Showing posts with label Abel Tasman Coastal Track. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abel Tasman Coastal Track. Show all posts

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Whariwharangi Hut, Abel Tasman NP, 27-28th October 2019

A northern excursion...Abel Tasman National Park style...


My latest trip was a return to Abel Tasman National Park, this time it was an excursion into the northern end of the park from Totaranui to Whariwharerangi Bay. The northern end of Abel Tasman National park is less popular with the majority of visitors to the park staying south of Totaranui. It has far less trampers and seems a lot quieter than the more popular section from Totaranui to Marahau.


Golden sandy beaches at Anapai Bay, Abel Tasman NP

My object was the hut at Whariwharangi Bay..this is a farmhouse from the early 190's which has been reconditioned so it can be used as a back-country hut. The hut has a very turn of the century feel to it but still provides a pleasant nights accommodation for its visitors.

This is surely one of the most iconic back-country huts in the country and often features in pictures in books and magazine articles about tramping and backcountry huts in New Zealand. 



The iconic Whariwharangi Hut, Abel Tasman NP

 I had perfect weather for this trip with two days of beautiful sunshine and the only rain was while I was safely ensconced in the hut. It was a bit windy which made for the roughest water-taxi trip I have ever been on but apart from that the conditions could not be faulted.



Enjoying a brew at the Totaranui Campgrounds, Abel Tasman NP

This was an 'in and out' trip...I walked to Whariwharangi Hut from Totaranui and then followed the same route back to Totaranui the next day. There was a water-taxi ride at both ends of the trip as my start/finish point was Marahau in both instances. 


Marahau to Totaranui Campgrounds

As usual I left from Marahau...this is my seventh trip to Abel Tasman National Park and I always park my car at Marahau and catch the Aquataxi north to whatever spot I'm starting at. As usual this was the campground at Totaranui at the northern end of the park.


Abel Tasman NP as seen from the Marahau waterfront

..High tide at the estuary at Marahau......

It was full tide so we launched right from the boat ramp...in fact it was VERY high tide, the water was lapping up around the bottom of the dock which is something I have never seen before. They had a King tide over the weekend so the water was higher than normal...The boat I was on was named Kotuko which is a type of Heron...all the boats have Maori names...mostly birds or aquatic animals...


Marahau recedes as we motor away from the slips...

..the Abel Tasman Inland Track follows the crest of these ridges....

As usual the water-taxi took us around to Split Apple Rock for some photos...surprisingly we also picked someone up from the beach there. There is a very swish looking holiday lodge up in the bush...we picked up a couple from Argentina who were heading for Bark Bay up the coast. 


Split Apple Rock, Abel Tasman National Park


The very splendid and fancified eco-lodge at Split Apple Bay

Shag colony on the cliffs at Split Apple Bay...real high tide!!!

We didn't stop at Adele Island this time..instead we did a full circuit around Tonga Island after we dropped the Argentinian couple off at Bark Bay...piles of seals on the rocks around the island. There were also 10-12 yachts moored in the lee of the island as the ocean swell was huge. 


Seals laze in the sun on Adele Island, Abel Tasman Marine Reserve

We also stopped at Shag Harbour just past Onetahuaiti Beach...this is a long but very shallow cove that is normally only accessible to sea kayaks but the tide was so high our much larger boat could get in there. The water is very shallow..1-2 meters deep at most and is a favored haunt of seals in rough weather.

There was a male seal there very lazily swimming around on his back...no worries....no cares in the world....Global warming...Meh, AI taking over the world...Meh, Brexit...Meh, ...Donald Trump...Meh....

He didn't give a hoot...what a total bastid!!!


The boat heads into Shag Harbour, Abel Tasman National Park

....very shallow water in Shag Harbour.....

Tidal estuary at Shag Harbour, Abel Tasman National Park

A male seal lazing in the water, Shag Harbour, Abel Tasman National Park

...dense bush surrounds Shag Harbour, Abel Tasman National Park

The sea voyage had been OK up to this point but once we headed a bit further out to sea to continue north it got rough. Normally this is a very calm journey but not on this day. There was a big swell (4-5 meters) coming in off the Tasman Sea and strong winds...there were even white caps on the top of the swell. The boat was pounding into the waves and we could only make very slow forward speed. 

It was the roughest passage I have ever had along this coastline and at one point I heard the skipper on the radio telling Marahau to not send any more boats past Tonga Island. I think we were lucky that our trip was not cancelled or postponed it must have been right on the edge of the safety margin.

We eventually made it to Totaranui but we were 20 odd minutes late due to the conditions...


Totaranui beach looking south towards Skinner Point

...my chariot to the splendors of Abel Tasman NP...Kotuko...

Totaranui beach looking north towards Totaranui Headlands

It was good to get ashore after the rough sea passage and I even managed to get onto the beach with dry boots for a change...


Totaranui to Wharwharangi Hut via Anapai + Mutton Cove

I got myself off the beach and up to the DOC office and visitors center and sorted out my gear. There were a lot of people milling about as both of the 11 am water-taxis were picking up people who had walked off the southern half of the track. The campground also had a lot of folk in it...long weekends also get people in the mood for some holiday camping fun.


The DOC office and visitors center at Totaranui

I more or less set off straight away...I wanted to get as far along the coastal track as possible as there was a threat of rain in the early afternoon. I was the only person from both boats who started walking north...everyone else was heading south to Marahau. That is about how it goes...the northern part of the park is a lot less popular than the southern end.


DOC map of the northern part of Abel Tasman NP at Totaranui

The track north is signposted from the DOC office and starts out on the access road coming into the campgrounds. It changes into a real tramping track just past Ngarata Homestead. You head this way for the Inland Track, Gibbs Hill, Whariwharangi Bay and the northern beaches. This is also the start of the 36 km long gravel road to Takaka at the northern edge of the park. 


Map: Northern section of Abel Tasman National Park

The start of the walk to Whariwharangi Hut......Totaranui access road...

The road junction to Gibbs Hill/Whariwharangi etc.

Access road to Takaka and civilisation...36 km of winding gravel ....

You turn off the main road and head north past Ngarata Homestead......just follow the DOC signs...



Three hours to Whariwharangi Hut from the start of the track

...on the road to Ngarata Homestead, Abel Tasman National Park

Start of the northern end of the Abel Tasman Coastal track

Start of the northern end of the Abel Tasman Coastal track

The first part of the track skirts the tidal estuary to the north west of Totaranui Beach, it then climbs up and over a headland to Anapai Bay and the first of the northern campsites in the park. Each of the sections of this track feature a climb over a headland from one beach to the next, each is approximately one hour in duration. Three bays equals three hours walking...


On the northern half of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Totaranui estuary and the Headland, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Grass plains on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The turn off for Gibbs Hill and the Inland Track is about 20 minutes walk from Totaranui...the Inland Track is a 3-4 day trip along a rough as guts tramping route in the interior of Abel Tasman National Park. This is a real tramping track..remote, overgrown, lots of hills and gets about .1% of the traffic the coastal track receives.

You can also access Whariwharangi Bay via Gibbs Hill so a circuit tramp in the northern part of the park is a possibility if you don't mind climbing a couple of hills....


Abel Tasman Coastal Track: turn off to Gibbs Hill and Inland Track

The climb over the first headland starts on the far side of Totaranui Estuary...from here it takes just over an hour to get to the beach and campsite at Anapai Bay. There is also a walk along the headland but I have heard that the views are mostly blocked by mature trees so it is kind of defunct unless you like walking...

If the tide is low when you get to Totaranui there is a tidal crossing direct from the beach to the start of the climb so consider this as an option if it appeals. 


At the low tide track from Totaranui to Anapai, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Start of the climb to Anapai Bay from Totaranui

View of Totaranui from the track to Anapai Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

The turn off for the no name Headland Track is about ten minutes into the hill climb...you can follow this track up and over the Headland and right down to Anapai Bay. 

Abel Tasman Coastal Track: near the turn of to the Headland Track, Totaranui, 


...start of the descent to Anapai Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The forest is interesting up here.it is a semi tropical type of flora so it is thick and filled with exotic plants. I saw Nikau Palms, epiphytes, flowers, vines, ferns and other sub tropical plants you only get along the upper north western section of the South Island


Epiphyte growing on a Matai tree, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The number of people visiting the northern part of the national park is minuscule compared to the Coastal Track. I saw a grand total of seven people on the track on the Sunday and maybe twice this number on the Monday...for much of the time I felt like I was the only person out walking the track. 


....this is busy on the northern end of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track.....two people!!!!

....beautiful benched track predominates...Abel Tasman Coastal Track...

Manuka growing in an old homestead area...Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The track quality is excellent right up to the hut door...the track is wide, well maintained, level and easy to walk along. I had my boots on but everyone else was wearing trail shoes. This is one of those rare Kiwi tracks that can be walked in your running shoes.....



First view of the beach at Anapai Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

...last small descent to Anapai Bay...

I popped out onto Anapai Bay after slightly more than an hours tramping...the wind was blowing but it was lovely and warm walking along the beach. The campsite is roughly half way along the beach and is marked by a large orange triangle but strangely there is no campsite sign here....


Arrival at Anapai Bay...Abel Tasman National Park

Anapai Bay...looking south to the Headland...

View to north along Anapai Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

Entrance to the campsite at Anapai Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

I stopped for a ten minute break at Anapai Bay for a snack and a drink and then continued on my way. The campsite looked nice...it is tucked away in the bush at the back of the beach and has a number of protected tent sites as well as picnic tables, a water source and toilets. 


Back on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track from Anapai Bay to Mutton Cove

...built up track in stream bed, Anapai Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

This section of track is a series of switch backs which slowly climb to the top of the ridge. The area is susceptible to weather events...an ex tropical cyclone drenched this area in late 2016 and caused extensive damage to the tracks especially around Anapai Bay. I saw several places along here where the tracks have been repaired...


Climbing out of Anapai Bay on way to Mutton Cove

...repaired track on the way to Mutton cove, Abel Tasman National Park

Thick almost tropical bush along the Abel Tasman coastal Track


....some parts of the Coastal Track are open to the sun....

There is an excellent view of Anapai Bay from a viewpoint about 20 minutes into this section of track. The contrast of the blue ocean, golden sand and various green of the forest makes for note worthy photographs. 


Looking down onto Anapai Bay from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The track is a slow steady climb to an apex point on the ridge and then a slow descent to the beach at Mutton Cove. 


...track cut through rock...north of Anapai Bay...

Apex of the track from Anapai Bay to Mutton Cove


...last view of Anapai Bay for the day...


At the apex of the track between Anapai Bay and Mutton cove, Abel Tasman National Park

There are occasional views out to the Tasman Sea from along the track...you could see how rough it was even from the top of the hills I was crossing. The wind was strong but thanks to the enveloping bush it was no more than a nuisance.....

Looking out on the Tasman Sea, Abel Tasman National Park

There are half a dozen bridges along the track, mostly crossing deeply cut stream beds....this area often has high rainfall as it gets hit by all of the bad weather being funnelled through Cook Strait. During a big storm the side streams occasional get so high that the cannot be crossed without a bridge.  


First of several bridges north of Totaranui, Abel Tasman National Park

...closer view of the first bridge north of Anapai Bay

Eventually Separation Point & Mutton Bay hove into view it was another 20 minute walk down to the exit of the track onto the beach. The sea is much calmer in these little bays as the headlands block the prevailing wind from the north west. 


View down to Anatakapau Bay & Mutton Cove from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

I saw my first Weka two hours into the tramp..they are wide spread in the Abel Tasman area. He was going about his business looking for food in the bush just off the track. The American couple I had been walking behind asked me if it was a Kiwi so I explained the difference to them...short arrow head beak=Weka, long narrow beak=Kiwi. 

I love Weka...they are thieving buggers but they have a lot of charm...one of my favorite native birds. 


Abel Tasman National Park: first Weka of the trip...more to follow...

Oddly placed Nikau Palm, Mutton Cove

I was deposited onto the beach at Mutton Cove after walking just over an hour from Anapai Bay...all of these beaches have the same golden sand as those further south and both Anapai and Mutton Cove looked like excellent spots to camp. 

I could easily see myself camping here..swimming during the day...gathering mussels from the nearby rocks for a meal...bit of laying in the sun....magic!!!

Separation Point from Anatakapau Bay, Abel Tasman National Park


View south along Anatakapau Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

So here is a sign that says this is Mutton Cove but actually if you look at the topomap for the area it is Anatakapau Bay. There is a small rocky headland between the two bays but as the campsite is located here they just call all of it Mutton Cove. 



It says Mutton Cove but actually......Anatakapau Bay


Mutton Cove campsite, Abel Tasman National Park

Another Weka at the Mutton Cove campsite, Abel Tasman National Park


Fireplace and picnic tables at Mutton Cove campsite, Abel Tasman National Park

I stopped at Mutton Cove for lunch...some rolls I made that morning, fruit and a brew. The campsite looked nice...picnic tables, water supplies (must treat first), nice tent sites and a flush loo with toilet paper. Lovely stuff.....

I sat there for a good 30 minutes enjoying the scenery and just relaxing. The beach was only 20 meters away so it provided a nice aural backdrop to my repast. 


Jon's tasty lunch set out on a table at Mutton Cove, Abel Tasman National Park

Anatakapau Bay from the Mutton Cove campsite

I think I will plan another trip up here soon and do some camping along some of these lovely beach camp sites....

Mutton Cove to Whariwharangi Hut

I set off again after lunch for the last hour of my walk from Mutton Bay to Whariwharangi Hut, this was a climb to the top of the ridge between the two bays and then the final walk along the track at the back of Whariwharangi Beach.



Whariwharangi Hut is one hour from Mutton Bay

The start of the last section is clearly marked at the northern end of the campsite at Mutton Bay and starts climbing slowly and steadily as soon as you enter the bush. The bush was more open in this area as I think it was once cleared for farming and is slowly regrowing as Manuka forest.



Start of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track at northern end of Mutton Cove

Track be this way......Abel Tasman Coastal Track


Thick bush at the start near Mutton Cove...

Ferns growing along the section from Mutton Bay to Whariwharangi

It got progressively windier and colder as I climbed up to the top of the ridge...the wind coming in off the Tasman Seas was strong. I contemplated donning my jacket a couple of times but thankfully it never got so cold that I really needed to do so. The bush was Manuka forest which is really common along the ridgetops in the top of the South Island. 



A recently cleared slip on the track between Mutton Cove and Whariwharangi

I made it up to the top of the ridge after 20 odd minutes, there was an European couple sitting at the lookout who I chatted to for about 10 minutes they were on their way back to Totaranui before setting out along the Coastal Track. 

I didn't bother going out to Separation Point...one of my work colleagues had gone out there earlier this year and she said it wasn't worth the effort. Supposedly the track is poor with a few slips and it is difficult to see the seal colony now as part of the track fell into the sea and you cannot go right out to the end of the point. Up to you really.....


On the apex of the track, midway between Mutton Cove and Whariwharangi Bay

At the Abel Tasman Coastal Track and Separation Point Track junction

....the track to Separation Point....Abel Tasman Coastal Track

You get your first view of Whariwharangi Bay from near the junction with the Separation Point track...it is a dense area of bush surrounded by hills and fronted by another of those golden sand beaches. Lovely...

You can just make out Farewell Spit at the far top of the South Island in the distance...it is a low dark shadow on the horizon. 


First view of Whariwharangi Bay from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

In the sun heading down to Whariwharangi Bay

Beautiful benched track to Whariwharangi Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

There is a good view of the saddle between Mutton Bay and Whariwharangi about ten minutes down the track...it is the lower side of the peak in the middle left of the photo below. The track sidles along the side of the ridge all the way down to the coast. 

The hills along the coast are not huge most of them are between 100-400 meters...the larger peaks are in the interior of the national park and some of those are as high as 1200 meters. They actually get snow on them during winter storms. 

Gibbs Hill from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Here is a curious sight....an area of forest without any undergrowth...these are        trees. The leaves of the trees breakdown into dust and leaf skeletons as they rot so there is very little leaf litter about. Additionally they release a natural herbicide which stops other plants taking hold. I saw several of these areas as I walked along the track.


Strangely clear area of bush, on the way to Whariwharangi Bay

There is an intensive trapping program underway in Abel Tasman National Park called Project Janzoon. The ultimate aim is to restore the forest to the same state it was in before Europeans arrived with its full compliment of flora and fauna.

Part of the process is pest trapping there are literally thousands of pest traps set out to catch the normal dastardly crew; weasels, stoats, rats, mice and cats. The trap below is a DOC 200 just one of many score I saw as I walked down the track.


One of the many DOC pest traps I passed along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

You get an excellent view of the whole terrain around Whariwharangi as you descend the track...the low rolling hills, golden beach and regenerating Manuka forest where the homestead once sat. Most of this valley was once a remote farm hacked from the native forest which once clothed the area.


Closer view of Whariwharangi Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The track becomes a 4 W/D road, Whariwharangi Bay

The ocean was also striking...wild, majestic with a dark brooding air to it enhanced by the strong wind which was blowing and the sound of the angry sea pounding onto the shore.

Beautiful, spectacular but deadly...this is not the place to be swimming....the seas are rough and there are strong currents along the coast. Which is to say you might swim here but you would never see me swimming here.



A dark and turbulent looking Tasman Sea, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Eastern end of Whariwharangi Beach hove's into view, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The road turns into a 4 W/D road once you reach the coast...it winds along behind the dunes and an ancient line of massive Macrocarpa trees that were obviously planted when this was farmland. There is a thousand years worth of firewood scattered under them but unfortunately you are not allowed to camp here...it is too dangerous as widow maker branches regularly fall off these type of trees.


Tree stump as fence post, Whariwharangi Bay


Passing the Macrocarpa grove, Whariwharangi Bay

I bet this beach looks awesome on a nice warm sunny day but I was not there on a nice day. On the day I was there it looked and was bloody cold....


The beach at Whariwharangi Bay..look at all that firewood!!!

.....dont be swimming at Whariwharangi Bay.....

There is a swamp behind the dune zone At Whariwharangi Bay...possibly it once opened to the sea but now it is full of reeds and slowly turning into a forest as the swamp fills with silt and the trees encroach. There was a stand of Kahikatea Trees growing along the back of the swampy area...perfect habitat for that type of tree. 


Heading for the hut at Whariwharangi Bay, Abel Tasman National Park


Abel Tasman National Park: the swamp behind Whariwharangi Beach.....

The track turns inland at the western end of the beach, from the junction you have only 300 meters to walk before you reach the campsite and hut. As usual I feel over about 100 meters from the end of the tramp and scrapped all the skin off my knee...it is only now healing. I often hurt myself when I am nearly finished a tramp...usually a fall or trip...so far with no lasting damage.

Loss of concentration...you have to watch out for it as you come to the finish of a days tramping. 



Turn off for Whariwharangi Hut, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Abel Tasman Coastal Track: Whariwharangi Hut is a five minute walk from the beach....

Approaching the Whariwharangi campsite

First view of Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay: Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The last hour of the walk was the easiest although that is a relative thing as it was still steep on the climb out of Mutton Bay. Regardless I was glad to see Whariwharangi Hut as it meant I was under cover before the rain started. 

Whariwharangi Hut and campsite

There is a 20 bunk DOC hut and a 20 spot campsite at Whariwharangi Bay...the hut is an old farm house from the early 1900's..this was the original homestead. The building was occupied until the mid 1940's when the farm was abandoned as the National Park came into being. 


Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay

Doc sign at Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay

The building had fallen into disrepair over the years and by the late 1980's was on the verge of collapse. It was rescued by DOC and totally renovated so it could serve as a back country hut. They did an excellent job of keeping the color of the building while making it into a usable space. The hut is now over 100 years old and baring a fire or some other disaster is likely to remain in use for at least another 20-30 years. 

It is a quaint old thing with peculiar features that you will never see on your average DOC hut so it is well worth the effort getting here to stay in the old lady. Have a look in the hut for the photo of the hut taken in 1982 which shows how rundown it had become...it is a miracle it survived.  


Whariwharangi Hut, Abel Tasman National Park

Potted history of Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay

The interior is all about the wood...wood floors, wood walls, wood roof..it is all made of wood.There are four bunk-rooms with 2-10-4-4 bunks in each...I was in the two bunk room on the ground floor by myself...there were 16 of us staying that night.

It has a wealth of informative panels inside which explain the origins and history of both the hut and the surrounding area. It must have been hard living here...back in the day the closest village was Takaka which could only be reached by following the coast around to Wainui and then walking inland. 

Abel Tasman National Park: Living area of Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay

My personal bedroom...two bunks and plenty of spiders, Abel Tasman National Park

Cooking benches in Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay: Abel Tasman National Park


Another bunkroom at Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay

There is a framed map of the then new Abel Tasman National Park on the wall of the hut...it is dated 1944 so just two years after the park was gazetted. It shows some of the farms and settlements which then existed inside the park boundaries...fascinating stuff really...


Old survey map of Abel Tasman National Park circa 1944....

Message inside Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay

More on the history of Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay

I went for a walk around the surrounding area...there were also a few out buildings around the hut...a wood shed, wash station but also a nice ablution block with flushing toilets, sinks and a freezing cold water shower for the foolish/hardy.


Old plough at Whariwharangi Hut, Abel Tasman National Park

Exterior of Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay

Rear entrance to Whariwharangi Hut, Abel Tasman National Park

Ablution block, Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay

There is a apparent balcony to nowhere on the side of the hut...in fact it is the fire escape from the two upstairs bunk-rooms...you climb a short ladder and scamper down the roof or use the ladder leading to the ground. It would be utterly useless in a real fire but fire regulations require two points of egress in public buildings like this. 


The balcony to nowhere...Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay


Outdoor wash facilities at Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay
There is a very nice hut wardens quarters tucked into the bush behind the hut...it has bunks for four people, solar panels, gas stove and wood burner and a plenty of space to relax. There is a hut warden up here from late October right through to April to manage the visitors. The huts at the southern end of the park have roving hut wardens who move from hut to hut each night. 

It would be needed as it gets hellishly busy in the park over the summer and someone needs to be around to herd the wandering trampers. 



Hut wardens accommodation at Whariwharangi Hut, Abel Tasman National Park

Interior of hut warden accommodation, Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay

The campsite is about 30 meters from the hut with its own toilets, wood shed, water supplies and concrete fireplaces. It would be a nice wee spot to camp as it is shelter on all sides by thick bush. There were 10 tents so maybe 15 people camping there that night. 

I stayed in this campsite back in the 1990's when I walked into Whariwharangi Bay with my girlfriend of the time from Wainui. 


The campsite at Whariwharangi Hut, Abel Tasman National Park

Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay: hanging our boots out of the way of Weka's

I spent most of the afternoon around the hut chopping wood, cleaning out the fire, sweeping the floors...It started raining about an hour after I arrived at the hut..a soft misty rain which continued right through until the early morning. It was OK because we had a woodshed chock full of bone dry Macrocarpa and that stuff burns hot once you get it going. 

 It was a convivial hut atmosphere that evening...the only kiwi in the hut was a 10 year old boy there with his parents all the rest of us were born elsewhere. We had a Kiwi, an American, Canadians, Chinese, Irish, English, South African and Dutch people there that night. 

A real international mix...as it should be!!!


Jon inside Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay

Tucking into a soup...Whariwharangi Hut, Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park: my cook kit at Whariwharangi Hut

Whariwharangi is a special and colorful hut I really recommend that you take a trip up to the northern end of the park some time and visit one of the oldest huts in the DOC back-country stable. It is well worth the effort...


Wharwharangi to Totaranui via Mutton Cove + Anapai Bay

I was up early the next morning because the noise of bird song was quite literally deafening for a good hour around dawn. 

Wow...unbelievable!!!!!

 I have never heard so many birds singing at the same time in my life and I spend a lot of time outdoors. I was the only bugger who got up and went outside to listen....what were my hut mates thinking?

Jon outside Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay

I think I got a small taste of what it must have been like when Europeans first arrived in New Zealand. It was so noisy back then that the crew of Captain Cooks Endeavour had to stuff cotton into their ears so they could think. All I can say is that trapping program must be working a treat in Abel Tasman National Park. 

Keep up the good work!!!


Day two...morning...outside of Whariwharangi Hut, Whariwharangi Bay

After a quick breakfast of good old pog 'n tea I packed up my gear and headed out into the day. I had to be at Totaranui by 1.45 to catch my boat and I left at around 8 am so I had a pile of time to use along the way. The new day was lovely...clear, no wind and by the time I got to Mutton Cove around 9 am it must have been 20+degrees. 

It was a perfect day to be walking ....


Walking through the campsite at Whariwharangi Bay

I had considered walking back via Gibbs Hill but I have already tramped into Whariwharangi Bay along the track back in the 1990's with a ex girlfriend so i didn't feel the need to revisit it. I just went about face and walked back along the Coastal Track. 



On the Abel Tasman Coastal Track enroute to Mutton Bay from Whariwharangi

Abel Tasman Coastal Track: Whariwharangi Bay...start of the first climb for the day

Whariwharangi Beach with the sea looking a lot calmer

Taupo Hill, Whariwharangi Bay from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

I made good progress right through the day...I always enjoy walking in the early morning...the light is more interesting and it is a lot cooler than later in the afternoon. I stopped to talk to a group of Malaysian tourists near the turn off to Separation Bay but apart from that I walked right through to Mutton Cove with hardly any breaks. 

I didn't pass anyone else from the Separation Point turn off all the way down to the coast. 


Apex of track between Whariwharangi and Mutton cove

Note the pest trapping box on the left side of the track in the photo below...one of many along the track...


Heading down to Mutton Cove from Whariwharangi, Abel Tasman Coastal Track


Manuka regrowth on old farming land....Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Another great view of Separation Point and the beach from near the apex of the climb through to Mutton Bay. The sea was glimmering in the sun and look extremely appealing. 


End of Separation Point from Abel Tasman Coastal Track


Thicker bush approaching Mutton Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

View of Mutton Bay from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

I had a 15 minute rest at Mutton Cove, I sat at one of the picnic tables and looked at the sun shinning on the sea. There were three tents there...two from the Malaysian trampers and an American couple who were on the boat with me in the afternoon. It was low tide so when I set out for Anapai Bay I walked along the surf line on the firm wet sand. 



Mutton Cove campsite....three tents on site!!!

Mutton Cove heading for the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Mutton Cove and Separation Point: Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Then it was back into the bush for the one hour walk to Anapai Bay...it was much easier walking this direction...the track seemed to flow easier and the gradient seemed to be less extreme. I passed around eight people on this section all of them heading for points north.


Heading for Anapai Bay....Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Back into the bush at Mutton Cove:Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Steep uphill section...Abel Tasman Coastal Track

You always get good photos in early morning sun...the colors are more vibrant and there is a nice glow of sun light coming through the trees. I like the play of light and shadow on the ground. Photographers do not call it the Golden Hour for nothing...


Approaching the apex of the track between Mutton Cove and Anapai Bay

....bridge over side stream, Abel Tasman Coastal Track


Anapai Bay from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Young grove of Rimu trees, Abel Tasman Coastal Track near Anapai Bay

Perfectly benched track between Mutton Cove and Anapai Bay

I stopped and had a good look at a couple of mature Totara trees just before Anapai bay...they were easily 30 meters tall and covered in vines, creepers and other plants. I'm surprised they survived the timber felling days...paradoxically it was probably because most of the other trees were much bigger...

Sometimes being the little gnarly dude in a crowd works to your advantage...


Mature Totora tree near Anapai Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

...mass of co-habiting plants on a mature Totora tree, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

After an hour I got to Anapai Bay and went over to the campsite and had a snack/drink break...I got there as a French couple were packing up to head to Whariwharangi so I had a short chat to them about the hut, track etc. as they packed.


Approaching Anapai Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The beach at Anapai Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Northern end of Anapai Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

Its a really beautiful beach on a warm sunny morning...I would swim here if I was staying....and have a driftwood fire at night....



Abel Tasman Coastal Track: the Anapai Bay campsite is to the right in the Manuka scrub...

The campsite at Anapai Bay also looks nice...it is tucked into some Manuka behind the beach...it is more primitive than the campsite at Mutton Cove but that also has its own charm. Lots of Weka around so you would have to keep a close watch on yer stuff or they would be having it...


Anapai Bay campsite, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Picnic tables at the Anapai Bay campsite, Abel Tasman Coastal Track


Jon at the Anapai Bay campsite, Abel Tasman Coastal Track


Woderick the Weka at Anapai Bay campsite, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

After about 20 minutes I packed up my stuff and set out on the last hour of the trip...I was sad to be leaving the beach as it meant I was just about finished another superb tramp. It is always a bit sad at the end of a good tramp..who knows when you might visit the same place again...


...what a sight...Anapai Bay on a lovely late Spring morning....

DOC sign at Anapai Bay, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The track to Totaranui is marked by a big orange triangle and a circle at the southern end of the bay....it is a short 20 minute walk up to the crest of the headland and then another 40 minutes to get back to the Totaranui campground.



Back into the bush heading to from Anapai Bay to Totaranui, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Climbing up to Anapai on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

In the bush between Anapai Bay and Totaranui, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

There are a lot of Nikau Palms along the northwest coast of the South Island....they are endemic to the area...Nikau are the only palm trees which grow in New Zealand and even today there is a lot of debate about how they got here. Were they always here or did the seed kernels drift here from some Pacific island....nobody can be quite sure.

There are forests of them along the coast from the Heaphy River to Kohaihai...you will see them if you ever go walk the Heaphy Track.


Nikau Palm next to the Abel Tasman Coastal Track


Semi tropical bush near Anapai, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Apex between Anapai Bay and Totaranui, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Skinners Point, Totaranui from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The estuary at Totaranui from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

I arrived at the low tide track junction after 40 odd minutes, the tide was high so I couldn't use this as my route onto Totaranui campgrounds so I just kept following the high tide track around the estuary.

 There were a lot of people about as day trampers headed for Anapai and points north and I saw a group of half a dozen heading up the Gibbs Hill track...possibly going to walk the Inland Track as they were loaded down with gear and wearing gaiters. 

Less than 2 kilometers left to Totaranui, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

DOC map showing Totaranui campgrounds, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

End of the forest on the northern end of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

It was beautiful and sunny by this time with a slight breeze blowing to cool the air a bit, great for walking. I stopped at the bridge near the Gibbs Hill turnoff and watched the wind blowing the long grass in the open plain near there. 

You have to take the time to notice the little things like this....


Approaching he turn off to Gibbs Hill, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

On the track to Ngarata Homestead, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The estuary was full and very photogenic as I passed it, the water had come in right up to the side of the track. There were lots of Weka and Pukeko walking about...they might stalk the campgrounds for scraps but this is their natural habitat. 

I walked along under the Manuka trees for the last couple of hundred meters of track contemplating what I would do once I reached Totaranui. I was ready for a toilet stop, lunch and a massive brew. 


Totaranui estuary...Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Totaranui estuary and the Headland from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Beautiful ferns approaching the end of the northern section, Abel Tasman Coastal Track

I walked off the Coastal Track and started the last couple of hundred meters to the campground passing Ngarata Homestead on the way. Ngarata was the home of the family who owned all the land around here before the National Park came into being. They farmed most of the land in the valley including the area occupied by the present campgrounds. 

This was probably one of the more profitable farms as the land is flat and would have allowed a substantial number of animals to be carried. The homestead is now a historic trust building maintained by DOC. It is also an outdoor education center which can be hired by groups and can hold up to 70 people. According to the DOC website it has a large amenities block out the back and the bunks are in the old homestead. That would be a cool place to go for a school trip. 


Ngarata Homestead at Totaranui Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

Information panel at Ngarata Homestead, Abel Tasman National Park

From Ngarata Homestead it is only 500 meters to the campground along the gravel access road...watch for cars...the speed limit is 30 km/h but one sped past me at a good 50-60km/h chucking up piles of stones and dust behind it. There are idiots everywhere....


On the gravel road between Ngarata Homestead and Totaranui Campground


...home stretch the last 100 meters walking into Totaranui Campground...

I rolled into the campground at 11.03 in the morning so I think it took me about 2.5-3 hours to walk back from Whariwharangi hut. It seemed much faster than on the way north....


Departure point.... Totaranui camp ground

My start and finish point on this trip was at the Totaranui campground....It was busy in the campground on this Sunday morning as the final check out time is 11am in the morning and people were on their way to their next destination. 

The 11am water-taxis from Kaiteriteri and Marahau had both arrived so there was a mess of people milling about before they start walking for the day. Quite a hub-bub of noise and action....


Totaranui campground HQ  and DOC visitor center, Abel Tasman National Park

First order of business was a trip to the toilets which are co-located in the main office visitor building.


Map of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track at Totaranui

Map of the Totaranui campgrounds, Abel Tasman National Park

There are two options for water taxis in Abel Tasman National park.....the difference between them is their home base. Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles are based out of Kaiteriteri and used larger multi-hull boats in the park. Because the boat is so much larger they cannot stop at the shallow beaches/bays like Onetahuaiti and Anchorage so bear this in mind when booking. 

The other option is Marahau Watertaxis/Abel Tasman Aquataxis who use smaller boats which can land anywhere along the coast. I tend to finish at Marahau so I almost always use Aquataxis as that is their home base and they have a semi secure car-park where I can leave my car. 


Water taxi option one: Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle boat based in Kaiteriteri, Abel Tasman National Park

Water Taxi option two: Abel Tasman Aquataxis based at Marahau

I didn't much fancy sitting out in the sun for two hours and getting roasted to a crisp so I went over and occupied the Great Walk cooking shelter.

Technically this is only only for people camping at Totaranui BUT the sign says "Abel Tasman Coastal track trampers only" and that was most certainly me.


Great Walk cooking shelter at Totaranui campgrounds


...that is me..Coastal Track tramper....

The shelter has some seats, filtered water from taps and provides three sided protection from the elements. The closest toilets are in the DOC office and visitor center about 100 meters away. I set my cook gear up, made myself a brew as soon as I got there and had a massive drink of water as I was feeling a bit of a headache from walking in the sun. 


My cooking gear ready to go at the Totaranui campground shelter

There are a lot of birds around the campground at Totaranui...DOC have planted a lot of fruit, berry and flower bearing trees to attract them. I have seen Keruru, Silvereyes, Tui and Bellbirds here before as well as a host of introduced birds. having slept here before their songs at dawn are very beautiful and really loud as there are a LOT of birds in the forest. 

You also see a lot of Pukeko and Weka..these birds love campgrounds as they are itinerant thieves and scroungers. Keep an eye on your gear as both bird types will steal colorful or shinny items to adorn their nests. Do not feed them as it just makes them reliant on human handouts....



Totaranui campground wildlife....a Pukeko...


A plump Weka.......at Totaranui campground

....A fat as Keruru stuffs itself silly on berries...Totaranui campgrounds

I got to Totaranui at 11.03 am and my water taxi didn't come until 1.45 pm so I had a bit of time to spare. I ensconced myself in the cooking shelter at the Great Walk camping area, took off my boots and made myself some noodles for lunch. Then I sat at a picnic table just outside and drank copious cups of tea . It was extremely pleasant sitting there in the sun....

I saw my fellow huts mates walk into Totaranui at around 12.30 pm so it is obviously a much longer trip over Gibbs Hill to Totaranui or they messed around in the hut for a long time. 



Abel Tasman National Park: interior of the Great Walk cooking shelter

Jon enjoys a deserved brew at the Totaranui /great Walk coking shelter,  Abel Tasman National Park


I had my boots off for most of the time I was waiting...they appreciated the airing as it was hot at Totaranui at least 25 degrees..... 

I had a chat to a trio of Spanish trampers who also came over to the shelter to cook some noodles for lunch. They were going to walk all the way to Separation Point and back over the afternoon even after I told them it was going to be a 5 hour trip. They were walking back to Marahau over the next couple of days.

I don't think they would have made it to Separation Point as they had heavy looking overnight packs but good luck to them. 


Pack and boots ready for boarding the watertaxi, Abel Tasman National Park

I shift myself over to the picnic tables overlooking the beach at 1.30 as the watertaxi times can be a bit of...they basically get there when they get there. It was nice sitting in the sun with a slight breeze blowing. This was good as this area is a sandfly haven so you can normally only handle sitting here for 20 minutes before they attack. The wind kept them away very nicely thank you ....


DOC office and visitor centre, Totaranui campgrounds, Abel Tasman National Park


...looking out to the beach at Totaranui...

Totaranui beach with Skinners Point in the middle distance...


The sand at all these beaches in the Abel Tasman is a lovely caramel orange color.....it gets washed down the many rivers and streams from the hills at the center of the park. It makes for some awesome swimming as the bays are relatively shallow for a goodly distance from the shoreline. 



Totaranui beach looking west towards the Headland, Abel Tasman National Park

Totaranui beach with a view east towards Awaroa, Abel Tasman National Park


I sat and watched an unconcerned Sparrow have a dust bath about a meter from my feet..it left a perfectly round hollow when it was finished...a curious thing to see. 


A sparrow takes a dust bath, Totaranui campground

My boat turned up on time and as scheduled....it was called 'Fred' and had a small plaque on the cabin with a name and dates on it. I imagine it was one of the boat captains who worked for Aquataxis for a long time and they named the boat after him. 


My water-taxi 'Fred' coming to collect me at Totaranui Beach

The boat was full on the way back to Marahau which became a problem later when we had to stop at Bark Bay to drop some trampers off. The boat skipper landed at the wrong spot and the boat got beached on a sandbar. Bark Bay is notoriously shallow water...at low tide you can see the bottom for 100 meters off shore.

The water is shallow off Bark Bay, Abel Tasman National Park (2017)

The skipper couldn't get us unstuck so we all had to get out and carry the boat about 50 meters out to sea before it floated again. The water was surprisingly warm...just as well as it was around my waist and some peoples chest by the time we got it out far enough....fun, fun, fun!!!!


Another great trip to Abel Tasman National Park...I absolutely love it up here. I am next in Abel Tasman NP in late February 2020 for another attempt on the Inland Track. 

I cannot wait....


Access: Water taxi from Kaiteriteri or Marahau, the trip takes one hour from Marahau
Track Times: 7.5 km's or 2.5-3 hours Totaranui to Whariwharangi Hut on the Coastal Track, 9-10 kms or 3 to 3.5 hours via Gibbs Hill Track.
Hut Details: Whariwharangi Hut: serviced, 20 bunks, wood burner, filtered water tank, wood shed, flush toilets; DOC campsites at Totaranui, Anapai Bay, Mutton Cove and Whariwharangi Bay.
Miscellaneous: On DOC Great Walk booking system, must be booked for overnight visit. Hut warden in residence from late November to 30th April each year.