After two fun filled weeks with our parent tour group, we said goodbye to my parents and geared up to drive to Abel Tasman to complete the famous great walk. Doing a great walk while we lived in New Zealand was a goal of mine since we started planning our year adventure, but as I have mentioned in the past Tyler and I are not exactly avid hikers. We like going on a couple hour day hikes here and there but we had never done a actual backpacking trip together or anything longer than a one day hike. After doing some research on all 9 of the great walks, I thought Abel Tasman would be perfect being that it follows the coast and takes you through beautiful beaches, and is relatively flat for most of the 60 km. Perfect for newbie great walkers like ourselves, plus we get to be by the ocean the entire time. We also decided to stick to the brochure and do it in 5 days, so that way we would be walking about 4-6 hours a day and get the rest of the time to just enjoy the beaches.
Abel Tasman, for people who have never heard of it, is New Zealand’s smallest national park. It was established in 1942 and is located at the top of the South Island and is known for its beautiful blue water and golden sand crescent beaches. The great walk is known as the most popular walk in New Zealand, probably because of how flat the trail is combined with its beautiful beaches and easy accessibility. We were excited not only to have some beach time in between walking but also see some more of the Abel Tasman Coastline as we hiked farther into the park. The campsites, which you have to book ahead of time, were beautiful and very well maintained and were mostly right on deserted beaches, so once you set up camp you could flop down on the sand and take a nap or go swimming. We especially liked that each campsite we booked had a purified drinking water system so we didn’t need to use our water tablets, plus fire pits with provided fire wood to build fires each night.
Going To Do the Abel Tasman Great Walk? Here are 5 Things to Know:
1. Make sure you book your campsites ahead of time. The camp supervisors come around each night and check your confirmation (don’t forget to pack your confirmation email) and will charge you double if you do not pre book. They are pretty strict on this and we saw several people get caught.
2. Bring insect repellant, the sandflies are horrendous at Abel Tasman.
3. The larger campsites listed on the PDF Brochure will all have purified drinking water fountains so you do not need to bring water tablets. If you are staying at the smaller sites, they will not so make sure you fill up at the larger campsites before heading towards the smaller camps. Also the larger campsites as I mentioned all have fire pits with supplied wood, which is awesome.
4. The tides are extreme and there are two crossings to make at low tide. Anchorage to Bark Bay has a low tide and high tide crossing. If you can cross at low tide you will save yourself a lot of time. Awaroa to Whariwharangi Bay is strictly a low tide crossing and even at dead low tide you will mostly likely still have to remove your shoes to get across. Take this into account as our low tide crossing was at 6:30am, so we had to pack up in the dark and wade through freezing cold water in the dead of morning. It. was. freezing.
5. Jetboil’s are awesome. Get one and you wont be sorry as you will always have hot water within 60 seconds and its light and easy to carry. We met a german guy who had been eating cold soup for three days because it took too long to warm it up on the fire. Don’t be this german guy and invest in some type of water boiler. The great walk is supposed to be fun, eating cold soup makes it miserable. We only went through one canister of fuel the whole walk, but I would bring two just in case. Also a awesome thing to have is a pack of Icy Hot patches to put on sore muscles at the end of the day.