We moved into final trudge mode (all long hikes seem to end with the 'final trudge', n'est pas?) around 4pm. The Coast Track had come right down to the water's edge, hugging the huge tidal flats at Sandy Bay. In the distance, on the other side of the bay, we could see the houses and buildings of Marahau - our destination.
Caroline and I offered to walk ahead at a faster pace in the hopes of reaching the kayak rental facility, three-quarters of a kilometre beyond the trailhead, before everybody else reached the trailhead. By doing so, we could provide the convenience of a shorter hike and quicker access to a much-desired shower.
Power-walking along as quickly as we could, Caroline and I covered the last stretch to the trailhead. We continued right on by and onto the bike path parallelling Marahau's main road, and walked the extra 750 metres to reach the entrance to Abel Tasman Kayaks, shortly after 4:30pm. Hopping into one of the rental vans, we drove back up to the Abel Tasman Coast Track trailhead a few minutes after the remainder of our crew had arrived. Success!
Arriving at Rental Facility
We returned to Abel Tasman Kayaks and took advantage of their nice, hot, cleansing showers. I inspected my tender feet, which had developed blisters towards the end of the hike. Normally I don't get blisters from hiking in my water shoes, but usually I clean them out after making a water crossing, which, in my zeal to re-unite our two groups, I did not bother to do today.
After our showers, we packed up the vans and headed back south to Motueka, where we had a well-deserved pub dinner and discussed our next steps.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Abel Tasman Hike - click map to view
Abel Tasman Day 3 - Bark Bay to Marahau Trailhead
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet
Over dinner we discussed the next phase of our journey south. The first decision was whether or not we should overnight one last time in the Motueka area, or try and get some kilometres under our belt by driving south for a while tonight. Owing to the two-day delay of our Abel Tasman outing, our schedule was a bit tight, and whatever we could do to claw back some time would be useful.
I phoned around and found a roadside camp/cabin outfit that had room - even at this last minute - for us. It was located about three hours' drive south, a not insubstantial amount of distance that would ease the driving burden on us on the following day. So, we took them up on their offer, and began our evening drive south.
Motueka River Valley
The first part of our drive was along the Motueka Valley Highway. It was every bit an iconic New Zealand road drive: beautiful pastoral farmland, full of interesting landforms, hills, and low mountains. The road twisted through this beautiful scenery in just the right way, and a golden evening sun lit everything up in the most idyllic way possible.
The sun sank over the hills and the views faded as we headed south along state highway 6 towards the region known as Westland, passing through the historic gold mining district of Lyell. Although we couldn't see much in the fading light, it seemed like we were driving through a remote landscape of steeply wooded hills, with very few communities or signs of human habitation of any kind.
We pulled into the parking lot of a very quaint, very old fashioned set of roadside cabins shortly after 10pm. Tired from our long day, we didn't give anything too close of a look. Only the shared washroom, then the beds in our little cabins. Only they were deserving of attention right now.