Well, everything worked, really.
The Abel Tasman is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, and one thing we do well in New Zealand is walking. The National Park was nearly at full capacity, and while there are day trippers you’re not exactly tripping over them. There is plenty of space to breathe, a 60 kilometre trail winding through the bush. I tramp in a bit of a trance usually, wandering along in my subconscious.
It was a glorious five days for the eyes: sweeping coastal vistas, big skies, intricate walls of ferns and a thousand shades of green and shapes of leaf. The tidal range leaves wide sandy banks and lagoons and there are high bush covered hills behind. Much of it is fairly recent regrowth: lots of fern and manuka scrubby stuff, with punga and nikau coming through, beeches, rata, kahikitea.
We struck a moody week for weather. The sea changed from sparkling turquoise to pewter grey many times during each day but was always inviting for swimming. We walked through low clouds over the hills and along sun-struck, sandy beaches. It rained overnight and a couple of days we packed up wet, but the afternoon sea breeze dried the tents for sleeping.
We walked from Marahau to Anchorage, to Bark Bay, to Awaroa to Totaranui, carrying tents and packs, and caught the water taxi back. A note about the water taxis, they offer a superb service. They will pick up and deliver people, kayaks and luggage from beach to beach. You can have as little or as much challenge as you want. Tramping snobs will say all that pandering makes the Abel Tasman adventure-lite, and it is! It’s wonderful! The paths are smooth and well maintained. It is very accessible, though you need to be fit; the hills are steep. If you want more of a challenge, run a section barefoot. That’s exhilarating.
We met a school group at Bark Bay who were entertaining; a German/Italian pair who had just met and were falling in love (there are two people in the world who peel chickpeas to make hummus on a tramp and they met on my watch!); a pair of disparate school mates who drank gin with hot raro and carried a deck chair and got on famously although one was a neat nerd and the other a shambolic musician; French, Germans, an American and two Croats, Canadians and Australians. I was an odd kiwi (there were lots of bloody weka, though). I walked the lonely length of Totaranui beach as the light came up one morning and found my daughter’s bestie from home sitting on a log.
The packing list was good. Nothing missed. Nothing needed. Food lasted well, though couldn’t face the cup-a-soups and the frooze balls tasted like sick. Those dried tramping meals (half for dinner and other half in a wrap for lunch) were light, convenient and filling, but only just adequate – you have to be pretty hungry to enjoy them. Would like to find a home made alternative. But I’m not shelling chickpeas.
One tramping hack to share: turn the half-mattress into a full mattress by layering your clothes flat into your pack liner and trapping a bit of air in it. Keeps your legs off the ground. So much more comfortable, and adds nothing to the pack weight.
Pack light, my lovelies. There’re hills.