The first multi day hike I had planned was the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, one of the famous Great Walks. I was super curious and incredibly motivated so I decided to follow the track for about two thirds and to hike back the Inland Track. I parked the car at the DOC operated car park in Marahau and I was quite scared about the rental car at the beginning but they’re equipped with security cameras and it looked quite safe. I made a list to get an over view what gear I have to take and in fact there are plenty threes I decided to take my hammock and a tarp instead of a tent to save some space in my backpack. The hike in total was about 75km and I expected to walk for 4-5 days. I used the 60 Liter EXPLORER TRAMPING PACK from KIWI CAMPING to carry a couple clothes, food and water, hammock, sleeping bag, mattress and all the other gear for my camera, navigation or cooking items and it was quite easy to fit everything into it or to attach it outside. After about one hour of organizing how to pack and what to take my backpack was prepared and I started hiking at about 4 pm. It was beginning of April and it was getting dark pretty soonish so I had to hurry up a tiny bit but actually there was no chance to get to a sleeping spot before it gets dark. I knew if I would leave the track for more than 500m I’m allowed to do freedom camping again. So I left to track for about 500m and found a quite good place to sleep. It was freezing but I felt good and had a good sleep.
I woke up at about 6 am, made some breakfast with my little GASMATE camping stove and packed all my gear back into my backpack. I took my time definitely but two hours later I was back on the track and arrived one hour later at Bark Bay which is an official camp site to fill up my water. Suddenly a ranger appeared and asked me for my ticket. I tried to explain him that I left the track for more than 500m but he just asked for my GPS tracker to proof it. Well I didn’t knew about this and I had to pay for the last night and for the next one. In fact it’s not written on their website so I paid just NZD 28 and now I had the permit to sleep at the campsites for the following night. I decided to continue until the Awaroa Bay where I had to wait for the low tide. Unfortunately the high tide just returned and forced me to stay the night there but I already paid for the camping and I had some nice conversations with some other hikers:)
The next morning was also freezing cold but somehow it made me just more motivated to move on. Unfortunately I still had to wait until the high tide disappeared. So I had plenty time for a proper breakfast and at about 11 am finally the water was flat enough for me to move on. I took my shoes and my pants off and walked through the cold flat water to get to the other side of the bay. Here I left the Coastal Track and followed in a tough ascent a dirt road (“awaroa rd”) to get to the Inland Track junction, Pigeon Saddle. Here I took the Inland Track back to the car park. So far the track was super prepared. Bridges appear everywhere to cross even the smallest creek in a comfortable way. Well…except of the tidal areas. Also even just the ground is incredible smoothly to walk. But now everything is going to change. The track became really tough. It was muddy, slippery, overgrown and steep. Really steep. I was walking uphill for the whole day and now it turned so steep that I took like every 15 minutes a small break and ate some dried bananas. The trick is to walk just a bit slower otherwise you get just exhausted quickly. After a couple hours of following the orange triangle signs I left the rainforest and was finally above the bush line. What an amazing view. It was in middle of the sun set and I was pretty good in schedule so I took the time to enjoy this moment. At about 6 pm I finally arrived at the Awapoto Hut and shared this one with two Swedish girls, a German girl and an elderly Kiwi couple. To stay in a standard hut like this you just need one of the tickets you can get from the Department of Conservatory for NZ$ 5/night. Usually there is an oven and mattresses installed and you have an amazing view so I think the price is more than fair.
This was my first night in a hut and it was super cozy, warm and very comfortable. I made my daily hiking breakfast, oats with sugar and peanut butter and started cheerful probably my last stage. It was about 28km from the Awapoto Hut back to the car park and the Kiwi couple told me it’s really tough and almost impossible to get back to the car park before it turns dark but I wanted to give it a try and started to hike a bit faster. The first 5km were still a steep ascent but if you reached once the junction to the Wainui Hut it gets more and more flat. In fact you are all the time in altitude and in the shadow of the rainforest it can get really cold up there. So either I just kept moving or I started to freeze. I was anyway in a little hurry that I decided to take my first brake when I would find a spot which is exposed to the sun. After about 3 hours and 10km I arrived at the Moa Park Shelter (a bit more than 1000m a.s.l.) which is a great spot. The shelter gets warmed up by the sun and the surrounding landscape is just amazing. I finshed my dried bananas and continued thirty minutes later to car park. Now it was supposed to be mostly just downhill but for some reason there were still hard uphill parts. One hour later I arrived at the Holyoake Hut and from now I knew it will be downhill for sure. My feet started to hurt and the only way to ignore this was to continue. If I made a break the pain started to appear immediately so I just walked further and further all the way down back to the sea level until I hit the Coastal Track again. It was a kind of a really funny feeling to get back on this perfectly prepared track which leads me directly back to where I started. I arrived back at the car park at the end of sun set and I felt pretty exhausted but also really happy. Probably I hiked way to fast but I enjoyed the Abel Tasman Coastal Track & Inland Track in its entirety.
Blog and images courtesy of Eric Seehof.