The Abel Tasman National Park is situated at the north of South Island New Zealand. It was named after Abel Tasman, the first European to discover the country, and was somewhere that we had both been desperate to visit. As you will know if you’re a follower of our blog, we do love those special moments that seem to regularly occur whilst JWalking. This was to be a special day.
Activities in Abel Tasman National Park
Although it is the smallest National Park in New Zealand, Abel Tasman has so many different trips and activities available that it was difficult for us to choose one that we liked the look of. We really wanted to see as much of the place as possible and have a long hike through the park so one called the Swing Bridge, Bush and Beach walk with Wilsons of Abel Tasman seemed ideal. It was a boat trip followed by a 4-6 hour hike then a final boat trip back which sounded perfect.
Swing Bridge, Bush and Beach Walk
We needed an early start from the Laughing Kiwi Backpackers lodge in Motueka (Land Sailing on Queen Charlotte Sound) as we had to get up the coast to a small town called Kaiteriteri for 9am. Weather forecast was a bit grim and it seemed dark and overcast as we wandered down onto the sand. The plan was to meet the boat on the beach and within minutes we found ourselves in a long queue full of excited tripsters. Unfortunately it was the wrong queue for the wrong boat and we sheepishly wandered away from the grinning crew and crowd looking for the Wilsons one.
Safely aboard the correct boat and obviously seated outside to get the best views, we set off. The first part of the trip was cruising up the coast, stopping off at various bays and beaches until we reached Totaranui which was as far as the boats could go. Then we’d stay on the boat all the way back to Medlands Beach where we’d disembark and then walk for 4 hours or so down to Anchorage Bay.
Cruising the Tasman Bay
The sun burst out as we slowly cruised out into Tasman Bay and up past Marahua, Apple Tree Bay, Adele Island, Torrent Bay and many more beautiful locations. Every few minutes revealed another incredibly stunning view as we stopped at white sandy beaches and passed steep rocky outcrops.
Before long we’d reached Totaranui and turned for the return trip south. It seemed to be getting even more picturesque and even hotter as the boat slowly slid onto Medlands Beach for the beginning of our walk. Now before we get into that I need to explain the the Kiwi people of this island of New Zealand love to talk about tramping. This may mean something different in the UK but down here it means hiking so everyone refers to tramping tracks and going tramping and now we’re past the sniggering stage we know what they mean.
Tramping the Abel Tasman Track
Heading ashore at Medlands Beach we joined the famous Abel Tasman Coast Track which runs for 60 kilometres and generally takes 4 or 5 days to complete. We wouldn’t be doing the lot of course just a short section of 12 km down to Anchorage Bay. Long enough though in the extreme heat of our long day out. The track is a very natural path carved through the rainforest that twists and turns along the edge of the sea rising and falling quite steeply in places making it a reasonably challenging walk (tramp).
Luckily the trees protected us from the searing hot sun for the majority of the walk and we managed to remain fairly cool with regular water stops on our way towards Bark Bay and its famous swing bridge.
Bark Bay Swing Bridge
Dense forest and steep cliffs suddenly gave way to the gloriously turquoise blue Falls River and the long single track suspension bridge. As you know Jo isn’t great with heights or dodgy swinging-about bridges and unfortunately this ticked both boxes. As luck would have it though we were the only people there so with some steely nerves and a ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude she nailed that bridge completely!
Straight over with no problem and even time to pose for the main photo of this post. Nothing stops her! I was struggling just to keep up………..
After another hours ‘tramping’ we stumbled upon the most perfect spot for a bit of lunch. A single bench just past Boundary Bay with uninterrupted views across to the Tasman and the beautiful forest and coastline between. It couldn’t have been better. It was one of those times when we kept saying to each other that we ‘must remember’ this moment.
Racing with the Germans
The next hour of our hike was spent cutting inland a bit to get round various rivers and inlets but our main problem was the family of Germans that we were following. They alternated between charging ahead and stopping suddenly for group photos and we must have passed them 10 times in 20 minutes as they found a photographic viewpoint then marched past us once again. In fact the last 20 minutes as we descended into Anchorage Bay were spent with me in the midst of the Deutsch family and Jo walking with the Mum chatting about holidays. If you can’t beat them eh?
Arriving through the bushes onto the beach we were amazed to find it packed with people. Every hiker seemed to have reached the beach and just stopped and sat down. We moved a little way along and found ourselves a deserted little spot where we proceeded to strip off and charge into the refreshing cool water. We had costumes of course! Just no towels. Not a problem when it was so hot as the sun dried us in seconds.
Swimming in the beautiful blue water of Anchorage Bay was almost perfect after 4 hours tramping and we could hardly believe that we were really there. All too soon the boat arrived and we were boarding and heading back down to Kaiteriteri. The sun was starting to drop as we disembarked way out on the edge of the sand and paddled the short distance to the shore.
Tramping the Abel Tasman Track had been something we had longed to do for ages and as we wearily made our way back to the Laughing Kiwi Backpackers in Motueka we couldn’t quite believe how fabulous the whole day had been. A day that we would never forget.