The lonely planet guide describes the Abel Tasman Track as “one of the most scenic in the country passing through native bush overlooking golden beaches lapped by gleaming azure water. Numerous bays large and small are like a travel brochure come to life”. It certainly feels like all of that, in fact I imagine that this is what a tropical island is like (difficult to be sure as I’ve never been to one). The lonely planet guide describes it as a 51km track whereas the official guide says its 60km which I believe takes in an extra part at the top end. There are also some side tracks that will add another few km. Both agree that it’s a 3-5 day walk and while five days seems quite relaxed, three days would be energetic especially if taking in the side tracks and spending more than a few moments on each inlet to savor the views.
It’s a one way track which means being dropped off or collected at one end. We didn’t have the time to walk the whole track so we arranged a relatively enthusiastic one day option with Wilsons which involves them taking you up the coast and then walking back. We elected to be dropped off at Medlands Beach and being picked up at Apple Tree Bay, a total distance of around 17km which we increased to 20km with a number of side tracks. Overall the track is well prepared and easy to walk although the side tracks down to the beaches (and of course back up again) are quite steep and add significantly to the effort of the walk. We started walking around 10:30 and kept going most of the day (with a short break for lunch) finishing at just before 5:00 pm. The other walk option is to walk only to Anchorage Bay which cuts the walk in half.
Each of the bays is stunning and the walk takes you through thick native bush but with sufficient glimpses that something interesting is always in view. There is one notable side track inland to Cleopatra’s pool which is a charming rock pool fed by a waterfall (ideal apparently for the young to go topless…as we found out ;-)). Definitely worth stepping off the main track for.
As we arrived in apple tree bay at the end of our walk we realized that in fact we were the only ones doing the ‘long’ walk and were told by the tour company that because we were being picked up at low tide we were likely to get wet boarding the boat back – possibly up to our knees! In fact we were lucky since because we were the only ones they sent a water taxi for us (more a speed boat than a cruiser) so we had a nice private ride back to Kaiteriteri.
A thoroughly enjoyable day out and would love to come back and walk the whole track.