December 28, 2023 Abel Tasman NP (Day 92)

We ventured north today to the smallest National Park in New Zealand, Abel Tasman N.P. Named for the Dutch explorer who anchored in Golden Bay, the northernmost area of the South Island on 16 December, 1642. Three hundred years later, to the day, 16 December, 1942, the Abel Tasman National Park was established! A two hour drive took us over Takaka hill and down into the Takaka river valley, through several small towns, to a trailhead to a waterfall.

Going up the Takaka hill grade, looking back at Tasman Bay where the port town of Nelson lies.

Don’t let the ‘hill’ of this grade fool you, Takaka Hill is a mountain pass from sea level to 2,595 ft. and back down to sea level! We stopped in the little town of Takaka for coffee and a pie, then continued to the coast of Golden Bay.

Our first stop, to eat our pie and drink coffee at Ligar Bay beach. The view is across the bay to Farewell Spit, a bird sanctuary from which the bar-tailed godwit migrates to and from Alaska every year. Over 18,000 miles, non-stop for 8 to 9 days without feeding!

As usual the bathroom here is well decorated, outside and inside!We continued up the road and stopped at the carpark for our hike to the waterfall, with a suspension bridge too!

The trail follows the Wainui river, crystal clear, flowing over huge boulders.

Our destination, Wainui Falls!

We returned via the same path and drove up to the end of the gravel road, at Wainui Bay carpark, to the end (or beginning) of the Abel Tasman Coast Track.

The beginning, with the colorful carving and the figurehead, or the end, plain, with hikers sitting on the benches after their 3 to 6 day trek!

Another 10km gravel road goes across the park to Totaranui Beach, one of the many golden sand beaches that Abel Tasman NP is known for. In fact, the Coast Track here is the most popular hiking trail in all of New Zealand! The most accessible, well serviced, less rugged, and goes to a lot of golden sand beaches!

From the gravel road, looking down onto Totaranui beach! The water looks inviting!

Being so popular of a National Park, with great walks, it was no surprise that the campground was full! We were amazed that everyone there had to come over the same gravel road, some with trailers full of camping gear, bikes, rafts, kayaks, etc.! No dogs or other pets allowed!

The beach is big enough to accommodate everyone!

We stopped in Takaka on our way home to stretch our legs and wander past the shopfronts. Our guide book describes Takaka as having “the highest concentration of yoga pants, dreadlocks and bare feet…”. The shops were selling lots of retro-hippie clothes and high end jewelry! We got some coffee to fuel our trip back over the slalom course of Takaka hill and made it home safely!

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