While thousands walked, kayaked and camped around the Abel Tasman coast this summer, Kathy Ombler found solitude and serenading bellbirds on the park’s Inland Track
Take a tent, they said. Abel Tasman is so busy at this time of year.
Not on the Inland Track. Two nights, three days, and not a (human) soul was to be seen. In mid-January. Just the ubiquitous weka welcomes at the huts, and the cacophony of bellbirds that serenaded me along hot, dry Evans Ridge on the ‘roof’ of the park, perhaps recognising that encouragement was needed to manoeuvre this solitary, sweating human to safe refuge.
Because I did take a tent, along with copious foodie treats for this ‘holiday’ in the park, and my pack was too heavy for my fitness at the time, especially in the unforgiving heat.
It was a beautiful walk though.
Initially I’d planned it for winter; when snow and ice thwart access to other, higher places. Such are my planning skills, however, here I was in mid-summer, lumbering off from Marahau on the coast track to Tinline Bay, along with day trippers and ‘Great Walkers’, of all nationalities, ages and sizes. The mother with a very grumpy four year old in tow, heading to Anchorage, told him he should be happy because he wasn’t carrying a big pack like mine. Sorry grumpy boy.
Then I turned uphill, heading to Castle Rocks Hut, and it was just me. The track was steadily benched and climbed through regenerating forest, both relics from early farming attempts here. Views unfolded, of Marahau, Motuareronui/Adele Island, kayaks and water taxis buzzing frenetically in all directions and that water looking so good, so far away.
Two hours before the hut, I puffed into Holyoake Clearing, and resisted the temptation to stop overnight in the cute little two bunk shelter overlooking Nelson Bay. Pushing on, it was a happy discovery that most of the climbing was now done. Also the bush changed, from regenerating manuka to mature beech, mixed with big (and shady) rimu and miro.