The Northern End
I love encountering the many smiling faces and different accents as I wander through the Abel Tasman, meeting people around the campfire at Anchorage or swimming at the beaches in the Southern end of the Park. But for those times when I feel like isolating myself a bit in order to truly immerse myself in the wonders of mother nature, I head to the Northern end, up past Totaranui.
The first time I visited the Northern end of the National Park it felt like I had just entered another world. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Southern parts of the Park as a kayak guide and love it, but it was being in the North that activated my inner wild woman! The public water taxi services are only permitted to travel as far North as Totaranui so this means the foot traffic in this area is reduced to other like-minded hikers and adventure seekers.
Last time I ventured up that way we arrived in the early afternoon to an outgoing tide. We decided to spend the afternoon frolicking through the tidal pools and caves around Totaranui. Our rock pool investigation turned more into an impromptu coasteering adventure, and what seemed like an hour had actually turned into four. Even then, we felt like we’d only just started to scratch the surface of exploration possibilities.
Back at Totaranui campsite we enjoyed a delicious meal of smoked Anatoki Salmon salad and a few games of chess on the beach. Once the sun had set and we’d dealt with a few mossies and sand flies, we tucked into our tent for the night.
Not far into the walk towards Separation Point the next morning, the contrast between the forest in the North and the forest in the South of the Park became very apparent. The trees here appeared to be ancient and wise, taller and broader than any I’d seen in the Abel Tasman before. They towered over us as we made our way towards Anapai. The rain forest was so dense not even the sound of the ocean made its way through to us. Much of the native forest in the South of the Park is regenerating after the attempts to farm that land failed many years ago. Much of the forest in the North was never cleared by humans so remains untouched.
After about an hour of trekking along the undulating forest path, the bush started to thin out and suddenly the smell and the sound of the ocean wafted through to us. We were getting close to Anapai, our first beach stop for the day.
The ocean that day was still recovering from a storm, so we sat down and watched the whitewash caress the coarse golden sand. Without even realising it, being immersed in this incredible raw nature had caused everything else to melt away and we simply relaxed and fully absorbed our surroundings.
After a brief snack and drink we carried on North through to Separation point, stopping and experiencing every beach and every lookout along the way, taking in all the unique land formations of every new place we came across. We still hadn’t encountered another person!
We reached Separation Point about three hours after leaving Totaranui. Upon arrival we realised that our trip here coincided with the NZ Fur Seal’s breeding season. We were weary of encountering any aggressive bull seals on our ten minute descent down to Separation Point, and while we could smell them, we found they were all swimming gracefully through the breaking waves and jagged rocks below us.
After enjoying the epic views across Golden Bay we retraced our steps back to Totaranui, checking out the sites from a different a whole new angle.
The northern end of the Abel Tasman will always be a special place reserved for the days when I need a getaway from the hustle and bustle of a busy every-day life. A place where I know I’ll be soothed by the raw embrace of the nature around me.
For those of you that want to experience this wonderful walk for yourselves, definitely allow for a six or more hour return walk from Totaranui, especially if you’re like me and you love to take three thousand photos along the way. Always be prepared for weather changes, pack a rain jacket and some spare warm clothing. Also remember to carry plenty of water as you won’t find any fresh drinking water along the way.