As mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to do a walk in Abel Tasman Park for charity, for Christchurch, but I didn’t have enough time to get sponsorship. But I did the walk anyway. The Department of Conservation told me that Friday was the best day to do it. The weather was supposed to be great, so better all round for walking in the National Park.
Well Friday came and I got picked up by bus at 7.15am. The weather couldn’t have been better. It took us two hours to get to Marahau, the base for the Aqua taxis. Basically what happens is, that you can walk from Marahau right up to Totaranui, the top of the park. There are aqua taxis which take you to different parts of the bay and drop you off at the start of the walking tracks and take you back when you’re finished.
So I decided to do a four and a half hour walk from Tonga Bay to Torrent Bay. I got the aqua taxi from Marahau to Tonga Bay and walked to Torrent Bay with a Scottish/English couple. Marahau means “windy gardens” in Maori. Years ago, in Marahau, tobacco was the biggest industry there, hence the name “gardens” and “windy” comes from the strong winds at high tide. Now the ride on the aqua taxi from Marahau was fairly smooth between Marahau to Bark Bay but God, it was a rough ride for the last part of it. Anyone with a bad back wouldn’t have found it easy. When we were skimming over the waves, there were quite a few times where we’d land flat on the water and it was bang, bang, bang every few seconds. My internal organs ended up in my throat several times!
As soon as we got out into the bay, we were taken to see this rock formation called the Split Apple Rock. It’s a ball shaped rock that’s literally split in two. At this time of the morning, it was low tide, so a good time to see it. When the tide is in and the water levels increase by four to five metres, a kayak can pass through the opening. Now that would be interesting to see.
The track was well maintained and we were walking on hard, orange clay. But there were some steep uphill and downhill parts and it was hard going. For the first two hours, the track hugged the coastline and we were rewarded with glorious views. We stopped for lunch for half an hour, at Medlands Camp, a place on the beach, with a green lagoon beside it. Now it was good for me to stop for lunch to rest the legs but the sand flies were having lunch on me! I had put on a lot of insect repellent beforehand but they’re persistent little buggers and they were having a party with my skin.
We carried on and the second half of the track was in closed forest for most of the way. Parts of the track went through sun dappled green glades and over bridges with fountains running underneath. The sound of the cicadas in the bushes was nearly deafening. They’re large insects that develop on the roots of trees and shrubs and sound like a louder version of the cricket. It was a real strain to hear yourself talking.
It was an idyllic paradise, with golden coloured beaches, sand spits weaving their way through the beautiful blue/green water and thick forest vegetation to cap it all. The weather was fantastic and the blue skies just added to the picture postcard views. We did the walk in four hours which wasn’t bad going and finished on Torrent Bay beach, to wait for the aqua taxis to pick us up. My legs were falling off me by that time and I was wrecked. The tide was going out at 4.30pm, when the aqua taxis were about to leave. The three aqua taxis who were bringing the groups back to Marahau nearly got stuck on the beach and the heavy swell wasn’t helping. It was pushing the boats back in towards the beach. So all three taxis had to get four or five guys to push the boats out into deeper water. That was funny to watch. But the whole experience was great. It was the first proper tramp that I did.