New Zealand is famous for its tramping (hiking) and have 9 Great Walks which are the premier tracks around the country offering diverse landscapes and breathtaking views. The Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of the Great Walks which was the first on our list as it was just a few hours from Picton.

Since the Abel Tasman track is linear (as opposed to a loop), you need to arrange transportation (or have a 2nd car) to get you between the start and finish. We decided to arrange a water taxi from our campsite near the end of the track to the start of the track so we wouldn’t be rushed to meet the boat at the end of our journey. We were able to catch the sunrise on the beautiful orange sand beach which looked even more amazing than the night before.

The earliest time we could schedule a pick-up was 11am, so were able to take our time in the morning and get in a quick hike in around our campsite. This track is coastal, therefore you really need to time it right with the tides as many sections have shortcuts or even a single crossing area that can only be crossed at low tide! We experienced our first tidal crossing trying to make it over to the Headland track which resulted in us changing into shorts and sandals before going further. Even after only a quick hike in we saw some spectacular views of the orange sand beach with its teal blue water.

View of our orange beach campsite 

With our packs on our backs, we headed to the beach to meet our water taxi. After seeing three boats pass without stopping, and it rounding 11:30am, I started to get worried they forgot our reservation. I managed to call the Taxi service from a pay phone at the campsite – apparently they had ‘lost’ their skipper but assured me he was on his way.

Waiting for our water taxi 

At this point I was getting pretty nervous as I knew we had a tight schedule in order to make the tides and chase sundown to get to our campsite. As usual, Jordan, the eternal optimist was cool as a cucumber chilling on the beach saying “don’t worry, it’ll come”. Luckily a few minutes later the skipper pulled up and we were on our way, making a quick stop to see a small seal colony along the way!

As we set out on our journey, our plan for the day was to start at Marahau and make our way to Torrent Bay to camp – an estimated 5.5hr hike. With a warm sunny day we were ready for the challenge. The track has beautiful coastal views of the lush forests with teal colored water and perfectly sandy beaches. Kiwi’s really know how to do it right here. The tracks were beautifully maintained with paths carved out of the mountain, bridges over waterfalls and water traps to keep the walkways from being washed away in the rain.

Beautiful coastal views along the track 
Jordan and I excited for our journey ahead! 

We were lucky enough to hit the tidal crossing just before our campsite at low tide, so were able to cut an hour off our trek and make our way across the sand flats just before sunset. After a long day of hiking my feet were KILLING me! The freezing cold water was soothing and just what I needed to finish off the day.

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Tidal crossing along the sand flats to our campsite on the other side

As we setup our tent, we were the only ones around, making it nice and private, yet a little creepy. Fitted with water, picnic tables and toilets we were well equipment for a nice evening along the beach.

Our secluded camp site on Torrent Bay 
Day 2 of our trek was ambitious to say the least. With a plan to do 21km and hit the Awaroa site, I estimated it would take us about 7hrs (most people hike only 4hrs a day). Starting out we were already sore from the day before and with the gigantic hill to start our journey it didn’t take long for the fatigue to set in. The views were still spectacular though so it kept us going.
After about 4 hrs we stopped at Tonga Quarry for a quick lunch and a foot break. The hot soup was soothing on the cool cloudy day. Despite already being sore beyond belief, we decided to push on to our destination. Along the way we crossed a cool hanging bridge over a waterfall with a nice view of the beach in the distance.
Swing bridge across a beautiful waterfall 

Shortly after the lunch site was another (FREEZING) tidal crossing where we met Ryan, a 19 year old from Virginia backpacking his way across NZ on a year long trip around the world. Later we found out we were the Guinean pigs as we were the first to brave the crossing.

Visibly happy to be across the freezing ocean water 

After another 4 hrs we finally hit our last tidal crossing for the day – one that would prove to be the longest km of my life. Barely able to walk, I slowly made my way across the sand flats struggling to hold myself together. We had initially planned to camp at the Awaroa site but after a very long day, I opted we stay in the comfort of the warm, dry hut.

Awaroa hut 

The facilities at the huts were luxury camping at its best. Communal bunk beds with mattresses, inside kitchen area for cooking with a warm fire burning around the wood picnic tables. Outside flush toilets, showers and washing station make Canada’s camp sites look pretty minimal. Considering it ended up raining all night we were happy to be in the comfort of the hut, despite the group of 12 highschool students in the next room. We met up again with our friend Ryan who was also staying at the hut, and after chatting some more for a bit, offered him a ride the next day back to Nelson, a neighboring town.

Day 3 of our journey started with another tidal crossing that proved to be the longest and deepest despite just missing high tide. In the pouring rain and high winds we made our way across the sand flats, looking forward to the shelter of the forest track just ahead.

Making the long journey across the sand flats in the pouring rain

Despite the pouring rain, this section of the trail had the most beach walks (that didn’t require taking off our boots) which was a nice change.

Lovely coastal tracks along the beach 

The last part of the journey was only 2.5hrs but after the last 2 days we were happy to see our campsite at Totraunui again. Completing our 42km journey and our first Great Walk in less than 48hrs was an quite the accomplishment!

Celebrating our finish

The profile below gives you an idea of how much up-and-down the track entailed!


Check out Episode 11: Abel Tasman Coast Track.