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south island trip, part 2

abel tasman coastal track

View Studying in Auckland on ctamler's travel map.

can you tell that studying is the LAST thing i am interested in doing right now?


the abel tasman's a one-way track, takes 3-4 days to tramp. you can turn it into a loop if you add the inland track, but we chose the one-way option with our limited time and resources, which meant we planned to take a water taxi to the north end of the track and hiked south.

in the morning we rushed from the barn to the aquataxi office, suddenly scared by our lack of bookings. before we could catch a breath we found ourselves being towed in the water taxi across a watery estuary by a big tractor, which pushed us backwards into the sea. kirstin, zack, and i sat in the back, because we're the cool kids. that meant we had to stand up as we were being backed in, to avoid getting drenched.

our taxi ride was a bit like a two-hour tour, pretty decent for fifty bucks. we swung by split apple rock, a halved granite fruit resting on a bed of rock marshmallows, before heading for mutton cove, the furthest stop along the track.

the sun was out, from time to time. the sky wasn't clear and it was chilly with the brisk wind on the boat. the taxi operator poked fun at our ridiculous aeroflot-colored tent in its giant, unwieldy bag. we ate muffins and apples, and saw seals on tonga island, and the lone bottlenose dolphin that's been haunting torrent bay came out to play with us. as we motored on and on -- and on -- i watched the shore hurry by. i couldn't imagine ever walking that far. it seemed endless, thick trees punctuated by bay after bay, a few vacation homes in torrent bay and a few campsites in other bays visible but other than that no signs of civilization. and us with our last-minute water purification tablet purchase and our stupid tent and our salami and our two broken lighters.

no time for second thoughts. down the ramp at mutton cove, where we undertook our first small side tramp, to separation point, where we got up close and personal with some new zealand fur seals. zack dubbed them "bear ducks," which i think is awfully appropriate. such large, fuzzy, clumsy things, hobbled by the shore, with their cherry cordial eyes and their irritable yelps. but in the water they are slender and graceful, and their strange rubbery webbed gloves make sudden sense. we got into an argument about whether seals are faster than michael phelps. (they are, if you were wondering.)

it was our shortest day save the last, maybe four hours total of tramping to totaranui, our first campsite. we endured little rain, but certainly some wind and chill. the track took us alternately across beaches and through forests. we encountered stoat traps: an egg inside a rectangular wooden box with wire mesh at either end. apparently they somehow incorporate cyanide as well. at totaranui's visitor center we discovered the reason: stoats kill wekas, a very rare, flightless new zealand bird that they're trying to repopulate abel tasman with.

we managed, that night, to find a way to stretch our stupid tent with yellow twine so that none of the walls were particularly collapsed. it was warmer, and i slept with two layers of socks, and in the morning the sun burned off the clouds and -- magic: beautiful day.

Posted by ctamler 01:27 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

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