There’s just an up and over at Wainui Hill, the highest of the Coastal Track, and then, finito.

I warmed up by doing a full lap of Whariwharangi Beach, then traded memories with the resident hut warden, Karen, of our experiences on initial visits, I recall a few rogue sheep, they had been allegedly removed in 1972, when the farmland was incorporated into the park, also the hills mostly grassy back then, a smattering of gorse. I had biked over the Takaka Hill with a friend, I think I was the one with the Sturmey Archer three-speed, Gerald on a fully gearless bike with the old pedal brake, speeds close to 80 kph may have been reached as we dropped down to the now non-existent Rattrap Hotel, name hugely emblazoned on the roof, clearly visible from up top, the safety fence is still just a couple of strands of Number 8 wire. Getting to Wainui roadend back then was a task, we abandoned the bikes at Tata Beach and crossed Wainui Inlet on foot, tide a very low ebb, gorse much more prominent on the hills, seems it’s finally been, mostly, overshadowed by the mahoe. Back then the old and tiny homestead at Mutton Cove was extant, wide timber boards lining the interior walls then wallpapered with interesting parts from the Illustrated London Weekly Times, photos of various royalty wearing strange hats with full banana peels, maybe, I’m making this up, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York royal tour, mostly great historical reading, not making that up, but now only the crumbling chimney remains, deep in the regenerating forest, I couldn’t recall its precise location this time around although I followed some sort of track into the gorse.

Today I had plenty of time to pop over Wainui Hill, so spent some time chatting to a Melbourne gal with eyes the colour of yesterday’s perfectly swimmable water. On reaching the car park, after turning down an offered ride, I was waiting for the bus, that’s a terrific innovation out here, but later realising my only timepiece was on the camera, and I had changed it to daylight saving time, was I an hour early, or an hour late, but as it turned out the bus had been kept waiting by a slow boat at Totaranui, the captain decided to look at seals rather than make that bus connection on schedule, eventually the bus pulled up, 20 schoolkids piled out enthusiastically and I the lone passenger to Takaka.

The Abel Tasman is Big Industry now, tourism-wise, and why not, the scenery is outstanding, the beaches, actually everything, is pristine, no rubbish was sighted which is remarkable for such a heavy used track, 150 people a day, mostly daywalkers, wow, that’s in November, a total of 30,000 people a year come through in one way or other. Peak season is imminent where all hut bunks and tent spaces are fully booked. The track surface just deserves mention, it is outstanding, mostly fine gravel, sand and hard clay, capable of taking the heavy traffic although you could walk with your Zimmer frame, the only thing missing is the white dashes down the middle.

The Abel Tasman really is a Great Walk.

← Day 5 | Whariwharangi campsite: speeding through the northern section