After finishing the Rakiura Track and spending my final day with Kay, I flew up to Nelson. I was welcomed into the home of my brother, Nigel, his wife Keary and their 2 naughty young Burmese cats. They eat socks and shoelaces and burgle the neighbours!!
The last time I was here in Nelson was when I was helicoptered out of the Richmond Ranges. A packet of instant mashed potatoes that I had left behind then was still in their pantry.
My daughter, Cara, from Palmerston North arrived a couple of days later. She had a brand new pack and was excited to be going on her first multi night tramp. The 60km long Abel Tasman Coastal track is to be her first Great Walk. Cara has been busy raising her family for many years and has embraced the freedom to do her own thing since the girls have left home.
We spent a few hours at the supermarket buying food for the tramp. We had decided to move away from my usual boring Backcountry meals for dinner. As a result, we left with 2 nights of instant mashed potatoes, sausages, instant gravey to be mixed with a vegetable soup for the first 2 nights. Our 3rd night was to be a freeze dried vegan spaghetti bolgnaise with a packet of instant noodles. A Three Cheese Pasta was on the menu for the 4th night. They were all good and will definitely stay on the menu for my future expeditions.
Being one of New Zealand’s Great Walks I had to book ahead of time. Pre Covid times these huts and campsites can book out within hours of the annual bookings being opened up. However this year I booked only a month ago and was able to secure the first and last nights in huts and the other 2 nights at camping areas.
New Zealand is now in our first major outbreak of Covid-19, the Omicron is fast spreading around the whole country so I checked the website to see if there had been some cancelations meaning we could swap out the tent sites for huts. I was pleased to see that we could so attempted to use the DOC booking site to change the bookings.
Soon I was becoming very frustrated as I could not found the “alter booking” button. Stupid websites!! So I rang DOC and they suggested I use a different browser. That didn’t work either so grumpy me rang the lady back. She “looked in the back end” and saw that I had booked to start on 19th February instead of 19th of March. Dumb woman! You can’t change something that has already happened. I asked about a refund and was told that there was nothing in the terms and conditions that covered stupidity.
However we were able to book huts for all 4 nights and organisec our transport to the start. The water taxi trip to Totaranui was like a tour as we were taken to see seal colonies, lovely golden bays and some historic sights.
The five days walking was all easy being a very popular Great Walk. It meandours around the coastline through nice bush and many small beaches. Pre Covid the place would have been alive with kyajers, water taxis, people doing day walks, fishing and picnicking.
At the end of yhe second day we had an estuary to cross which needed to be done 1.5 hours before to low tide at 5.53pm, or up to 2 hours after. We took our time that day and did some side trips to fill in the day we arrived right on low tide and made the half hour crossing with water only up to our knees. The people who had arrived before us had water up to their waists so we were pleased with our timing.
The huts were only partly full the had the track to ourselves most of the time. These 5 days were probably the first time I have been alone with Cara for this long since she was a baby. It was very special.
Cara had a new pack and this was her first multi night tramp. Other than not sleeping well she enjoyed herself and managed well. We walked at the same pace which was good.
Cars had a trip and I managed to slip off a rock above Cleoptas Pool which had us both in hysterics. It wasn’t very glamorous but I did manage to get back up and not plunge down into to the water below.
The weather was overcast and we had one day of walking in light rain. The track was mostly sandstone so there was no mud and we were pleased not to be out in scorching NZ sun. Overall perfect.
I hadn’t organised transport back to Nelson as I was planning on giving Cara her first hitchhiking experience. We were planning on visiting the cafe for a proper cup of tea before trying our luck. However a nice young man pulled over and offered us a lift only a 100 metres from the end of the track.
It turned out that I had read about him as he was from India, had walked Te Araroa and was aiming to visit 900 huts in 900 days.
He dropped as at the Richmond Mall where we enjoyed some “real food”. We hoped we didn’t smell too badly after 5 days without a shower.
I throughly recommend the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk especially if you are not a hard out tramper. The days are easy and you can use water taxis transport your gear if you want. There are even flushing toilets and toilet paper at all the huts. There are options from 1 to 5 day walks too.