Preliminaries | Abel Tasman Coastal Track, November 2013

The fifth ferry trip across Cook Strait in recent months, and, well, you can have way too much of a good thing.

This voyage on the largest of the ferries, most modern, the major on-board entertainment is a stray group of blokes clad in frocks, that’s the way to encourage joviality amongst strangers travelling together.

The approach to Nelson, hail and a torrential downpour, then suddenly that not-a-cloud sky and I’m standing in Trafalgar Street thinking, wow, next time I land here I’ll be calling this town Home, without telling tall stories.

It’s the start of my, umm, Early Summer Southern Tour, gathering raw material for my tramping.net.nz website, this time not rambling remotely I’ll be stomping around some more popular tracks, starting with New Zealand’s most frequented, the Abel Tasman, and then the Heaphy, carrying a tent, I’m not being disturbed by others snoring in the more utilised huts.

I’m hoping this more recent brand of weather maintains.

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Day 1 | Te Puketea Bay campsite: nestled near that fabulous beach

Coastal Track, Abel Tasman National Park

If you want solitude then the Abel Tasman isn’t the place to find it, there’s a more than occasional boat with its buzzing motor bumping, hacking, its way across the choppy sea, small planes and helicopters overhead, the beaches with lunch munching day-trippers, or gals clad in those cute rubber skirts indicating they are at times attached to one of those bright yellow kayaks, blokes as well but I guess I wasn’t looking so much at them.

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Day 2 | Te Puketea Bay again: when you know it's Paradise, why rush?

Coastal Track, Abel Tasman National Park 2

And up with that big Pitt Head view, a couple of gannets cruise past, gee, they are rather big and with great colours, almost close enough to touch, I almost thought I could make out the smile on the trailing bird.

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Day 3 | Tonga Quarry campsite: about time for some full-on dampness

Coastal Track, Abel Tasman National Park 3

The view from the beach is over to the east, the rising sun, not apparent behind the typically dense clouds of Aotearoa, but some rays break through, illuminating showers far the distance, you look over to the Nelson side of the Marlborough sounds, it’s actually remarkably apocalyptic, like on one of those florid 1970s posters announcing imminent Armageddon.

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Day 4 | Waiharakeke Bay campsite: more Germans, that's OK

Coastal Track, Abel Tasman National Park 4

As it turned out the river crossing wasn’t so bad, I did the circumlocutory route, ie, less than knee deep, the others A to B with the predictable consequences, a lot of shouting and laughing, depending on their height.

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Day 5 | Whariwharangi campsite: speeding through the northern section

Mutton Cove and Separation Point | Coastal Track, Abel Tasman National Park

For some reason all this Paradise is too much to take in, maybe I prefer to share the experience, ie, perfection, with someone else, someone special, so I decide on another hill climb over to Whariwharangi, another plod up another hill.

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Day 6 | Kiwiana, Takaka: out to civilisation

wekas, Whariwharangi campground, Abel Tasman National Park

The Abel Tasman is Big Industry now, tourism-wise, and why not, the scenery is outstanding, the beaches, actually everything, is pristine, no rubbish was sighted which is remarkable for such a heavy used track, 150 people a day, mostly daywalkers, wow, that’s in November, a total of 30,000 people a year come through in one way or other.