Abel Tasman Coastal Track Day 3- Bark Bay to Awaroa Bay

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I started early again the third day, not because I had to meet some tidal timeline, but just because I woke up early and had nothing else to do. I would rather complete my daily hike early and relax at the hut rather than start late. Plus again, starting early means the weather is still cool and I have most of the track to myself.

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The tracks went up hills and down hills in the forest, and I don’t know if the hills were steeper that day, but I was definitely feeling it more. My daily walk was 11.5 kilometers and it took me about four hours. Finally, the track turned to actual beach walking for part of the way. There was a 1 kilometer stretch along Onetahuti Beach, and the last 20 minutes along Awaroa Inlet to the hut.

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I was the first one to arrive at the hut again, and this hut had the water right in its front yard. However, this hut only had the big open bunks with seven mattresses side by side. But at least I was able to stake out a wall to myself, so I was only sleeping next to one stranger, rather than two. I relaxed with lunch and a nap, and I was still on my own during early afternoon.

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Awaroa Hut is right on the edge of Awaroa Inlet, and it was here that the tidal differences in Abel Tasman National Park are the most starkly evident. At high tide, the entire beach is covered in water and most of the path along the beach was under water. However, at low tide, you could walk across the entire inlet (though your feet will still get wet, because the inlet is never entirely free of water).

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It was also fascinating how much the wind affected the temperatures. It was sunny and warm all mornings, but the previous two days were a bit cloudy, and rainy at times, and substantially cooler. Like need a fleece jacket cooler. And unless it was sunny all day, the water was too cool to swim in (for me anyway).

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Because I had the entire rest of the day to myself, I decided to make my way to Awaroa Lodge. It was only a 20 minute walk from the hut to the lodge, but it required me to cross the Venture Creek tidal flat, which could only crossed three hours on each side of low tide, unless you wanted to swim across that is.

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Over there is a HUGE, soft white sand crescent-shaped beach, which was in stark contrast to the nonexistent beach in front of the hut. The water was still too cold for me, but I just sat on the beach in the warm sun listening to the soothing sounds of the wind and the waves as I took in the gorgeous scene around me.

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I capped off the day with an absolutely delicious dinner and wine at the Awaroa Lodge. When I heard that the lodge served actual meals, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to eat a real, cooked meal. I had eaten trail food for the previous three days. I elected not to bring a stove, so everything I ate was cold and didn’t require cooking.  So I treated myself to a fantastic cup of sea chowder and bacon-wrapped chicken with cranberry stuffing. It was like ambrosia to the tongue and I savored every bit.

Abel Tasman Coastal Track Day 2- Anchorage to Bark Bay

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This morning , the second day of hiking, was even earlier for me than normal. It’s funny that when I am at home on normal weekends, I often like to sleep in. But on vacations, I am usually up early to take advantage of the day. Of course it is also easier, because I tend to fall asleep earlier, because I don’t go out and party. And since there was no electricity or Internet at the Anchorage hut (or any of the Department of Conservation huts for that matter), and I was hiking alone, I was down for the count by 2100 to get a full night’s rest.

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I woke up at 0530, shortly after sunrise. In fact the moon and the sun were out at the same time. This morning was earlier than normal, because I wanted to use the low tide track across Torrent Bay to shave off 3 kilometers or one hour of walking. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but my foot was still hurting from the previous day’s blister, and my body was still getting used to carrying a multi-day pack. The day’s walk was only 9.5 kilometers, which equated to only three hours of walking. But I needed to be across the bay by 0730 before the tide rose too high for me, since I could only use the low tide track two hours on either side of low tide, and I had to take the all tidal track.

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So away I went, and it was an excellent decision. It was the first time to walk across a tidal track at low tide. I crossed Torrent Bay by following the orange disks which mark the trail in places like beaches and tidal flats when the trail isn’t obvious. But most of all, the reason my early start was a good one, was because I had the track nearly entirely to myself. Most people were still sleeping when I started walking. In fact, I only saw one other person on the track until I had nearly completed my day’s walk. It was awesome to practically have the park to myself, and enjoy the beautiful nature in peace and solitude.

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The track wended its way up and down hills and across the river. Most of the time I walked in lush, beautiful coastal forest, but every so often, the trail would open up to spectacular vistas of the sun, sea, and gorgeous coastline.

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I set out so early that I arrived at my destination shortly after 0900. In fact, I couldn’t even occupy a bunk, because the previous night’s occupants were still there having breakfast and hadn’t left yet. Another advantage of being so early was getting to pick my bed. This hut had three rooms for bunks. Two of them had space for 14 bunks, but the upper and lower bunks were wide open where all seven mattresses were pressed up against each other. A room tucked in the back had six separate bunk beds, and since I didn’t want to sleep next to a stranger if I didn’t have to, I snagged one of the individual beds.

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All I had to do all day was relax on a beautiful beach, read a book and be lost in thought. I had hoped to go swimming, but it was too cold that day. The day started out sunny and warm, but turned gray and rainy and chilly by early afternoon. That gave me an excuse to curl up with a good book (I even managed to finish the book that day).

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Later in the evening, the rain stopped and I made my way down to the beach and marveled just how different it looked at low tide. It was very peaceful to watch the waves crash gently on the beach, the tidal force inexorably drawing the waves higher and higher as the tide slowly rolled in.

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I could close my eyes and just hear the wind, the sea, and the occasional bird call, but no human beings. It was just me and nature.

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