It's 4:50am and the alarm goes off; it's time. It's the moment I will be ticking off the first Great Walk off my list, this one being, The Abel Tasman Coastal Track.
Currently residing in Golden Bay as it is, the Abel Tasman national park borders the Golden Bay area and so it's not too far away at all; may as well tick the closest one off first!
Well what can I say about it, if the beaches found in the Abel Tasman weren't so secluded, they would be packed with tourists, without a shadow of a doubt. Here these beaches represent some of the best i've ever seen, teamed up with crystal clear blue waters that just make you want to grab a mask and snorkel and jump in. You'll face challenges along the way in the form of tidal crossings and steep inclines much after. You'll find beaches, some of them being the best you've ever laid your eyes upon yet, you'll be the only person there. You'll be walking along the trail, encompassed by the infamous New Zealand bush, the renowned silver fern brushing passed you as you walk further on. Every so often a break in the bush reveals a view beyond your wildest imagination, bays upon bays of beautiful coastline sprawled out beneath you. Certainly a time and a place to sit back and enjoy.
I guess what i'm trying to say is if you're ever in New Zealand, this is a must do walk. I guess with any of the great walks the logistics of it can be troublesome but that isn't the issue with the Abel Tasman with water taxi's readily on hand. It's important to work out your start+finish points so you can arrange transport. Not only that but also arranging + booking your huts to stay in and book them else you will be fined!
Here's how I did it....
The track length is 55km and you have the choice of starting at whichever end is best for you, either from Marahau or from Wainui. You can get away with walking 52km if you manage to time the tidal crossings right (make sure you time them right!) as i've had a few dramas with in the past! These crossings you'll find at Awaroa, Onatahuiti, Bark Bay and Torrent Bay.
I started the track at the Marahau side, getting there for 6:30 after the drive over from golden bay. I had a big first day ahead and unfortunately for me, time wasn't on my side. As much as I would have liked to stay in several of the huts over a period of a few more nights, I had to cram the whole walk into a weekend and so my first day would be from Marahau to Awaroa which covered a distance of 33km via the low tide crossings.
Eager to get on with the walk, I started off swiftly, only to be consistently distracted by the amazing sunrise I saw developing before my own eyes; the weather was to be on my side for this weekend. I took a few stops to take photos before pressing on. The track is pretty consistently flat apart from a few notable climbs which i'll mention later on, consisting of winding meanders and bends around bluffs immersed in New Zealand forest. I came to my first 'turn-off' at 7km, these being a track down to a certain bay or beach which you can detour and get a closer look at, this one being called "Stillwell Bay." It was still reasonably early and so I had the bay to myself which is always refreshing, and that's what I lo