Abel Tasman II: Nature Strikes Back

For those of you who have read my blog post titled Abel Tasman: Filming Dutchies in Their Sleep, I’d like to apologise for most of the things I said about Torrent Bay being the setting of a horror film and also spinning the truth like a politician. Before you judge me too harshly, please be aware that there’s a logical explanation for my behaviour… I was possessed… simultaneously by an anti-Kiwis Australian supernatural force and by Nixon. I’m sorry, I’m Latin American. Okay, okay, no such thing happened, I’m just special in a Voldemort-is-gone-come-out-of-the-cupboard kind of way.

Let’s pick the story up from where we left off.

Dawn was breaking over the horizon and shades of red spread over a deep dark blue sky from behind the mountains that bordered the perfectly circled bay. The rays of light played on the water of Torrent Bay like the sweetest melody. We caught a glimpse of some daring backpackers who took the opportunity of the low tide of the morning to march across the water and reach their destination faster.

We had breakfast on a table by the water with the most soothing view of the bay. With our feet on the sand, facing the tranquil sea which like a mirror reflected the mountain range that circled the bay, we were lost in a swoon of peace.

We continued our journey along Abel Tasman Coastal Track.

After walking in the middle of nowhere for a long time, we found a bar hidden in the bushes. Although it was closed, it felt like finally reaching civilisation after a shipwreck. I started to see things more clearly; if I had found a football, I would probably have also named it Wilson.

We continued our way to pick up our backpacks and found another bar on the way. There we were magically able to get online. You might remember from the last blog post that the last section of Abel Tasman – Tataranui – can be only reached when there is low tide. Although we had confirmed the times for low tide with that apathetic lady at the information centre, we checked online just to confirm the time. It is fortunate we checked since the information the lady gave us was wrong and there would only be low tide really late at night. Therefore, we decided that we wouldn’t continue hiking the next day but would have to take a water taxi back to where we parked our car, spend the night at a hostel in Tekaka and continue hiking Tataranui the following day.

After catching up with some German friends we had met at the hostel in Picton and whom I interviewed while Janneke and Julian laughed -these European kids can’t complain, I provided them with endless entertainment – we continued our way to Arrawarra campsite.

On we went over sandy hills and through ancient lush bush, until we reached a large path through the mountains. On either side, you could admire countless green deciduous trees that completely engulf the mountains.

It was so achingly beautiful, I had to pinch Janneke to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Although she told me that’s not how it works, I was reluctant to risk getting a bruise.

On our way, we crossed bridges, wandered around impressive headlands, encountered turquoise pristine beaches while hiking through the bush and even saw a manta ray swimming near the shore. We admired the sights of the land once the tide lowered, and escaped huge bees obsessed with being our companions.

Soon before we reached Arrawarra campsite, we were stopped by some children carrying beer (as I have mentioned on my blog post “How to get free booze.”) Once their parents gave us an encouraging look, two of the three bright blue-eyed children gave us two beers to each of us and the last one gave us marshmallows. I’m not going to lie, I was more excited about the marshmallows than the beers but everything was highly appreciated. The family told us they were about to leave Abel Tasman and they had to get rid of most of their food and drinks.

After getting lost a few times, we finally reached Arrawarra campsite. Abel Tasman enthralls your senses on every step of the way and Arrawarra was no exception.

The sunset at that campsite is a site that hypnotises and stays with you forever. As the sun hides behind the mountain range, the rays of light paint the clouds with different shades of yellow, orange, pink and purple. The reflection of this magical scene is mirrored on the still water below creating the most spectacular illusion. I watched perplexed as the sun hid behind the horizon and took pictures like there was no tomorrow. Another girl who was standing next to me doing the same showed me the picture she took and said: “Anybody who sees this photo might think I’m a professional photographer but there’s just no way to get bad photo out of this view.”

The sun fell, the land became dark, and since we had spent our time watching the sunset, we forgot to shower. We were informed that there was a shower we could use although it didn’t belong to the campsite but to the locals. We were naughty because we were dirty enough and we used it. It was an outdoor shower consisting of four wooden doors. The water was very cold, but after a day of sweating – sorry – it was more than welcome. While Janneke was taking a shower and I was waiting outside, a duck came in my direction. I tried to lead the duck towards the shower to scare Janneke out of her senses, but the duck ran away instead. It probably heard us talking about dinner. 

Then it was my turn to shower in the darkness. As I was showering, someone from the local campsite pointed a flashlight in my direction through the bushes. I jumped reflexively although I was showering with my clothes on because I have read about Edward Snowden and I’m paranoid like that.

To shower with my clothes on seemed like a good idea at the time but it proved to be a bit moronic once I tried to dry myself out. It just didn’t happen.

We had dinner in the dark. I used the light of my phone to see what I was eating. Julian persuaded us to buy some canned creamy rice. My sole question is who the hell eats that? Not that it’s just gross, it has no nutritional value. I ate it because I was hungry but Janneke simply skipped dinner that day. I was astonished we had been carrying something so gross. 

The issue with eating in Abel Tasman is that there is no way to cook your food unless you have a gas cooker. You also need to carry food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Those days we ate wraps with hummus and cucumber, cracker, fruits, nuts and tons of canned food.

The morning after we went to a beach to take the water taxi back to where we left the car. That day there were a lot of people stranded and they boarded the water taxi as if it was the way out of a deserted island, so we had to wait for it to come back for us. The boat was so full of people that it actually got stuck. Some people started pushing but nothing happened. Then Janneke encouraged us to help them out. Julian and I rushed to push the boat but then I turn around and Janneke was far away only giving us moral support.

Pushing the boat felt like pushing a rock. I suggested some people should disembark so we could move the boat but they didn’t listen to me until they tried a few times without any results. Once some people left the boat, it started running easily.

That night we slept in a Tekaka. You can read all about that experience in my blog post The Hippie Town of Tekaka.

Sleeping at a hostel proved to be the best decision we could have made. We had the chance to take a much needed shower, eat a proper meal and charge our electronic devices. We continued hiking the next day completely fresh. We were able to leave our stuff in the car since we were only hiking for the day and that was a great relief.

After crossing the threshold of an ocean of trees, we followed a trail that went uphills. This was by far the steepest and longest hill we had encountered so far. That day was also particularly hot. I cannot even imagine how hard it would have been if we had hiked this section with our backpacks, after sleeping on a yoga mat, and without a proper shower. In fact, we met our German friends and they complained how hard it was to hike carrying their backpacks. They had been kayaking for two days and hiking for two, but said they wished they had been kayaking for an extra day.

The reward came when we reached the peak. The view of the bays and the mountains was majestic. It made you feel gigantic and small at the same time, lost in the immensity of nature. Then the way down started and I slipped quite a few times – blame my running shoes. You need hiking shoes.


We hiked for six hours and really enjoyed our walk and all the beautiful scenery of rock formations and crescent-shaped coves of golden sand. And that is how we concluded our adventures in Abel Tasman, wandering along its impressive headlands and admiring its unique wildlife.

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