Abel Tasman National Park is Big Business now.
Pay your $20 and you can catch a bus from downtown Nelson right to the start of the Coastal Track at Marahau. Plenty of bodies aboard, all close-cropped hair and beards, the blokes, and neat ponytails for the females of the species. Probably 200 enthusiasts for one of the various boat trips on offer at Kaiteri, standing around in clumps overlooking the beach, staring at their phones, all anticipation, but not quite sure about what was going on.
I remained on the bus till the end of the line, along with the other trekkers, but I wasn’t in any hurry. I knew that pack was heavy, I’d been buying up food when it was cheap at the supermarket in the previous weeks, and came to the conclusion that while I could have bought much of it in Takaka, or posted a large lump there, I might as well just lug it over the hill as training for what was to come.
I wasn’t thinking too much about the 1000 m climb that peels off not far from the start of the rather less inclined Coastal Trail.
Unlike last year when I did a modicum of training with a strenuous five days up Mt Richmond in behind Nelson, this year it had just been late nights, a lack of exercise in general, and excessive food intake. At least by postponing my departure for a day I’d avoided 10 mm of drizzle, the clouds were scudding past and there were occasional drops but eventually it more or less cleared up.
It was looking great for the next few days. Well, other than that 1000 m to climb.