Back at the start of winter I decided to head to Abel Tasman for some tramping. Knowing about the great walk there and never having done one, I was intrigued. Because I wanted to make it as easy as possible transport wise I added on the inland track to my itinerary as well as doing the coastal track. This meant I could leave my car at Marahau and see it again in five days.
The coastal track is usually walked over 3-4days as it is about 60 kms. The inland track is about another 40 km so it was a solid 100km loop. That being said because the Great walks are so well graded I could zoom along at pace and did the whole circuit in 4 nights and 5 days averaging about 20km a day.
I mixed it up a little and took my tent for the coastal track and then made good use of the doc backcountry huts on the inland track. Although I would have loved to stay in the great walk huts I didn’t have the spare cash on me at the time, and already had some handy backcountry hut tickets so was happy in my tent .
I had great weather apart from one day and night where it rained constantly. Luckily I arrived at the camp to a massive tree that sheltered me while I set up camp. Never been so thankful for dry bags! They are super essential for ensuring you get a dry nights sleep.
The coastal track was beautiful, really easy walking and apart from the first 10km which attracted a lot of day walkers, not super busy due to the season I was walking it in. I can easily see how overwhelming and crowded the track would get during the high season. I thoroughly enjoyed the Coastal track and can really see why it is considered a Great Walk.
I was pretty excited to get on the inland track and be in a hut that night. As much as I love my tent, nothing quite beats turning the corner and seeing the hut with its magical chimney ready for a cosy night in. The track turned from the wide highway of a Great Walk track to a classic NZ tramping track. Straightaway I was climbing steadily gainiNg height above the coast. The track wound it’s way through paddocks and then into the forest, over many obstacles such as fallen trees from a cyclone that hit this area a few years ago.
Awapoto hut is a good looking perfectly positioned 12-bunker with water tanks, a wood burner and a spectacular view across the Tasman. This Classic doc 12 bunker nestled in its spot was waiting for me patiently. I already knew due to the time of year that I could be in for a night alone but I was looking forward to a good sleep and some solitude.
I reached the hut around 3.30pm and was well ready for a cup of tea and to get the fire cranking. The last person had left some dry kindling around the fire which was a godsend as it had been raining on and off for hours. The rain had cleared in the evening making for a good view as I ate an early dinner on the deck. Woohoo that sunset!
The next morning after a hearty feed of porridge and some quick snaps of the hut it was time for the six hour ( according to doc) stroll to castle rocks hut. It was a challenging walk because many uprooted trees blocked the path so sometimes it wasn’t entirely clear where the trail went. However, the trail workers had done a reasonableby good job of putting in new orange triangles to show the way aand after a spot of lunch at the old Moa park hut which is now a shelter,I carried on through to castle rocks in a solid four hour day of hiking.
Arriving at that nights accomodation a little early I was able to go and check out the castle rocks which were about 15 mins from the hut. The view was spectacular right across the bay and down to Marahau. When I returned to the hut, expecting to be alone for another night there was an awesome chick called Alex who was also alone, we hit it off immediately and got some tea water cranking. Along came a couple of veteran trampers who knew so much about NZ hiking and we shared some good yarns over dinner and got the fire going really well. It’s always awesome to meet other kiwis out enjoying our backyard, I meet so many foreigners which is awesome too, but hearing some of the tales of the trails that had been enjoyed over the last fifty years by this couple was super encouraging for me as a young hiker.
Last day of the hike and I was a little tired but pretty relaxed and refreshed too. The beauty of having a good nights rest and the afternoon to chill out does wonders for a body after a day of tramping and climbing through trees. Oh and the deep heat which is a trusty saviour really helps the back too. After hearing from the others who had walked in the way I was heading today, I knew I was in for a lot of downhill, sorry knees.
Downhill hiking requires a lot of concentration and muscles avoiding obstacles and too much jarring on the joints. Stopped over at the cute little shelter for lunch with a view, then headed onwards to join back up with the coastal track for the last forty minutes back to Marahau.
100km more or less and I was back to the start! What an epic circuit to complete, and was super lucky with the weather.
Highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a solid hike and who has the time to combine the coastal and the inland track. They both have very different types of tramping to offer, but both with views and lovely huts and campsites.
I hope you all enjoyed.