After our lovely experience at Simon and Carol’s house in Rainbow Valley, Ashley and I we’re still trying to scrounge up some places for our next wwoofing house. But since we we’re already in Golden Bay and since Golden Bay is home to the glorious Abel Tasman National Park, we thought it would be perfectly appropriate for us to embark on a multi-day tramp! (Our first as a married couple and Ashley’s longest ever!)
So we went to the I-site in Takaka (pronounced like ‘tAc-uh-kuh’, not ‘te-kaka’. I hope that makes sense… we still have to think twice before saying it J) and booked our 4 day/3 night hike along the Coastal Track. There were a few different options for hikes, but the Coastal Track sounded the most appealing. As it happens, tramping in Abel Tasman isn’t cheap. To book a site for a tent was $12.5 per person per night, which is better than the $30 or $35 per person per night that the Huts cost* (we passed by the 5 or 6 huts as we were hiking, and they were surprisingly nice, but not worth $35 a night). And since we were booking a one-way trip, we had to purchase bus fare to get us to the trailhead as well.
*Sometimes I forget to keep in mind the exchange rate from NZD to USD (which is currently bout .77NZD to one USD) but it’s actually nice, because we save more money that way J
After booking the trip and grocery shopping (purchasing some much needed items like: a pot, eating utensils, and Tupperware bowls), we spent our last night in sand fly heaven: Rainbow Valley. With an early departure the next morning, we were on the bus driving to the trailhead. We met a nice girl named Claire on the bus, and we ended up hiking with her for the first 4 miles. I can’t remember where she was from, but I’ll let you know later once Ashley gets back from her Yoga class. (She’s from Ireland)
The hike was b-e-a-utiful. It was unlike any multi-day hike I had ever done, traversing amazing beaches and surprisingly high views of the surrounding country. We would do about 8 miles a day (usually a little more because we would take all the scenic routes) and about a mile of that was walking on beaches or tide-sensitive estuaries. The beaches we’re almost always picture-perfect and bathed in golden sun. We went swimming twice (except Ashley didn’t go the first time, despite my articulate beseeching) and the water was quite pleasant. I would say it was probably about slightly-uncomfortable-swimming-pool temperature.
We stayed the first night in Totaranui, which was a huge campground with road access and a huge beach. The part of the campground reserved for Coastal Track hikers had room for a whopping 80 tents, and yet we were the only campers that night! Unfortunately, the sand flies knew we were the only ones staying the night, so they threw a big party right next to our campsite. Right after we had set up camp, we went swimming in the cool water (or more accurately, I went swimming) to wash all the sweat and smell off after a long day’s hike.
I was worried when we first signed up to do the hike, that since it’s one of New Zealand’s most traveled trails it would seem too public and not enough like we were actually backpacking. In some senses, this was true. Water taps and bathrooms were in every campsite, and trails were ridiculously well groomed. But to our fortune, there really weren’t that many people on the track. We mostly ran into people either during a low tide crossing or in big campsites. But other than that, we had a pretty people-free hike J. We did meet some sweet Christian girls though (one from British Columbia and one from Idaho). Apparently about 150,000 people do the hike every year...
The next night we camped in a much smaller site, room only for 20 tents, and it rained on us all night. Fortunately I remembered to put our packs under the rain-fly before going to bed, but UNfortunately the water pooled under the tent and soaked my pack J. Later the next day we were able to dry out a bunch of our gear while we lounged on a subtropical sandbar waiting to cross the beach at low tide. Behind the sandbar we floated out to the ocean down this sweet little channel that was about 3-4 feet deep and had a remarkably fast current.
Other highlights: we missed the bus going back to our car, so we had to do a 2-part hitch hike (first time for both of us) and we met a nice kid and a nice but kinda weird hippie couple.
first cool view
sweet coastline... not many looked like this, most were filled with golden sand
hikin' on the beach!
holes in rocks
our lonely tent :/
long tidal crossing
It's a trap!
bustin' out the old Whisper-liteTM
rainy tidal crossing, waiting for the low tide.