Enjoying Kaiteriteri Beach and Abel Tasman National Park.
Our two full days in the Tasman Bay region began with a leisurely breakfast at Eden’s End Backpacker Lodge and, of all things, a trip to McDonald’s. We went for the free wi-fi, instead of the food, but were pleasantly surprised by the coffee. In a country with limited and pricey internet access, McDonald’s offers a valuable resource.
Our plans for the afternoon solidified when we paused for a look at Kaiteriteri Beach and decided to stay.
A stroll, a chance to stretch out on the sand, a bit of reading. Sounds appropriate for a vacation. A bonus was watching families having fun together. Here’s a budding kayaker.
On our second day, we got more adventuresome and set off for a leg of the Abel Tasman Track. The track connects numerous secluded bays and beaches running north along the coastline to Golden Bay. [Dutch explorer Abel Tasman had named it "Murderer's Bay" after a 17th Century altercation with some Maori. More recently, thinking of the effect on tourist traffic, "We changed the name to Golden Bay and never looked back," according to our guide.]
The national park makes available a wide variety of ways to explore the Tasman Bay coastline. Hikers, with or without backpacks, can walk the whole length (about 5 days) or just a segment or two. Water taxis will haul people and gear (or just gear) to various spots along the coast. You can send your gear ahead and walk out to it, or carry it for a while and let a taxi bring it back. You can sleep at one spot, sending your gear to the next one, to be available when you get there. You can walk to the end and ride back, or vice-versa. Or you can take a taxi to a secluded beach and pick up another one for the return trip later in the day.
Here’s just one of the several surprisingly small folks we saw participating in the adventure.
We settled on a water taxi ride to Anchorage Bay and a 12.4 km (7.7 mile) walk back. We met our skipper at an office near the end of the highway and then boarded a boat to be pulled by tractor along the road to the beach.
Then the tractor pulled us across the wide floodplain and well into the water before launching us.
Before we headed north along the coast, we doubled back for a look at Split Apple Rock. It’s a popular destination for kayakers as well.
Bouncing past several golden-sand beaches, . . .
… we arrived at Anchorage.
Once our boat left us, and a few others disappeared…
. . . we had the place to ourselves.
Although tempted to stretch out on the sand, we thought we’d best get started on covering that 12.4 km.
The well-marked, well-maintained trail climbs from Anchorage Bay, and the view back more than compensates for the effort.
The “Astrolabe Roadstead” flows between the coast and Adele Island. The Marlbourgh Peninsula (our next destination) appears in the distance.
The roadstead is named after the ship of French explorer D’Urville, who arrived in 1827. (He had about 6 names, so I settled on the last one.)
The trail is literally built into the sides of the steep hills, following the narrow, deep, short valleys that cut into the mountains. Moving inland from the coast and back out again, we saw a repeating pattern of different mini-environments, often within a hundred yards of each other. The coastal growth is drier and more open.
Ferns and a taller canopy appear further inland. There, Roger learned there are some advantages to hearing loss. Only rarely could he hear the cicadas that were Kyanne’s constant companions when we hit underbrush. (The Maori word for cicadas is appropriate: kihikihi.)
Bridges here use the same intelligent technique we’ve seen elsewhere: wire fencing on the deck for traction.
Several side trails lead down to beaches. We looked for a short one and followed Lesson Creek to a lunch spot.
At least this time of year, waterfalls aren’t common, but Simonet Creek provided a photo opportunity.
About 2km from the end of the track we had the good fortune of arriving at sea level. A beach one step down from the trail seemed the right place for a break.
We’re told the golden sand beaches come from the soft granite hills. (We’d thought “granite”and “soft” were a contradiction.) For the record, here’s sand in the making:
One more view before we left the track.
The path back to the parking area showed another family out for a walk.