Yesterday I went to Abel Tasman, which is the smallest, yet most popular, national park in New Zealand.
New Zealand has 9 different “great walks,” which are longer hikes where you camp or stay in huts to be able to complete the walk. One of them is in Abel Tasman, called the Abel Tasman Coastal Track.
They recommend 3-5 days to complete the entire track and have designated camping spots. I don’t have the gear, etc. to do the whole thing, so I just did a day trip!
I took the bus from Nelson to Marahau, which is the tiny town (aka a cafe and hostel) where the trail head starts. I had about 6.5 hours before the return bus so I figured I’d walk for about 3 hours, eat some lunch and then turn around.
Looking at signage, I had no idea how far I’d get, since they say the first camp is 4 hours away. I soon realized that those times were for people with all their camping gear and backpacks, so I was able to walk much faster! I made it all the way to anchorage hut and back (plus some short lookouts, etc.). I ended up walking over 25k, which is about 15.5 miles!
One of the perks to the great walks is that they are very much “walks” – the trail in Abel Tasman was almost completely flat, so it’s suitable for almost anyone. I saw kids, older couples, etc.
For the most part the trail is shaded, and is up on the hills, so you’re often walking through rainforest type terrain.
I finally made it to Anchorage Hut, which is where most people spend the first night. While I hiked in, you can also kayak in (which would be amazing!) or take a water taxi. Getting down to the hut was the only steep part, but worth it! You can see below the top picture shows the beach from the trail before the descent and the bottom picture is level.
On the way back I ended up getting in the water – it wasn’t too cold and definitely refreshing! There are trail turn-offs to go down to different coves and beaches which are steep, but not long – and as you can see, they are definetly worth the detour!
I can only imagine what this entire track is like; I heard the views get better the further up the trail you go. At some point I’ll come back and do some great walks, but for now, today’s hike was perfect!