Heading out

South Island: Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

Our water taxi was booked to take us from the beach at Kaiteriteri at 8:30am, or so we thought. Turns out the time on the ticket was incorrect and pick-ups don’t start till 9am in the off season, thanks for telling us and advertising the wrong details Aqua Taxi. It was a lovely morning and I took advantage of the spare time to take some photos from the beach. I watched a pied shag take multiple journeys to the beach where it selected a stick to take back for nest building purposes. There were also a few people going out to some of the boats moored in the bay and in the distance there were snow covered peaks, all in all there are worse places to be waiting for a water taxi.

Heading outPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Row row row your boat.

Kaiteriteri BeachPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Kaiteriteri Beach.

Pied ShagPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Flying off with the perfect nest building stick.

When they did arrive the service was friendly and the transfer efficient with a few stops at significant features along the way to our drop off at Bark Bay. Because it was a small boat we were able to travel faster than the larger boats we had seen earlier, so that helped make up some of our lost half hour. We also got given a tip that we might be able to wade across the estuary and cut some time from the walk.

Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Viewing Split Apple Rock.

We were able to walk across the estuary but the last part, crossing a channel, proved to be a little troublesome. We all had to remove our trousers to ensure we didn’t have to walk in wet clothes, just as well I was too busy drying off and getting back into clothes to take photos. By the time we were all across, dried and fully dressed we probably didn’t make up any time. At least we had a little adventure to start our walk.

The weather was nicer than I recall the last time I was walking this track with Bridget and Dean back in 2005. It was sunny and warm with a cool breeze, very nice conditions to be walking. It also helped that this time around I didn’t have an overloaded pack including tent and cooking equipment.

From the Abel Tasman trackPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

A view from the track.

From the Abel Tasman trackPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

In the forest.

Tonga Island from the Tonga QuarryPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Tonga Island from the beach-side remnants of Tonga Quarry.

We were a little worried that we didn’t have enough time to walk to Awaroa Lodge, have lunch and get to the beach in time for our pick-up but were grateful to realise that the sign posted track times were for the DOC hut at the Awaroa Inlet, not the privately owned Awaroa Lodge which turned out to be an hour or so closer.

The forests were shady and interesting and the beaches beautiful in the sunlight. There were a few other walkers but no crowds of people which helped the walk seem unhurried, even if we were pushing ourselves at time to make the lodge so we had time to eat. Highlights included the long golden beach at Onetahuti Bay and the tannin browned stream at the beaches end, two beautiful spots.

Onetahuti BayPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

The Onetahuti Bay beach.

Onetahuti BayPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Walking the beach.

Onetahuti BayPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

The stream to be crossed at the end of Onetahuti Bay.

Arriving at Awaroa Lodge I noticed a few changes including a sprawling organic vegetable garden as we came onto the Lodge grounds. The bar and restaurant area hadn’t changed a lot, a new set of shade sail-clothes the most obvious difference. We were pretty much alone for our late lunch, one other walker coming in as we ate. The food wasn’t as good as the promise (I have fond memories of eating toast and jam last time, two days walking probably heightening the appreciation) but perhaps that was due to the off season timing of our walk. It was OK, but nothing more. The cold beer was however very good.

Arriving at Awaroa LodgePhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Arriving at Awaroa Lodge.

Beer o'clockPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Cold beer after a nice walk.

Once done it was about time to head down to the beach and await our taxi. The wind was got up while we walked and ate and the beach was being submitted to a stiff breeze which meant the waves were getting up. This made for an adventurous landing and a wet walk through the low surf onto the rocking boat, a task which was accomplished with minimal fuss and bother.

Heading to the beachPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Down to the beach.

Waiting pick-upPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

A wilder beauty.

With wind and waves the return journey was bumpier than the mornings ride but things got calmer as we neared Kaiteriteri. We saw some seals around Tonga Island and a few penguins and seals in the water as we headed back, stopping to pick up more walkers at a couple of bays. Arriving back at the accommodation it was nice to sit down and relax. Tomorrow, the journey to Karamea.

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