Our next stop along the road was on the North West coast of the south island at the Abel Tasman National Park. Nearly everyone we chatted to recommended visiting here. It is a coastal park with dramatic mountains meeting the sea. Similar to so many other places in NZ you can do a 3-4 day trek here spanning 50kms or so along various bays, staying in little huts. Some parts of the walk are tidal crossings so rather than walking sea kayaking has become popular too. So when we arrived we really didn’t know what we wanted to do. After the Tongariro crossing, John had mentioned he didn’t want to do another big walk for a while but somehow we did it again and signed up for a water taxi to drop us about 21kms out along the track and we were to walk back to the start……
The town at the start of the track was pretty dead as the low season has just started so the evening before we just made some nice dinner and took a walk along the main beach and had an early night.
The next morning we were up and ready to hop
on our water taxi. There are lots of these services – speed boats that drop off and collect people at various points along the bays of the park. We were taken to the shore sitting on the boat which was pulled by tractor and next thing we know we were in the water. We got a quick tour of Split Apple Rock which was just around the corner from the main beach. It is the third most photographed rock in NZ we are told with Mount Cook and Mitre Peak being the other two. It is pretty cool and does exactly what it says on the tin – a rock that looks like a split apple!
As we were ferried out to our stop, dropping people off along the way I have to say it felt very very far. I was starting to think those who were getting off ahead of us were obviously far saner than us!
We finally got dropped off at Bark Bay, having to hop out getting our feet (and some of my trousers) wet. The water was FREEZING. By the time we had shoes back on, did a toilet stop, it was 11am
and we realised that it could be dark when we get back. Luckily the torch was in the bag. We also noticed that of the five of us who got off at Bark Bay, only us and one other couple were going to trek the whole way back today. Smart, Ciara and John, smart.
So off we set along the track, our 21km journey awaiting us. It was immediately apparent that this walk was going to be different from the crossing – no steep inclines (yay) and lots of different scenery. The coast was to our left the whole way and the views were always spectacular. The track wound through forests, over rivers, past waterfalls, up to the top of hills, down to cross beaches at bays. It was just exhilarating. We met lots of people coming the other way with backpacks and everyone had a friendly hello for each other.
We were only half an hour in and we came to a swing bridge over a river. I had immediate flash backs to Malaysia but the braver Ciara managed fine and the view over the river was lovely. I did have to do an “I’m a Celebrity
Get me Out of Here” pose though cos it’s my first proper swing bridge, ok….
We walked on further to reach a remote village at Torrent Bay. It would be cool to try out living here for a while just to see what it would be like to be cut off from the pressures of the world with views to die for. At the end of this bay is one of the tidal crossings. Our taxi man recommended taking the longer route rather than doing the crossing as it cuts out some nice views and a visit to a pool. So once again I don’t know how but we decided to do the longer one. This added 5km onto our route. If you do the tidal crossing it takes 20mins and is 900m! As we took the longer route it was clear why it is better, the trail is nice, winding along the inlet of the bay and we got to visit “Cleopatra’s Pool” which is a pool of water in the middle of a river and a waterfall. We had a nice lunch there and it was a nice almost halfway break! We also spotted a few people
doing the tidal crossing and it looked like it wasn’t much fun – sinking sand, water and the like!
The second half of the walk seemed longer (it always does it seems) but this shouldn’t let you think that it wasn’t as beautiful. We crossed through many more sea skirting forests, passed mossy waterfalls and hidden rock waterfalls with a new blue sea and sky view meeting us every so often.
By the time we had about 5km left our legs were tired because our pace today was much quicker than the crossing and we had been giving ourselves a good workout so we took it slow on the home run. We arrived back at 5pm so it took us 6 hours with breaks for views, lunch, photos along the way and it was all worth it. A yummy chilli con carne that evening to help us settle. We had a long drive from here to Franz Joseph the next day, a good bit down the west coast, so a good sleep was needed!
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