Hiking In Abel Tasman National Park

When I offered Timon a ride from Greymouth to Motueka, little did I know what I was getting myself into. Motueka is situated at the top of the south island, half an hour away from Abel Tasman national park. Originally, I planned to spent the night there, then do a day hike through the park and head out to Nelson. Timon offered me to join him and his friend Gido for a multi-day excursion into the park and even though I did not have any camping equipment (the few huts available inside the park fill up well in advance), I decided to do it.

Getting Ready

While waiting for Gido to make his way over from Christchurch, Timon and I spent the day figuring out exactly where we will be staying (campsites, huts, and water taxi rides need to be prebooked). I rented a tent, a sleeping bag, and a 'deluxe' pad, all for just $57 for three days. We also picked up a really cool and compact gas burner - a marvel of engineering for its compact size. Food wise, Timon did not feel like paying extra for the powdered food, so instead we loaded up on cans of tuna, bags of pasta, and bottles of sauce and condiments. While it did not seem enough at the store, once we actually started packing, it seemed like a ton and our backpacks were very heavy. I guess it showed that neither of us knew what we were doing as the owner of Hat Trick Lodge we were staying asked us if it was our first time going camping (with a little bit of smirk on his face).

Day (Evening) 1

By the time we met up with Gido, it was already past 6pm so we hauled it to Akerston bay - our stop for the night. We did pretty good, scaling 7.9 kilometers / 4.9 miles in just an hour and a half instead of two and a half that the markers said would take us. It was a small campsite, normally fitting only three tents/six people and we had it all to ourselves with a beautiful sandy beach and awesome views of the sea, and later, the starry skies.

At some point along the route we checked with Gido to make sure he brought a pot with him to cook our pasta. The answer was negative - have I mentioned it was the first time camping for all of us? Fret not, we had a large can of peaches with us for dessert. Instead, those became our first course with the can serving as the pot to cook a serving a pasta at a time. Furthermore, a smashed-flat can that used to contain sweet corn served as a pretty good lid. How is that for ingenuity?

Day 2

After waking up late and going for a very refreshing morning swim, we packed up and covered the remaining ??? kilometers / ??? miles to Anchorage. We spent the afternoon basking in the sun while waiting for low tide to cross Torrent Bay as we did not feel like going around it and adding another few kilometers to our trek. Interestingly, the high tide left a lot of starfish on the beach - I have never seen so many of them, yet alone washed out on the beach.

As it turned out, we could of crossed Torrent Bay earlier as it was already mostly drained with two hours to go before the low tide. After that we hauled another 7.5 kilometers / 4.6 miles, we were at Bark Bay campsite for the second night. As Timon and I went for a swim, we could see the high tide coming in fast. The evening turned out to be pretty could so after finishing our pasta dinner, we quickly jumped into our sleeping bags to stay warm.

Day 3

Waking up just in time to catch the sunrise, we quickly packed up our things as we had about 5 kilometers / 3.1 miles to cover to reach Onetahuti Bay in order to be able to cross it at low tide. Unlike the other areas where low tide route meant saving time, here there was no high tide alternative so we had to make it in time.

We got a somewhat late start (those with the alarm set decided to ignore it) and had a bit of adventure trying to cross a portion of Bark Bay without having to take our shoes off to cross the little streams remaining.

For the next 6 kilometers / 3.7 miles, the hike took us through the forest with barely any views of the coast and lots of steep ups and downs. When we finally reached Onetahuti Bay, it seemed like the hurrying was not necessary as we were there well past the low tide and there was still plenty of beach left to walk on. As we crossed it, I had the joys of the ever present wasps getting into my sandal and biting me in my pinky toe. That hurt, but we pressed on, arriving at the Awaroa lodge with plenty of time to spare before our water taxi ride back so we headed out to the beach for our last lunch together. It was time for me and Gido to head back while Timon waited for low tide to cross Awaroa Inlet and continue pressing up the coast for another day.

As mentioned before, being the first time campers, we brought way too many things with us, some of which we did not even need:

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  • Seven 1.5L bottles of water - one for each one of us would of been enough since we could refill them with drinking water at the huts.
  • Two cans of gas - we did not even finish one of them. To our credit, we were told that they only last a couple hours and we were expecting having to boil our drinking water.
  • Set of plastic spoons and forks - since we had to eat in turns anyways, we would have been fine with just one set of silverware that Gido managed not to forget.
  • Four rolls of toilet paper - there was toilet paper at all campsite and hut toilets.

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Oh well, lesson learned. We made it back alright, had a great time, and even enjoyed some decent weather for a change. I could not have asked for better ending of my south island adventures.

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