

Map: Bark Bay to Anchorage, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

There are multiple small creeks or rivers on this section but thankfully all are bridged. You will cross a total of nine major or minor bridges over the day, the largest of which is the Falls River bridge about an hour from Bark Bay Hut.

Abel Tasman Coastal Track: Day three, the first of nine bridges, near Bark Bay camp site
I had one last look at Rollo's Hut as I walked away from Bark Bay. The next time I am here it will be gone as it was due for removal sometime over the following week. Its a nice looking hut, a pity they couldn't use it somewhere along the track.


Rollo's Hut from the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

Sun rising over the sandbar at Bark Bay, Abel Tasman National Park
For the next two days you basically have the ocean off to your left hand side...it makes for some stunning vistas with the deep green of the forest contrasting with the azure of the ocean around here. 


Last view of Bark Bay, Rollo's Hut from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The forest cover in Abel Tasman NP is of two types: original podocarp forest and regenerating forest dominated by Kanuka and Manuka. There used to be a lot of farms and other enterprises along this coast, they tended to cut down all the trees for building materials, fuel or just burnt it to clear the land. If you are walking through Manuka or Kanuka forest it was probably an old farm site at one time. 


Area of regenerating forest, Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

Descending down to Sandfly Bay and Falls River, Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

Punga grove near Falls River Bridge, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Interesting solution to a problem...man made cleft in a big rock, Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

After an hour you reach the Falls River bridge... she is a long one, maybe 100 metres, and 30 metres above the river. It is a bit unnerving how much it moves about as you walk on it. It both bounces and sways at the same time. To be honest it put the willies up me and that's from someone who is used to loose swing bridges and two/three wires.

I bet it scares the be-jesus out of some of the international visitors... 


Falls River Bridge, Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

The Falls River bridge, Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

Falls River from the bridge, Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

Jon at the Falls River Bridge, Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

Falls River bridge from the south end...
Unfortunately right after the Falls River comes the biggest climb of the day, its only to a height of about 160 metres A.S.L but those are some hard metres to claim. It is the closest to your normal NZ tramping track in that it climbs right up a ridge line without the finery of switch back sections. 

Luckily the pain is short lived...

Frenchman Bay (pictured below) is one of the water access only bays and coves along this coast, my question: Who was the Frenchman?


Frenchman Bay from the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk, water access only!

After another half hour you reach Halfway Creek which is actually halfway between Bark Bay and Torrent Bay. If you need to use the high tide track at Torrent Bay, it would really be about 1/3 of the way...but I digress. I stopped here for around 20 minutes for a bit of a rest.

Half Way Creek, between Bark Bay and Torrent Bay

The predominant tree species in the park are Beech but there are also a lot of Totara, Matai and Rimu trees. As you can see below there are actually Rimu groves along the track...the only other place I have seen a whole grove of Rimu is on the West Coast of the South Island. 

They really are a most handsome tree. 

In the regenerating areas there are some awesomely big Manuka and Kanuka trees, some are 30 metres high and 1-2 metres around the trunk. That is huge for a Manuka tree.

A Rimu grove alongside the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

Parasitic plant habitat high in a Rimu Tree, Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

Torrent Bay comes into view after about 2.5 hours, like Awaroa Inlet it has a collection of private houses, mostly empty at this time of year. I happened to arrive just as a water taxi from Kaiteriteri was dropping some trampers off on the beach.

The people off the boat went into one of the Eco lodges at Torrent Bay.


Water taxi delivering passengers to Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Close-up of the water taxi at Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Torrent Bay and the high tide track...

When you get down to Torrent Bay you MUST follow the track markers...all this land is private and the owners get shirty about people tramping on their lawns. If they get irritated enough they might try to stop access through the township.

The track marking if really good, there are either warratahs with the orange sleeve or bigger poles with orange markers on them.There is also a small DOC camp site at the far end of the Torrent Bay settlement, you walk through it on the way to Anchorage.

Start of the track around Torrent Bay

Walking through the private homes at Torrent Bay, abel Tasman National Park

Track markers on the official route through Torrent Bay

Torrent Bay camp site from NZTramper
 
Down at the southern end of the township is the tidal crossing to Anchorage Beach. If you are lucky and the tide is out, it is 30 minutes to the hut from here. If like me your luck is not so good there is a 1.5 hour high tide track to follow. It is a LONNNNGGGGGGGG way from here to Anchorage. It is about 5 km's from the point below to the front door of Anchorage Hut. 

If you tramp with music, this is the place to use it...


The low tide crossing point at Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman NP

At low tide you walk from here to the obvious saddle on the other side of the bay...say about 1 km. The high tide track descends that ridge coming in from the right.


High tide so no easy crossing, Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Track cutting on the high tide track around Torrent Bay

The Falls River Track starts about 500 metres past the Torrent Bay camp-site. I didn't go down it as I knew from a previous conversation that it was about 2-3 hours to get there and back, too far for a side trip. I might come back to Anchorage sometime in the future and just walk up this track.


Start of the Falls River Track, Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

Cliff side track around Torrent Bay, hewn into the rock face...

Torrent Bay, Anchorage is just over that hill...


The bush track at the head of Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track
At the head of Torrent Bay is a short side track to Cleopatra's Pool, its worth the trip as it is only 10 minutes return and it is quite scenic. In summer time this is a popular destination as you can use the smooth rocks as a slide especially when the river is high. 


Side track to Cleopatra's Pool at head of Torrent Bay (actually only 5 minutes...)

Cleopatra's Pool, just off the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk
There is a bridge over Tregida Creek at the end of the bay, it is about one hour from here to Anchorage Hut, unfortunately all up or down hill. 

The bridge over Tregidga Creek, head of torrent Bay

Tregidga Creek, at the head of Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman NP

Beautiful clear water at the head of Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Walk
There is a side track to the interior of the park near the bridge, this is one of four different routes you can use to access the Inland Track. Watch the track around here as it is starting to slide into the bay.

Side track to the Inland Track, Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

...bit rougher heading into the Inland Track!
To get to Anchorage you first climb up a spur leading away from Torrent Bay...


Climbing up the spur leading to Anchorage, nearly at the apex...

Apex of the Torrent Bay high tide track, its all downhill to Anchorage from here...

Anchorage comes into view as you reach the mid point between the Torrent Bay high water track and the ridge leading down to the low tide crossing point.

I meet a trio of Americans near here on their way to film at Cleopatra's Pool. When I told them it was at least a two hour return trip they decided it was too far. They were due to be picked up by the water taxi at 2.30 pm and it was already about 1 pm.

I had a chat to them later at Anchorage Hut, they were making a tourism pod-cast for one of the guided tour companies based in the US.


First view of Anchorage from the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk


From the apex you tramp down another ridge to meet up with the Torrent Bay low tide crossing point! Two extra hours to get to the same place....

The Torrent Bay high tide track heading down to Anchorage, Abel Tasman Coastal Walk



I arrive at Anchorage Bay, Abel Tasman NP

Anchorage Hut and camp site are at the southern end of Anchorage beach. Again, if this was any other country there would be a billion dollar resort plonked on this piece of land...Thanks Perrine
.


Anchorage Beach, the hut is 100 metres in that direction...

Anchorage...one of the nicest beaches in Abel Tasman NP

Beach entrance to Anchorage Hut, Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

In my opinion Anchorage has the nicest beach in the park and also the best place to moor your boat. The hut warden later told us that there were 137 boats, yachts and other assorted craft tied up in the Anchorage on New Years Day 2016.

Captain James Cook visited the Anchorage several times while circumnavigating the coast of New Zealand in the 1770's. I can see why it appealed to him.


The 'Anchorage' from Anchorage Beach, Abel Tasman NP

Arrival at Anchorage Hut

I arrived at Anchorage Hut at around 1.30 pm so that was about 5 hours with two breaks and the side trip to Cleopatra's Pool. Gawd...I hate that high tide track, it just seemed never ending, it was the only point over the whole four days when I thought '...why am I doing this?'

Maori statue near Anchorage Hut
Anchorage is the newest hut on the Abel Tasman Great Walk. It is well sited and was only opened in 2013 by then Minister of Environment Nick Smith. I visited the old Anchorage hut back in the 1990's, it was similar to Bark Bay Hut: Fraemohs design, wood inside, only 26 bunks.


The old Anchorage Hut (1973-2013) , November 2013, photo by Andy C

They had to build a new hut at Anchorage because this is the busiest point on the track; there are 34 bunks and 50 camping spots and over December to January every single one would be taken. Every single day! It is the focus of many of the day trips into the park as well.

Anchorage Hut II (2013), Abel Tasman Coastal Walk
The hut is very, very nice: it has a large well designed communal area, and four eight person bunk-rooms. At first this seems strange but actually it makes a lot of sense...modern trampers and especially international visitors like their privacy. 

Sharing with seven others is a lot better than sharing with 12 to 16 others...

The eight bunk 'cell rooms' at Anchorage Hut

Those are some lush mattresses they have in the bunk rooms, they seem thicker and more comfortable than your more usual green vinyl ones. The bunk rooms are well designed with good ventilation, screens on door and windows and inbuilt cubby's for your pack and gear. 

DOC should build more of those pack cubby's in other huts, they really tidy up the floor space. I like them a lot...practical and also shows you how many spaces are free.

Anchorage Hut: inside one of the bunk rooms

Anchorage Hut: the kitchen area
Note the solar lighting in the ceiling. Both Bark Bay and Anchorage have solar lights and Awaroa is due to get some later this year. This is another awesome idea as it makes it so much easier to use the communal area and safer as there are no candles to burn the hut down.


Anchorage Hut: the communal area...wood burner, lots of tables and seating

A sign in Anchorage Hut
There is a very useful solar powered I-Pad in the communal space with information about the park, Project Janzoon, local history, flora, fauna and safety information. It is also hooked into Topo-map so you can check out the tracks in the area. 

A great idea!

I-Pad set up with Abel Tasman Coastal Walk information, Anchorage Hut

Having some lunch using the picnic tables outside of Anchorage Hut

Anchorage Hut: the bunrooms, deck area and picnic tables
It rained for about 30 minutes soon after I arrived, I had been watching the big black clouds approach from the south for most of the early afternoon. 'Lucky Jon' got to the hut before the rain, the people following me all looked like drowned rats when they arrived. Both Katiji and Helen the English woman arrived just as it started to pour with rain.

I filled the wood box while it rained as the wood shed was fairly well sheltered by some big trees.

Anchorage Hut: early afternoon rain...

The view out that big window in the dinning area is fantastic, it was especially nice in the morning as the sun came up over the ocean.


Anchorage Hut: the stunning view from the window in the communal area

Yep...the mobile charge station at Anchorage Hut!!!
I went down and had a look at the Anchorage camp site, it is colossal. It has two kitchen shelters as well as numerous picnic tables, multiple toilet blocks, water taps...the whole nine yards really. It even had a wood shed bursting at the seams with wood...

I love the Great Walks,  such excess!

Anchorage camp site: the camp kitchen shelter

Anchorage camp site: the camp kitchen shelter

A side walk to Pitt Point

In the mid afternoon myself, Katiji, Helen, and two Australian guys Mark & Steve went for a walk to the lookout at Pitt Head. It is about a 45 minute return trip but is well worth it as you get a awesome view of Te Pukatea Bay and views north along the coast for many kilometres.




 The Pitt Head Track is marked from the hut, go through the camp site and climb up and along the ridge following the obvious trail. Pitt Head Track is circular, we walked out to the head on the northern track and back to Anchorage on the southern track.

View north from the beach in front of Anchorage Hut en route to Pitt Head



Ridge leading to Pitt Head seen from Anchorage beach



On the Pitt Head Track, Abel Tasman NP



View to north from Pitt Head viewing platform, Abel Tasman National Park


At the Pitt Head viewing platform, Abel Tasman NP

 We were bad children and walked out past the observation area to the extreme end of Pitt Head. Don't follow my example boys and girls, there are some big old cliffs there you don't want to fall off...


One of the small coves along the northern side of Pitt Head, Abel Tasman NP



View to the north from end of Pitt Head, Abel Tasman NP

On the way back to Anchorage there is a nice view down onto Te Pukatea Bay, supposedly the most photogenic spot in Abel Tasman National Park.

Heading back to Anchorage on the southern half of Pitt Head Track, Abel Tasman NP


Te Pukatea Bay from Pitt Head track

Ha, ha, ha...when we got back from Pitt Head there was actually a yacht anchored in the Anchorage!

A yacht at anchor in Anchorage Bay...funny much!
We had a goodly crew in the hut that night: 24 including a seven person high school group from Melbourne Australia on their school camp. They were on the Australian version of the Duke of Edinburgh award, the students plan, pay for and execute the trip, the teachers (two of them) are just the safety net.

They were walking all the way from Marahau to Whariwharangi Hut at the northern end of the park. Nice work...pity about the stir fry rice though!


Sign at the entrance to Anchorage camp site
The hut warden came for a chat in the late afternoon.  He was your typical hard case kiwi DOC ranger, not very PC but personable with a store of funny stories.  It would be a hard job being here over the summer, busy and probably a lot of negative interactions with people who haven't paid for their camp-site, are under prepared, lost etc. etc.

Jon with Pitt Head in the background, Abel Tasman Coastal Track


Our little mini group (those who walked out to Pitt Head) had dinner together and played some cards later in the evening. Anchorage is less conducive to this kind of interaction as people tended to stick to their mini group and didnt interact all that much.

People often ask me if I get lonely tramping on my own...not really, there are always people to talk to and interact with. Personally I like to walk alone during the day and interact with people in the huts at night.You meet some interesting folk this way.

Day Four: Anchorage to Marahau:

(13 km's, 4-5 hours)

Up early again on the last morning, the people heading north were up pre-dawn to use the tidal crossing across Torrent Bay. I decided to get up as well and watch the sunrise. I had a breakfast of dehydrated eggs, precooked bacon and wraps with a big mug of tea. Not my usual breakfast fare but I had a long day ahead of me. It was good!

Abel Tasman NP: Anchorage bathed in early morning light

Afterwards I packed my gear up, said goodbye to Mark, Steve, Katiji and Helen (everyone was leaving early, only Steve and Mark left with me) and started on down the track. 

Map: Anchorage to Marahau

The last day was the longest distance at 13 km's but in a lot of ways the easiest to walk, once you get to the top of the first hill it is all downhill for the rest of the day. .



Maori carving at Anchorage camp site

The beaches in the park are especially beautiful in the morning as the rising sun really brings out the colour of the sand. It was dead calm on Tuesday morning, no wind and really nice clear, sunny weather. 

If you look close you can see Mark and Steve the Aussie guys heading for the tidal crossing at Torrent Bay. They were on their way to Wainui, stopping at all of the huts along the way. They were nice guys, I think they might have been life partners though that never came up in discussion the previous night.

Abel Tasman National Park: Anchorage beach on day four of my trip

The Anchorage Access Track from Anchorage Beach

Last look down Anchorage Beach
 The first part of the track to Marahau is a steep climb out from Anchorage. There is no getting past the fact that it is a hard introduction to the beginning of a day. The good point is that it is just about all the climbing you need to do that day. Once you get to the top of the Anchorage Access Track it is more or less all downhill.
 
Map: The Anchorage Access Track

The round mark on the map above is the location of a good observation point, go have a look.  I recommend you take a map of the area as it gets a bit confusing, there are a multitude of tracks and side tracks on the ridge.

 I had to use mine two times to stay on course. 



Start of the climb on the Anchorage Access Track, Anchorage Bay
There is a nice lake in the swampy ground at the beginning of the Anchorage Access Track, there were a lot of sea-birds and waterfowl on it. It would be good as an afternoon walk from the hut, there is a track almost all the way around it. 


Small lake near the Anchorage Access Track, Abel Tasman National Park
Once past the lake it is all up hill for the next 40 minutes, that seems like a long time but in fact it went very quickly. I was a bit surprised by just how easily I gained the top of the ridge. The classic 'mountaineers walk' got a good work-out on this trip. Small steps...almost like you are walking in slow motion. It seems slow but it eats up the distance.

Try to walk this track early in the morning, there is little cover so it would be blazing hot work in the middle of a sunny day.

Heading up the Anchorage Access Track....trudge, trudge, trudge!

On the crest of the ridge is a short track to an observation point, go have a look as there is a nice view of the area north of Anchorage and also a decent view of Adele Island. From here it is only 15 more minutes to the junction of the Anchorage Access Track and the main Abel Tasman Coastal Track.

View north towards Bark Bay from the Anchorage Access Track
Note the outline of the mountains of the Marlborough Sounds in the distance. They stretch far out to sea and are visible for much of the last two days on the track. You cant see the North Island from here as it is actually east of the South Island, i.e. on the other side of those mountains.


Adele Island from the Anchorage Access Track

Junction of the Anchorage Access Track and Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Back on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track
There is another secondary track to the interior of the park near Observation Bay, this is actually the easiest way to Holyoake's Clearing as it gently climbs the ridge for 1.5 hours. If you use the main track near Tinline camp-site it is a steep climb for about 3 hours to Holyoakes. 


Secondary track to the Inland Track, Abel Tasman NP

?????....not much to observe in Observation Creek

On the Abel Tasman Coastal Track above Cyathea Cove

There are some great views of the off shore islands along this coastline, the two main islands are Adele and Fisherman's both in the Astrolabe Roadstead. The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman moored his ship in this area for several days when he explored this coast in the 1640's. 


Adele Island from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track
Had another weka visitor when I stopped for a break above Cyathea Cove for a snack. There are a lot of Weka in the park and not always in the obvious places like around the huts and on the beaches. There is an article in the October 2017 Wilderness Magazine about where to find Weka and one of the places they mention is Abel Tasman NP.

This cheeky bugger came over and gave my boot a bit of a peck.

Warren the Weka comes to check me out on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

You pass a lot of stunning looking beaches along this section of the coast, some are only accessible from the sea. I didn't visit any of them as you have to climb down to them and I still had that six hour drive to Christchurch even after I got to Marahau. 


Stilwell Bay from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track


The beach near Stilwell Bay camp-site

Leeson Stream becomes the track, above Stilwell Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track



Leeson Creek, above Stilwell Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Astrolabe Roadstead and Fisherman Island from above Stilwell Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Below is a photo of one of the thirteen bridges you cross on this section of the track. As a Great Walk all the streams are bridged including those that are only a mere trickle in the summertime. This is one of the larger ones, most are simple 2 metre long board walk sections.

One of the thirteen bridges you cross between Anchorage and Marahau


The only safety rail on the whole Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Active slip on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Appletree Bay from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track
There are still some areas of dense bush along this section even though it was the most heavily modified part of the coastline. They seem to mostly reside in the gullies, probably because it would have been difficult to extract timber from them.


Heavy bush clad gully above Appletree Bay, Abel Tasman NP

Appletree Bay camp site looks very nice as well, it reminds me of the Bark Bay camp-site because it also sits on a sandbar between the ocean and a small lagoon. This is a popular stop off for the kayaks which travel along the coast over the summer.


Appletree Bay from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Simonet Creek feeds into the lagoon behind the Appletree Bay camp site, there is a larger bridge over this stream so it must get a bit of water flowing in it when it rains. 


Simonet Creek on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track


Appletree Bay, Adele Island from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track



Fisherman Island from near Appletree Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track



Dense semi tropical bush between Appletree Bay and Coquille Bay

You have some nice views of the Astrolabe Roadstead as you walk along the coast, this is the calm area between Adele/Fisherman's Islands and the coastline. As I said previously, Abel Tasman anchored here back in the 1640's to take on fresh water, I would imagine from Simonet Creek. The offshore islands would provide good protection from the prevailing currents and wind.

View of the Astrolabe Roadstead, Adele and Fisherman Island's between Appletree Bay and Coquille Bay

Kaiteriteri and Marahau hove into view, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Unnamed side stream above Coquille Bay

First view of Marahau heading south on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track
You get your first views of the Marahau coastline as you approach Coquille Bay. From here you can see as far as Nelson, clearly visible over 50 kilometres away. You are roughly an hour from the end of the track at Marahau...just keep walking, just keep walking!


Coquille Bay from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Coquille Bay and Fisherman Island from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track
The main side track to the interior of the park is near the Tinline camp-site, this is the Abel Tasman Inland Track. The Inland Track is a totally different beast to the Great Walk along the coast: it is steep, rugged with a number of much older and smaller NZFS style huts...real kiwi tramping territory!

 I'm planning to come back in March/April 2018 and walk the Inland Track.

The southern entrance to the Abel Tasman Inland Track near Tinline Camp-site

Abel Tasman Inland Track sign...those are some hard hours (2 km per hour)

Marahau viewed from near Tinline camp-site
I stopped at Tinline camp-site to have a rest and to avail myself of the con-weniences....It looks like a nice camp-site, there would be plenty of room for a city of tents. This is the least developed of the camp-sites along the track: it has water and toilets but no camp cooking shelter. 

Tinline camp site, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Just past the camp site lies Tinline Stream, it is the last major river you cross on the track.  You are 35 minutes from Marahau at this point....

The bridge over Tinline Stream, Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

Only 2.3 km's left of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Marahau Estuary at low tide from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The only extended patch of mud I struck this whole trip was between Tinline and Marahau; there is track work being completed and the underlying clay of this area does not allow the water to drain. I would imagine this work will be finished by the time the Great Walk season starts on the 1st October.

Muddy track within 2 kms of the end of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track



Marahau and the end of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track



DOC track sign, southern entrance to Abel Tasman National Park



DOC track sign, southern entrance to Abel Tasman National Park
Almost at the end of the track: this is the causeway over Marahau Estuary. This is the last kilometre of the Abel Tasman Great Walk. On the Topo-map there is a notation about a low tide crossing here, disregard it...the causeway makes this an all tide track. You can cross the estuary at low tide but I don't know why you would want to...you would just get muddy.

The causeway at the end of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Low tide at Marahau Estuary, end of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Looking towards the Pikikiruna Range from near Marahau estuary, Abel Tasman NP

On the causeway at the end of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track
The last hundred metres, the building on the left is a DOC viewing platform and information kiosk right on the end of the track.The track actually goes through it to the road into Marahau.


End of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track at the Marahau DOC shelter

Official end of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track at Marahau

Well there you go, finished at last....here is Jon in the information kiosk at the end of the track, 52 km's and 4 days after starting out. There are a few interpretive panels and some information about the topography, history, flora & fauna of the park in the un-manned kiosk. There are also toilets and seats so it would be a useful place to wait for transport in inclement weather.


Jon at the DOC shelter at Marahau, end of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Information panels inside the DOC shelter at Marahau

Information board inside the DOC shelter at Marahau, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

DOC shelter at Marahau

All that was left was the one kilometre walk back to my parked car in Marahau. Over summer there is a shuttle that can drop you off in Marahau, Kaiteriteri and Nelson but it doesn't start operating until October. It is quite nice to walk though as it gives you a chance to warm your legs down after the efforts of the previous days. 


The DOC shelter at Marahau, southern entrance to Abel Tasman National Park

The ground I covered...looking back at Abel Tasman NP from near Marahau
 
Below is a photo of the old Marahau camp ground, this used to be a regular summer haunt for a lot of Kiwi families. It was sold to an overseas investment firm who would like to build a billion dollar beach resort and golf course here.  There are big ominous warning signs all along the fence-line warning you to KEEP OUT, this beach is private etc.



The site of the old Marahau camp grounds...

So far the development has been resisted by DOC, the Tasman Regional Council and the locals. The resort would offer no advantage to the local community as all the workers would come from overseas and all profits would go back to China. As you might expect, Nick Smith (National Party,  MP for Nelson) likes it immensely...bastardo!!

Wait...no politics Jon...hold that tongue!


The coastal promenade along the Marahau shoreline
Another 10 minutes saw me back at my car, still safely parked at the Aquataxi parking area. I arrived there at around 12 noon so that was 4.5 hours from Anchorage including two 20 minute breaks. 

I made sure I did some extended stretching before heading off as I have been nearly crippled before by jumping straight in the car at the end of a tramp and driving for a couple of hours. Every time I stopped I spent 5 minutes stretching, it works a treat.

Marahau township, sign for parking area on left



Aquataxi secure parking at Marahau

So I headed off home, stopping at Motueka to get some some lunch, Murchison for fuel and the Lewis Pass car park for a stretch of the legs. There was not a lot of traffic on the roads, I think I must have been between the traffic from the 12 noon arrival of the ferry and the early morning crowds going to Picton.

You know you are in New Zealand when....farmer and dog, Motueka

There was a lot of snow on the Richmond and Victoria Ranges as it had snowed the previous evening. The DOC ranger at Anchorage told us they recently had snow flurries in Motueka, only the second time in 12 years. By comparison, it was 18 degrees in Motueka on the day I passed through...weird, weird weather this year.

Lots of snow on the Richmond Range, from the Nelson-Murchison Highway

I managed to make it back to Christchurch in about 6 hours, which is pretty good travelling since the Kaikoura Earthquake increased the traffic over Lewis Pass.


Access: Water taxi from Kaiteriteri or Marahau, the trip takes up to one hour from Marahau or walk in from the Marahau road end
Track Times:  12.5km's or 3.5-4  hours Bark Bay to Anchorage, 13 km's or 4-5 hours Anchorage to Marahau
Hut Details: Bark Bay Hut: Great Walk, 34 bunks, wood burner, filtered water tank, wood shed, flush toilets; Anchorage Hut: Great Walk, 34 bunks, wood burner, filtered water tank, wood shed, flush toilets
Miscellaneous: On DOC Great Walk booking system, must be booked for overnight visit. Hut warden in residence from 1st October to 30th April each year. Tidal crossing at Torrent Bay or use the longer high tide track.

Final thoughts on the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Awesome track (I already knew it was), if I lived in the Nelson region I would be up here every month walking in the Abel Tasman. The water taxis make getting from spot to spot easy, otherwise the transport problems would preclude any kind of round trip.

August/September is the best time of the year for Kiwis to visit the park. I had nice weather for four days without the stampede of visitors you get in the summertime. Also, I was bitten by only two sand-flies the whole four days and both of those happened at Cleopatra's Pool.


Snow falling on the Victoria Range near Maruia, 12th September 2017


I loved the huts, my hands down favourite was Bark Bay but they were all very nice. I'm a big fan of the old Fraemohs and Lockwood huts, I love all the exposed wood inside them. Anchorage Hut is leaning towards the 'too big to have character' end of the scale, but even it has some great features.

The beaches are beautiful, especially in the northern part of the park as the sand seems to be a darker orange colour there. I would love to come back over summer and do this track again but tenting instead of staying in the huts. I think you would get a different feel to your trip. 

Lewis Pass car park on the afternoon of 12th September 2017

My favourite section of the track was between Awaroa and Bark Bay, this has the least disturbed section of native forest along the coast. I think if I was taking someone into the park I would walk the section Totaranui - Awaroa - Bark Bay with a stay at Awaroa and Bark Bay Hut. North this time, just for a change.

This is so they would have a chance to do the Awaroa Inlet crossing.  Hey, there aren't many places you get to do a tidal crossing on a tramp. 

The worst section: that god-damn Torrent Bay high tide track, I disliked it with intensity. Too long, unnecessary altitude gain,exposed to the sun...but at least it allows for unimpeded access. Really, REALLY try to work the tides and use the low tide access across the bay.


The northern end of the park was deserted: I saw three other people on-track the whole of the first day. By comparison I passed 27 people on the track section between Anchorage and Marahau. People seem to prefer the southern end of the park...admittedly most are overnight or day trampers.



The deep snow around the tarn at the Lewis Pass car park on the way home

I also felt terribly outnumbered by overseas visitors: I meet a grand total of six New Zealanders over four days (that includes the hut warden). That is ludicrous...these Great Walk tracks belong to us, we should be using them!

I will back in the Abel Tasman sometime next year when I tramp the Inland Track, probably in March/April when the tourism flood lessens a bit. I'm planning to start at Totaranui, walk to Wharewharingi Hut, go onto the Inland Track and then walk back to Marahau. That will be a four day trip as well.

Overall the Abel Tasman Coastal Track gets four thumbs up on the Jon-O-meter (if it wasn't for the high tide track it would have got the full five thumbs up).

Absolutely recommended.

Cheers!