Abel Tasman Track

Golden beaches, costal native bush and mainly fine weather. This was a vacation hike, spending time on the beaches and in the water, taking it easy and testing out some new gear.

Day 0 – Getting There

Monday, March 6, 2023

I really wanted to take the ferry from Wellington to Picton, so made this part of the journey to get to the track. It has probably been 25 to 30 years since I had taken the Cook Strait ferry, and it was about time to do it again. The ferry had been running late the past few days, and I was a little nervous I would miss my bus connection on the other side. Turned out I did not need to worry, sailing just 30 minutes late out of Wellington. And sailing out under beautiful skies. Caroline and mum waved me goodbye from the apartment in Wellington.

It was a smooth sailing and I really got to enjoy the sounds at the top of the South Island. A perfect way to start this vacation tramp. A bus ride got me to Nelson and then a 5km walk got me to the campground. I was able to stop at MacDonalds along the way.

Once I got my new tent setup, I enjoyed a stroll along the beach. Weather for the next 5 days was looking ok, with only a little rain expected.

Sailing out of Wellington
Heading to the South Island
View from the Nelson Campground

Day 1 – To Te Pukatea Bay

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

I connected with my trail shuttle bus at a very reasonable 9am in the morning. Not too later we were all dropped off at the southern end trailhead. The plan was to be picked up by the same bus in five days, at the northern end of the trail.

Turns out there is a nice cafe at the trailhead, so I popped in for a latte and let the other walkers get a head start that way I could enjoy the track on my own. Definitively the first time I have started a tramp with a latte.

The track is very easy. Well maintained with an easy grade. As such it was not too long before I reached the campsite for the night. It was a smaller campground with only about 4 tents for the night. I arrived early, giving me ample time to explore the beach and go for a swim. At sunset, the weather turned to rain. But of course I was tucked up in the tent by this stage.

And this is how the trail starts.
Most walk the trail, but some kayak from bay to bay.
Views over Torrent Bay.
Te Pukatea Camp.

Day 2 – To Onetahuti Bay

WEDNesday, March 8, 2023

No need to rush, so I got up slowly and enjoyed the morning. Or so I thought…

After leaving camp I made my way back to Anchorage Bay, and noticed the 75 tents that were there the previous night had all disappeared. At the time I thought this was a little strange. About 30 minutes later I discovered the reason; there was a tidal crossing to get to the other side of Torrent Bay, and wisely everyone else left to get across before the tide came in. The tide was still out and I thought I had a chance to make it across, but the tide was coming in too fast and I had to abandon my effort midway. Still, I managed to cutout most of the 60 minutes required for the alternative route via the all-tide track. If I had been there 20 minutes earlier, I believe I would have made it.

The day was sunny and kilometers quickly passed. I was working hard on taking my time and enjoying the walk. There were quite a quite few day trippers on the trail going in the opposite direction, but mostly I had the trail to myself. It was not long before I got to the final destination for the day. Setup tent, had a swim and just relaxed. At some time during the evening the Weka’s managed to steal my teabags, so, no tea for me.

Leaving campsite, crossing a nice little stream.
Anchorage Bay. Before the crowds.
Torrent Bay with the tide in.
My tent spot for the night. Not bad.

Day 3 – To Awaroa

THURsday, March 9, 2023

The timing of my walk meant that the tides were low at 7 in the morning and 7 in the evening. Just north of Awaroa, there is a tidal crossing that has no all-tide alternative track. So, the plan was to stay at Awaroa for the night to enable an early start. It turned out, lots of people had the same idea, so the campground was quite full.

The walk from Onetahuti Bay was only a few hours, so there was no need to get an early start. And even with taking my time, I was at Awaroa around lunchtime. The tide was in, so I managed another swim. And Awaroa campground has a (cold) freshwater shower, which was much enjoyed.

In the late afternoon I went in search of the local lodge, which was about 2 kms away. They had beer and pizza, so it was worth the round trip.

Overlooking Awaroa inlet
The beach at Awaroa Campsite, just after high tide.
Beer and Pizza
Looking different with the tide out.

Day 4 – To Mutton Cove

Friday, March 10, 2023

The original plan was to stay at Anapai Bay, but the night before I changed my campsite to Mutton Bay. It is the next bay north, and makes the final day just a little bit shorter. According to the warden at Awaroa, it is a very nice bay with access to Separation Point. This is now the new plan.

The day started with the tidal crossing, and this was accomplished in short order. The crossing is possible upto 2 hours before or after the actual low tide. But I went at 7am, right on low tide. This also meant I had lots of time to get to my campsite for the night. Still working on the relaxing walking.

I stopped at Anapai Bay and enjoyed several hours there of relaxing by swimming, reading and soaking up the sun. Wondered if I should stay here for the night after all. Eventually I decided to move north 45 minutes to Mutton Cove. Which turned out to be just as nice. In the late afternoon I went up to Separation point. It was very windy and there were no seals to be found.

Wind was forecast for the late evening and night, and the forecast was right. I was a little worried about the new tent, but in the end all was good. The tent did struggle with the strong wind gusts. It did much better when I moved it into the shelter of the trees.

Low tide crossing, early in the morning.
Goat Bay. Also a tidal crossing.
Overlooking Totaranui Bay
Separation Point.
Mutton Bay. Before the storm.

Day 5 – The Journey Back

Saturday, March 11, 2023

The main task for the day was to get back to Napier. This involved getting to the northern trail head by 11am to catch the shuttle bus, then a flight to Wellington and another to Napier. I left camp at 8:00am and made it back to Napier around 11pm. So, it was a long day.

Leaving early I made it to Whariwharangi Hut and enjoyed a very nice walk. A nice way to end the trip actually. But at Whariwharangi Hut, it started to rain, and a bunch of us connecting with the shuttle decided to wait here under the shelter instead of at Wainui carpark, where there was no shelter from the rain. The last hour of walking was in the rain, but to be fair, this was the only rain I had on the entire trip which I had to walk in. Once at Wainui, the clouds disappeared and the sun came out, giving us all just enough time to dry off and change before the shuttle arrived.

The drive back to Nelson is actually quite long, but the scenery was wonderful. At Nelson airport I grabbed a shower and waited, and waited for my flights. All the flights in and out of Nelson were delayed. Eventually we took off to Wellington, only for more delays there. Finally caught the last flight out of Wellington for the day to Napier.

So glad I did this trip, it really is a stunning part of New Zealand.

Overlooking Wainui Inlet.
The end of the track.
Post tramp delights.