Able Bodied, Able Minded... Abel Tasman: A Great Walk
Not many days pass by in this country where I don’t appreciate my able body... Hours spent out in the sun, in the rain, in the wide open spaces, and amongst the minty forest air. Spectacular, gorgeous in it’s detail, full of surprises, New Zealand is a perfect land to unleash the inner explorer.
Alive with our 2018 pre-Christmas spirit, five of us road-tripped from Queenstown to the north-west coast of the South Island to walk the Great Walk, the Abel Tasman Track. Here’s the highlight reel!
I can’t not make a mention of the road trip north. We were doused in rain for much of the journey but that didn’t dampen much more than my towel and camping chair. Mt Cook was standing strong in the distance, the lupins were flowering like the all-encompassing invasive beauty they are (did you know you can eat the beans from them?), and my two roady-mates, Chris & Deni, are two beautiful souls to share a car-ride with.
When we arrived to the north coast, we spent a rainy afternoon sprinting from shop to cafe in Takaka; a town with a relaxed and care-free vibe that I’d like to see on a sunny day, before spending an evening at Anahata Yoga Retreat in the mountains above Golden Bay. The yoga class here was exactly what our bodies were calling for after three days of driving; slow and purposeful, with a firm and solid space held by the teacher, the vegan pumpkin soup and GF bread that followed warmed the soul, and the kirtan had us all humming for hours afterwards. We were also united with our friends Em & Jayden, ready to start our tramp the following day.
We awoke after a night of heavy rain to a gorgeous panorama of Golden Bay, set ourselves intentions for the four days ahead, and got on the road. Hiccups (getting a car stuck in the mud, doubling back on ourselves to get petrol, forgetting a tent) strengthened our resolve, we enjoyed a final coffee before setting off.
We began the well-traversed track from the north end, beginning at Wainui Bay and strolling south. The track was quiet and spacious, steep to begin with and our packs were heavy with 4 days worth of food and as much water as we could carry. The views were beautiful from the beginning, so we quickly stopped for our lunch break - the never failing avo on (GF) bread. Chris gave his bag of nuts a shake without sealing the top, so that brought a good laugh and an omen that reminded us to be mindful with our food!
We cruised past the beautiful Wahriwharangi DOC hut on route to Separation Point, where we followed the booming sounds of wildlife, only to find it emanating from a speaker, attempting to re-attract a colony of Gannets. We met a few sea lions here, appreciating their laid back attitudes towards life.
One of the features we were loving about the Abel Tasman so far was the combination of forest and beach walking. Taking off our shoes and walking on the sand is always welcome. I almost lost one of my new shoes to the ocean (thanks for saving it Deni!), we sadly saw a dead penguin, and were hilariously shown that the suspected dead sea lion was not in fact dead, when he waved his arm at us, right on cue.
After an awesome afternoon walking, we made it to our first campsite at Anapai Bay. This was a stunning little site among the trees, shared with a few other friendly hikers, and giving us an opportunity for our first swim in the ocean. Wow. We set up camp, greeted Em and Jayden (who were a little behind us after forgetting their tent) with a cheer, and I tucked into my first home-made dehydrated dinner with much anticipation and appreciation.
The five of us stayed up past dark, sharing stories, playing dice and drinking tea, before retiring for the night with the sounds of the ocean in our ears.
Our second day started with a swim, a group Wim Hof breathing session, and a delicious vegan superfood breakfast before setting off on what was to be our longest day of walking. We were aiming for Bark Bay campsite, was aprox 25km south.
After just 100m walk down the beach we needed to cross a small stream of water. Thankfully there was a log placed there for us to cross, Lion King style, only our packs were very top heavy and Em was in the water before we knew it. Nothing much followed but hard laughter, positive vibes from Em, and an outfit change...
After a few hours walking we arrived at the Awaroa crossing, for which we had to wait for low tide. Out came the avo on toast and dice!
After walking around 25km, we were all pretty ready to take our packs off and get in the ocean. We breathed a huge, beautiful sigh of gratitude when we caught our first glimpse of Bark Bay, our campsite for the night.
We set up camp, had a swim and a throw of the frisbee (though I wasn’t moving too quickly with pretty sore feet), saw a few stingrays, lit ourselves a fire on the beach, made dinner, then watched in awe as the almost-full moon rose beside a glowing rainbow. A magic scene I can’t try to put into words.
The evening was spent playing cards by the fire, avoiding the smoke, drinking tea, and breathing in the fresh air.
Our third day started with a non-vocalised understanding between the 5 of us that we’d take it damn easy. We lazed around the beach, enjoyed the first real sun rays in a week, read, made breakfast, meditated and swam. Delicious.
After 25kms on day 2, day 3 felt like a breeze as we strolled around 11km south to Anchorage Campsite. I feel asleep for the afternoon as my homies ventured off to the well-known and well-loved Cleopatra Pools. My nap however, was excellent.
Day 3 ended with a full moon, cards and dinner on the beach, giggles and games, and an early night for all.
Our final day wasn’t too demanding. My four amigos needed to make it to the end of the hike for 1:30pm for their water-taxi back to their cars, and I was readying myself to hitch back to QTN for Christmas. We woke and made ourselves the last of our food, then finished the hike in good spirits.
The cafe at the end of the hike was a welcome sight. A bag of fresh organic plums disappeared quicker than you can say “stone fruit”, our decaf soy lates tasted fantastic, and our hot fresh food nourished every part of us. The guys almost missed their water taxi we were so content in our seats. I caught a few rides and spent the night in Christchurch, where I picked up a relocation car and returned it to Queenstown, just in time for Christmas day with my girl.
Thanks to my amazing friends and fellow adventureneers. Here’s the crew…