As explained in my post about the glaciers, I met a couple of people there who were willing to join me in doing the Abel Tasman coastal track. So, after we had finished doing what we wanted to do at the glaciers, Jeroen, Laura, and I got into my car and drove North.
For the first part of the trip however, the weather from the glaciers seemed to have followed us and we spent that time in the rain. Luckily, it was sunny when we arrived at the first place we wanted to visit, Punakaiki. I’d been here briefly before with Kelsey as the bus we took to Greymouth when we were going to take the TranzAlpine express stopped there, but then we had only 20 minutes to view these pancake rocks. That wasn’t nearly enough time, even though it’s a pretty small place. So, what are these pancake rocks? Actually, I don’t think I need to really explain it as the picture does a good job at showing it. It’s a coastal area where all the rocks show clear layers, and has some other interesting features like blowholes and a surge pool. A nice place to stop if you’re in the neighborhood.
After our stop at Punakaiki we moved on again, heading for the Abel Tasman region, where we arrived at our hostel quite late after having to drive through a pass similar to the Haast pass I’d gone through on the way there. So, our first step the next day was to arrange things for our trip through the park, which we were going to do with a tent. So, after arranging a tent and the passes for the walk we then decided to go for a drive into the park first. There were plenty of good places to visit that we wouldn’t see during the actual trekking. So, on this day we visited the Grove Scenic Reserve, the Labyrinth Rocks Park, and the Te Waikoropupu Springs. Of these I would definitely recommend visiting the springs, but don’t waste your time on the labyrinth. The most interesting thing about that was probably how somebody had spread out a whole bunch of toys across the park.
The Springs however were truly beautiful. Visitors aren’t actually allowed to touch the water though, as these springs are the purest fresh water springs in the world. Only the water underneath the Ross Ice Shelf is known to be clearer. Which already says quite a bit about it. Coupled with the beautiful surroundings, I for one enjoyed my visit there.
The next morning however, it was time for the three of us to go trekking. Our plan was to be dropped of at the end, and then walk back to the start. For this we’d booked places on a water taxi, and so we could enjoy the park from the water as well. The water taxi was pretty quick however, so after a short time we’d arrived at the beach that would be the start of our journey. As it happens, there are a number of places on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track that can only be crossed a couple of hours either side of low tide. And the first of these was less than an hour from our starting position. As it was still early, and we therefore had about 3 hours before we could cross that we spent this time wisely by enjoying the sun on the beach. Alas, my sunscreen turned out not to be strong enough, so this would end up having some unfortunate consequences later on. At the time though, it was very enjoyable.
After enjoying the sun for a time, we then started walking again. It was an enjoyable time, with perfect sunny weather. The crossings themselves were even at low tide still watery though, so a fair part of this was walked barefoot. So, eventually we reached our first campsite, where with my extensive knowledge of camping I wisely left the setting up of the tent to the people actually familiar with it, helping where I could of course. Unfortunately, by this time it became quite clear that I was burned pretty badly, which didn’t make for either pleasant sleeping in the tent, or carrying a heavy backpack. Laura suffered from the same affliction, but Jeroen seemed to have spent enough time on the beaches in Australia that he wasn’t bothered at all. Lucky bastard…
The next morning we had an early start, and were greeted with a cloudy sky. This actually made the walk more pleasant, and as we once again walked through various bays as well as seeing a fair number of waterfalls and other beautiful pieces of nature. This time too, there was a tidal crossing at the very end of our walk that day and so we had to spent more time on the beach waiting for it. A truly horrible experience of course, especially as the sun had made a reappearance by that time. For this crossing we could’ve chosen to take the high water route, which would add a mere 1.5 hours to the walk, but we decided to tough it out on the beach instead.
That night we spent at Anchorage, the end point for everyone who does a day trip, meaning it was quite busy, but also that the next day wouldn’t be very hard. After talking to the DOC ranger at the site we decided to do some short walks that evening, and even visit a small cave of glow worms. The next day was a pretty easy walk back to the start of the track. Flat and short, but because of the burns it wasn’t quite as pleasant or easy as I would’ve liked. Still, all in all the Abel Tasman Coastal Track was a really nice walk, and I’m happy to have done it in such nice company.