Posted late due to lack of internet
Starting Point: Kaiteriteri
Ending Point: Kaiteriteri
Kilometers traveled: Hiked 11.7 km
Today we spent the day hiking in Abel Tasman National Park.It has been a park since 1942 and is named for a Dutch explorer, who sailed to this area of the world in 1642 and was the first European to see this land when he sailed into Golden bay in 1642. He was quickly driven away by a fierce group of Maori war canoes and never actually set foot on land. He’s credited with naming New Zealand after the town where his wife was from.
Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand’s smallest national park at only 22,500 hectares. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in so many other ways. Spectacular golden sand beaches, crystal blue and green waters, really cool rock formations, and fantastic tracks through the bush, which goes right up to the shoreline. You can actually walk the entire Abel Tasman Coastal Walkway in 4 days. But we weren’t equipped to backpack and we also don’t have time, so we opted to just spend the day there, playing on the track and the beaches.
The best way to reach Abel Tasman National Park is by sea. So we hired a sea taxi to take us. The boat picked us up on the beach in Kaiteriteri and then gave us a coastal tour all the way up the coast of the park to the northernmost bay, Totaranui. Along the way we stopped off to view the sights along the coast. We saw Split Apple Rock, the famous and most iconic feature that everyone thinks of when you say Abel Tasman National Park. Oddly enough, the rock is not actually in the national park. But it is beautiful!
We stopped off at a seal colony in the Tonga Marine Reserve to see what we could see. When the park was formed, they didn’t include any of the water in the park, and over the years the marine populations began to decline due to overfishing and other factors. In the 1990’s the Tonga Marine Reserve was created to protect the waters bordering Abel Tasman. It is a fiercely protected area. If you are caught fishing or harvesting marine animals here you are subject to up to a $200,000 fine plus the confiscation of whatever else you were using in your operation (including boats, dive gear, etc). The marine animal populations have recovered remarkably since the protection went into place. We were lucky enough to see several seals today, including a pup!
After traveling up to the top bay, we dropped down into each bay as we headed back south…dropping people off along the way. Finally, we reached Bark Bay, which is where we were getting dropped off. The boat put us right onto the beach and we crossed it to meet up with the coastal walkway. From here we had 4 hours to hike 12 km down to Anchorage Bay, where the taxi would pick us up.
We wandered along the track, popping in and out of the bush to spectacular views of the beaches and coastline below. We were treated to the songs of many bellbirds along the way. We crossed the swing bridge at Falls River, which was a big deal! Who knew it would be so springy and swingy?! But I survived. Finally, we came into Torrent Bay, which is just one bay up from Anchorage. We stopped off for a picnic lunch on the beach. Then we continued on to Anchorage. At low tide, you can walk across the estuary in just 45 minutes. But we were there as the tide was coming in, so we opted for the coastal track around the estuary, which took about an hour longer. Finally, we rounded a corner and saw the beach at Anchorage. We had made it with time to spare! We plopped down on the beach and had a snack while we waited for our taxi. As she arrived and we got on board, we were both happily exhausted. It was a fantastic day!