Able Bodied, Able Minded... Abel Tasman: A Great Walk

Abel Tasman beach view New Zealand

Not many days pass by in this country where I don’t appreciate my able body... Hours spent out in the sun, in the rain, in the wide open spaces, and amongst the minty forest air. Spectacular, gorgeous in it’s detail, full of surprises, New Zealand is a perfect land to unleash the inner explorer.

Alive with our 2018 pre-Christmas spirit, five of us road-tripped from Queenstown to the north-west coast of the South Island to walk the Great Walk, the Abel Tasman Track. Here’s the highlight reel!

Mt Cook, New Zealand's tallest mountain.

Mt Cook, New Zealand's tallest mountain.

I can’t not make a mention of the road trip north. We were doused in rain for much of the journey but that didn’t dampen much more than my towel and camping chair. Mt Cook was standing strong in the distance, the lupins were flowering like the all-encompassing invasive beauty they are (did you know you can eat the beans from them?), and my two roady-mates, Chris & Deni, are two beautiful souls to share a car-ride with.

The invasive Lupin flower. Like us humans here, they’re not native, but by gosh are they beautiful.

The invasive Lupin flower. Like us humans here, they’re not native, but by gosh are they beautiful.

Deni flying here over Chris, basing in the flower beds.

Deni flying here over Chris, basing in the flower beds.

When we arrived to the north coast, we spent a rainy afternoon sprinting from shop to cafe in Takaka; a town with a relaxed and care-free vibe that I’d like to see on a sunny day, before spending an evening at Anahata Yoga Retreat in the mountains above Golden Bay. The yoga class here was exactly what our bodies were calling for after three days of driving; slow and purposeful, with a firm and solid space held by the teacher, the vegan pumpkin soup and GF bread that followed warmed the soul, and the kirtan had us all humming for hours afterwards. We were also united with our friends Em & Jayden, ready to start our tramp the following day.

Em here, inviting me to set an intention for our Abel Tasman hike.

Em here, inviting me to set an intention for our Abel Tasman hike.

Jayden returning the favour to Em.

Jayden returning the favour to Em.

We awoke after a night of heavy rain to a gorgeous panorama of Golden Bay, set ourselves intentions for the four days ahead, and got on the road. Hiccups (getting a car stuck in the mud, doubling back on ourselves to get petrol, forgetting a tent) strengthened our resolve, we enjoyed a final coffee before setting off.

Deni & Em with the angel wings they both deserve.

Deni & Em with the angel wings they both deserve.

Deni & Chris at the beginning of our Abel Tasman adventure.

Deni & Chris at the beginning of our Abel Tasman adventure.

Whoops, snacks on the floor.

Whoops, snacks on the floor.

We began the well-traversed track from the north end, beginning at Wainui Bay and strolling south. The track was quiet and spacious, steep to begin with and our packs were heavy with 4 days worth of food and as much water as we could carry. The views were beautiful from the beginning, so we quickly stopped for our lunch break - the never failing avo on (GF) bread. Chris gave his bag of nuts a shake without sealing the top, so that brought a good laugh and an omen that reminded us to be mindful with our food!

Along the whole track were windows like this one, offering beautiful frames of the coastline.

Along the whole track were windows like this one, offering beautiful frames of the coastline.

We cruised past the beautiful Wahriwharangi DOC hut on route to Separation Point, where we followed the booming sounds of wildlife, only to find it emanating from a speaker, attempting to re-attract a colony of Gannets. We met a few sea lions here, appreciating their laid back attitudes towards life.

Wahriwharangi DOC hut looking timeless.

Wahriwharangi DOC hut looking timeless.

Walking along Separation Point.

Walking along Separation Point.

A Sea Lion showing us what it means to relax.

A Sea Lion showing us what it means to relax.

Looking a little stormy on the horizon there…

Looking a little stormy on the horizon there…

One of the features we were loving about the Abel Tasman so far was the combination of forest and beach walking. Taking off our shoes and walking on the sand is always welcome. I almost lost one of my new shoes to the ocean (thanks for saving it Deni!), we sadly saw a dead penguin, and were hilariously shown that the suspected dead sea lion was not in fact dead, when he waved his arm at us, right on cue.

Mr Chris Wille walking the Abel Tasman sands.

Mr Chris Wille walking the Abel Tasman sands.

“WTF is it with this beach and dead things!?” cue a wave from this lazy (and smelly) fella.

“WTF is it with this beach and dead things!?” cue a wave from this lazy (and smelly) fella.

Me, Deni & Chris on the beaches of the Abel Tasman track.

Me, Deni & Chris on the beaches of the Abel Tasman track.

I was loving the shapes and seeming chaos in the branches of these windswept trees.

I was loving the shapes and seeming chaos in the branches of these windswept trees.

I was also loving the details as much as the grand landscapes. Look close up and you’ll character and personality everywhere.

I was also loving the details as much as the grand landscapes. Look close up and you’ll character and personality everywhere.

After an awesome afternoon walking, we made it to our first campsite at Anapai Bay. This was a stunning little site among the trees, shared with a few other friendly hikers, and giving us an opportunity for our first swim in the ocean. Wow. We set up camp, greeted Em and Jayden (who were a little behind us after forgetting their tent) with a cheer, and I tucked into my first home-made dehydrated dinner with much anticipation and appreciation.

Em & Jayden arrive a short while after us at Anapai Bay campsite.

Em & Jayden arrive a short while after us at Anapai Bay campsite.

I was SO excited for this. At home I dehydrated carrots, bock choy, peas, green capsicum and tempeh, mixed them with store-bought dehydrated shitake mushrooms, onion and garlic, then added some spices and stock, ready to boil up… here with some vermicelli noodles.

I was SO excited for this. At home I dehydrated carrots, bock choy, peas, green capsicum and tempeh, mixed them with store-bought dehydrated shitake mushrooms, onion and garlic, then added some spices and stock, ready to boil up… here with some vermicelli noodles.

And after 15mins in hot water I’m blessed with a beautiful dinner. A perfect vegan hiking meal leaving me satisfied, and then some.

And after 15mins in hot water I’m blessed with a beautiful dinner. A perfect vegan hiking meal leaving me satisfied, and then some.

The five of us stayed up past dark, sharing stories, playing dice and drinking tea, before retiring for the night with the sounds of the ocean in our ears.


Our second day started with a swim, a group Wim Hof breathing session, and a delicious vegan superfood breakfast before setting off on what was to be our longest day of walking. We were aiming for Bark Bay campsite, was aprox 25km south.

Anapai Bay on the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Anapai Bay on the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Em sitting for some calm before our big day of hiking.

Em sitting for some calm before our big day of hiking.

After just 100m walk down the beach we needed to cross a small stream of water. Thankfully there was a log placed there for us to cross, Lion King style, only our packs were very top heavy and Em was in the water before we knew it. Nothing much followed but hard laughter, positive vibes from Em, and an outfit change...

Crossing this little stream was more challenging that it could have been thanks to our top-heavy packs…

Crossing this little stream was more challenging that it could have been thanks to our top-heavy packs…

After 100m Em needed an outfit change!

After 100m Em needed an outfit change!

My four Abel Tasman Amigos.

My four Abel Tasman Amigos.

After a few hours walking we arrived at the Awaroa crossing, for which we had to wait for low tide. Out came the avo on toast and dice!

Multi-purpose frisbee, here stepping in for a dice platform…

Multi-purpose frisbee, here stepping in for a dice platform…

Jayden trying his luck with a variety of wrist-flicks and throwing techniques. He threw a score of zero here… The high toss proving to be an in-effective method of rolling dice.

Jayden trying his luck with a variety of wrist-flicks and throwing techniques. He threw a score of zero here… The high toss proving to be an in-effective method of rolling dice.

Em & Chris crossing the Awaroa Inlet, Abel Tasman

Em & Chris crossing the Awaroa Inlet, Abel Tasman

Tides out at Awaroa Inlet

Tides out at Awaroa Inlet

After walking around 25km, we were all pretty ready to take our packs off and get in the ocean. We breathed a huge, beautiful sigh of gratitude when we caught our first glimpse of Bark Bay, our campsite for the night.

We set up camp, had a swim and a throw of the frisbee (though I wasn’t moving too quickly with pretty sore feet), saw a few stingrays, lit ourselves a fire on the beach, made dinner, then watched in awe as the almost-full moon rose beside a glowing rainbow. A magic scene I can’t try to put into words.

The evening was spent playing cards by the fire, avoiding the smoke, drinking tea, and breathing in the fresh air.

Our first glimpse of Bark Bay, after walking 25kms

Our first glimpse of Bark Bay, after walking 25kms

We soon lit ourselves a fire on the beach and watched the almost-full moon rise.

We soon lit ourselves a fire on the beach and watched the almost-full moon rise.

Almost-full moon on the left, glowing rainbow on the right. We were in paradise.

Almost-full moon on the left, glowing rainbow on the right. We were in paradise.

Jayden, Em, Deni, Chris and myself, loving our evening by the fire.

Jayden, Em, Deni, Chris and myself, loving our evening by the fire.

Em and Jayden trying to deter the campfire smoke by repeating “Rabbits”. Seemed to work a third of the time…

Em and Jayden trying to deter the campfire smoke by repeating “Rabbits”. Seemed to work a third of the time…

Cards by the campfire. No-one wants the be the “Shit-head”.

Cards by the campfire. No-one wants the be the “Shit-head”.


Our third day started with a non-vocalised understanding between the 5 of us that we’d take it damn easy. We lazed around the beach, enjoyed the first real sun rays in a week, read, made breakfast, meditated and swam. Delicious.

Morning meditators. Em & Jayden soaking up the warmth.

Morning meditators. Em & Jayden soaking up the warmth.

After 25kms on day 2, day 3 felt like a breeze as we strolled around 11km south to Anchorage Campsite. I feel asleep for the afternoon as my homies ventured off to the well-known and well-loved Cleopatra Pools. My nap however, was excellent.

Abel Tasman is big with the kayakers.

Abel Tasman is big with the kayakers.

Abel Tasman coastal cove.

Abel Tasman coastal cove.

Day 3 ended with a full moon, cards and dinner on the beach, giggles and games, and an early night for all.


Our final day wasn’t too demanding. My four amigos needed to make it to the end of the hike for 1:30pm for their water-taxi back to their cars, and I was readying myself to hitch back to QTN for Christmas. We woke and made ourselves the last of our food, then finished the hike in good spirits.

For The Better Good compostable bottles.

For The Better Good compostable bottles.

Our last day on the Abel Tasman; tired feet and good spirits.

Our last day on the Abel Tasman; tired feet and good spirits.

The cafe at the end of the hike was a welcome sight. A bag of fresh organic plums disappeared quicker than you can say “stone fruit”, our decaf soy lates tasted fantastic, and our hot fresh food nourished every part of us. The guys almost missed their water taxi we were so content in our seats. I caught a few rides and spent the night in Christchurch, where I picked up a relocation car and returned it to Queenstown, just in time for Christmas day with my girl.

Thanks to my amazing friends and fellow adventureneers. Here’s the crew…

Chris, being the positive, mindful, good dude he is.

Chris, being the positive, mindful, good dude he is.

Denisa, a sparkling strong gem of a human.

Denisa, a sparkling strong gem of a human.

Jayden, creator of my favourite teeshirt (search Buddy Hemp Goods), and the For The Better Good compostable water bottle.

Jayden, creator of my favourite teeshirt (search Buddy Hemp Goods), and the For The Better Good compostable water bottle.

Em, a goddess of the galaxy radiating the good vibes.

Em, a goddess of the galaxy radiating the good vibes.