My time in New Zealand is unfortunately coming to an end. I thought I’d do a quick blog before I leave Auckland, on my highlight of the semester. It’s difficult to choose just one, because my whole time here has been unbelievable, but if I had to pick one it would be doing the Abel Tasman Great Walk on the South Island.
New Zealand offers 9 Great Walks, that are multiple day hikes. You walk and camp or stay in huts, passing diverse and spectacular scenery. Abel Tasman was a four day trek on the northern tip of South Island. I thought I’d give you a bit of an insight into the hike, or at least how it went for us anyway.
Today we flew into Nelson, a city at the very centre of New Zealand. Once we landed we decided we’d be clever and save money by walking to our hotel rather than take a taxi. What we thought would be a fairly short distance ended up being a 5k walk, which we had to do with our hiking gear on our backs. We later found out that there was a free shuttle from the airport to the city centre so really our money saving endeavor was for nothing, but I guess we got some practice in for the 37 km walk that faced us over the next couple of days. That evening we got some fish and chips by the sea and ate them whilst watching the sun set, before stocking up on food and supplies for our 4 days out of civilization along the Able Tasman Coastal Trek.
It was time to set off on our hike. We got up bright and early ready to catch a 7am bus over to a little village called Marahau. We headed off on our hike in what started as a light drizzle, and soon turned into a heavy downpour. We walked 12km on our first day and were all thoroughly soaked through, with even our waterproof covers struggling to hold up. We finally reached a clearing where we could see the coastline and the rain miraculously stopped and the sun came out, just in time for us to take some nice photos of the amazing views. It was around 2 o’clock when we made it to our campsite, and we managed to set up the tents just in time as it started to rain again. Luckily the campsite had a covered area where we all sat, ate food and played some card games, whilst making friends with other travellers doing the great walk.
We set off at 6 am this morning, in order to beat the tide and cross a nearby estuary. Walking along the beach at sunrise was an incredible experience. The rest of the day consisted of never ending uphills, but thankfully the rain held off and our stuff started to dry. On our way to our second campsite we came across a little secluded cove where we all swam and made the most of the sun. Our campsite this evening was right on the beach, so we all swam and walked up the coastline.
Another early start. We had to cross another estuary today, but unlike yesterday where we could have taken an alternative route if we had missed low tide, we had no other option today. Low tide was at 7:30 and we had estimated that it was 3km walk and aimed to head out at 6:30. In the morning we realized we had read the sign wrong and it was a 8km walk not 3, so had to pack up our stuff quickly and rush to the estuary, and fortunately we managed to make it just in time. Despite having to practically power walk without stopping, it meant that we reached the end of our hike by lunch time, and the weather was still wonderful so we could relax at our last campsite and spend time on the beach. That evening we walked down the beach and came across a cave barely big enough to fit the 10 of us, and it was full of glow worms, which was really cool experience.
Today we spent the morning in the campsite again and went for an early morning swim, before catching the water taxi back to the beginning of the trek. Whilst on the water taxi we were able to see the whole coastline which we had just walked from the water and could appreciate the immense distance we had hiked and the diverse and beautiful scenery we walked through. We even spotted some baby seals on our way back.
All in all, despite the few weather and distance-misjudging related issues, it was a brilliant trip and is hands down one of the best experiences I’ve had in New Zealand.