[SUBW-A] Trip Report - New Zealand - Abel Tasman NP

Albert Chetcuti albertc at med.usyd.edu.au
Mon Mar 4 08:49:39 AEDT 2002

New Zealand South Island - Abel Tasman National Park - Coastal Track
22nd-24th January 2002.

Trampers: Albert Chetcuti and Wendy Au

Having left the wet and windy city of Christchurch (known to the locals
as Ch-Ch), we headed north, up the east coast of the South Island, to
Motueka. This is the hub of the north, being the main supply town for
the Abel Tasman National Park. As the planned walk is one the 'great
walks', it was very popular. Having obtained the necessary camping 1pass
from the DOC office (equivalent of NPWS in oz) in Motueka, we started
our 3-day tramp (sorry, I mean bushwalk) at the tiny town of Marahau.
Our destination for the night was Anchorage Bay, 11.5 km to the north.
Along the way we passed and admired many golden sandy beaches, including
Appletree Bay, Stilwell Bay, and Akersten Bay. The landscape to the west
was dominated by mountains, which meant many mountain streams were
crossed along the way.

This is one of the most commerialised national parks I have every been
to.  The park is very popular with sea kayaks, and a taxi service
operates along the coast. The walk down to Anchorage Bay was
spectacular, with views of both the ocean, and the bay. At Anchorage
Bay, there is a 28-person category 1 hut, which included facilities such
as filtered drinking water, gas stoves, and flush toilets!! As the hut
was full (bookings required), we spent the night in the nearby
campground. This was just as luxurious, as it also had a filtered
drinking water tap and brand new flush toilets and toilet paper !! (the
toilet paper was the cheap, rough paper that feels like 1200 grade
wet-dry sandpaper).

The next day required crossing a tidal mudflat. The night before, I
checked the tide sheet, which mentioned that low tide today was at 11:00
am. The crossing is quite do-able, 1-2 hrs within low tide. About a km
for camp, we reach the mudflat. The tide was well and truly low, so we
enjoyed the 900 m bash with mud. A few large stream needed crossing,
before we reached the other side, known as Torrent Bay. Here, there was
a camp site for about 10 tents. As we'd decided to spend tonight here,
we pitched our tent, and left all our sleeping gear and unnecessary
things behind. This camp site had running water, a cold shower, and
flush toilets, all for the huge sum of $NZ7 a night ($AUS6).

Day 2 consisted of a day walk from Torrent Bay to Bark Bay and back, a
total distance of 15.6 km. Torrent Bay is quite interesting, as the
coast track goes pass about 20 houses which are privately owned. This
area felt very suburban, even though there were no streets, and the only
access is by boat (or sea-plane). By lunch time we reached Bark bay,
which is a long beach popular with day-trips (they come up by water
taxi). Also at Bark bay, is another category 1 hut, which we didn't
checkout. After a relaxing lunch break on the beach, followed by a bit
of a snooze, we headed back to Torrent Bay.

Along the way we stopped at Half-way creek, which as the name suggests,
is halfway between Bark bay and Torrent bay. As the day had been quite
warm, we decided to have a bit of a swim. The water was absolutely
freezing, but very refreshing. We also manage to see a yabbie swimming
around, which also gave me an excuse to spend the least amount of time
in the water.

Back at camp, we noticed billions of those bloody fucken sandflies
(sorry for the bad language) around our tent. Some of those little
bloody f.....n sandflies had managed to get in the tent, which we were
not very pleased about. We'd noticed that we were the only campers at
Torrent Bay, so we re-located to tent to an area with  less sandflies (I
don't think such an area exists). I think Torrent bay should be renamed
"Bloody f...... Sandyfly Bay".

On day 3, we packed and headed back to Marahau, via the Torrent bay mud
flat, which we had crossed the previous day. There is also a high-tide
track which you can use, instead of crossing the mud-flat. By the time
we started walking, it was not quite low tide, but the water was low
enough to make the going easy. Some of the out-going streams were
considerable larger than anticipated, but we managed to make the
crossing without to much trouble. All that was left, was the 11 km walk
back to the car-park at Marahau.

The beaches are numerous and the most beautiful I'd seen in New Zealand.
But, not as nice as those in Jervis Bay, or the Bay of Fires in
Tasmania. We had done only part, of the full 51 km walk along the coast.

See ya


Albert Chetcuti
Cancer Genetics Group
Department of Medicine
Faculty of Medicine
Blackburn Building - D06
The University of Sydney
NSW, 2006 Australia.

(02) 9515 5194 (Office1)
(02) 9351 3556 (Office2)
(02) 9515 5192 (Lab)
(02) 9516 1273 (Fax)
Email albertc at med.usyd.edu.au

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