There is so much to see and do in the Tasman region. Kayaking, canyoning, paddle boarding, skydives, hikes, beaches, blah blah blah. The place is riddled with enough activities to leave its tourists both exhausted and satisfied. And so, after reflecting on my last three months in the area, I began to think about what else I needed to tick off my local ‘to do’ list too.
I’ve ticked a few things off so far. Canyoning (obvs), skydiving, kayaking and the beaches. But with only two weeks left until we leave for our next destination I had been growing anxious at the prospect of hardly even touching the National Parks, and we’d bypassed the AT Coastal track completely. After considerable thought we decided that it was finally time to get our trek on.
Mt Arthur, found in the Kahurangi National Park (on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island), had been on our ‘to do’ list for a little while. It’s about a forty minute drive from Motueka, the last 15 minutes of which are up a graveled pathway that gradually becomes steeper and narrower (although the signs posted suggest you should take extreme caution but it wasn’t as bad as we were anticipating). We parked up at Flora car park and began our walk up towards the summit. We had been told the whole journey (up and down) would take around 6-8 hours, so of course it was a race against the clock to beat it.
The footpath was scenic, lined either side by native bush, and the track itself didn’t seem too steep. All was going well until, after about 40 minutes of walking we realised that Dave had forgotten the forks for our pasta lunch – the race against the clock swiftly moved from competitivity to a fear of hanger/starvation.
We hadn’t heard much about Mt Arthur prior to going, apart from that it’s a must do and everyone seemed to be giving it a go. Oh and that at present there was a potential norovirus infecting the huts there, so that was something to look forward to. We headed up, enjoying the bush and keeping an eye out for any animals (still desperate to spot a kiwi…but we settled for lots of Weka’s). It was a proper footpath, lined either side with bits of wood and had benches featured throughout the journey. It was looking like it was going to be a pretty straight forward walk, and after an hour and turned to Dave to say, ‘we must be nearly there now’. We weren’t. The path turned into less of a path and more of a…. barely marked out route of where to go. The footpath turned into rocks that you had to clamber up and over, and you had to keep an eye for blue poles for an indication of where the route would take you next. But as we got higher and higher, the views grew more and more impressive. From half way up you could see the whole of Motueka, the outline of the Abel Tasman, and the hills and mountains behind Nelson in the distance. The cloud line was high and the weather was cool. Luck was on our side today.
We stopped for a snack break of watermelon and ginger nut biscuits and allowed ourselves to regain our breath. I felt like a sixty year old smoker with Asthma and tiny lungs. I couldn’t breathe, my heart pounding in my chest. We were sheltered behind the rocks, protecting ourselves from the wind that was beginning to pick up, but I was still worried that we were going to be blown off of the mountain. Dave, as always, seemed far calmer and much more collected than I – thankfully.
We pushed on, ignoring the frustration and exhaustion that was sinking in. I just wanted to get up there, have a look, and get back down, but every step we took had to be thought out. Each movement had to be precise. We climbed and climbed, and before we knew it we were finally there. With 360 degree views we were surrounded by the Kahurangi National Park. It was so pretty, and worth every step on the way up.
And then we had the issue of getting down, which, frustratingly, was almost as difficult. Almost as soon as we started walking back down we realised that Dave’s knee was going to a bit of an issue. He was limping already and we still had a solid 2-3, downhill walk to get through. But we soldiered on, proud and sweaty, and delighted that we were way ahead of schedule. With sore feet, legs, knees and backs, we finally made it back to the car park. And in only 5 1/2 hours too! We tucked into the pasta, headed home and slept for the remainder of the evening (no you’re a party animal).
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track: Bark Bay to Marahau
One week later we were ready for another adventure. We’d been eyeing up the walk from Bark Bay to Marahau for ages – mostly because we didn’t fancy the idea of walking the entire AT Coastal Track – and Sarah was over to visit for the weekend, so it seemed like as good a time as any.
We took an early Aqua Taxi out to Bark Bay, going via Split Apple Rock (a ginormous rock that’s, funnily enough, split into two, and it’s awesome) and Adele Island to see the seal pups. We made it to Bark bay for 10am, and began the walk to Marahau. Again it was a race against the clock to beat the suggested walk time of 6-8 hours – so instead of taking in the views and bays and general gorgeousness, we ended up marching the entire track.
To sum the walk up in a few words, there were: lots of ascents, a bucketload of ‘hello-ing’ to oncomers, a number of rude encounters that nearly pushed us off of the edge of the
path, and frantic photography to take as many pictures as possible in the shortest amount of time. For a scenic and relaxing walk it was very busy, but we guessed that that’s just because of the time of year. The park is beautiful, with dozens of hidden bays and waterfalls and viewpoints. Unfortunately we were in a rush, not just because of our competitive desire to beat the suggested walking time, but there was rain due in the early afternoon and we didn’t fancy getting wet. But we did, and our anoraks did little to protect us from it.
We leaped back into our cars, soggy and satisfied, and drove home.
Mt Arthur – tick. Abel Tasman walk – tick. Whatever next?