Abel Tasman National Park and Motueka

Located on the South Island’s northern shore is the Abel Tasman National Park. Following the park’s coastline is the Abel Tasman Coast Track, one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks”. It’s a 34-mile point-to-point trail that can be walked in either direction. Since the northern end of the track is fairly remote, instead of doing the whole route, we opted to do an out-and-back hike from the Marahau carpark at the southern end (a short 30-minute drive from Motueka). Starting at the Marahau carpark, we made it as far as the Torrent Bay estuary, then turned around – walking a total of 17 miles over seven hours. The track is relatively flat, so the miles went by fast.

the obligatory trailhead sign photo at the start

toward the start, we cross sandy bay (bridge unnecessary during low tide)

bridge over sandy bay

sandy bay during low tide

it’s a smooth, flat track…easy on the legs

lots of flat trail, our legs could get used to this

The scenery along the track did not disappoint. We enjoyed stunning views all day – from the tops of granite cliffs to the beaches down below.

tinline bay

stillwell bay

stillwell bay

colorful flowers and berries along the trail

views of the bay from the trail above

so many beautiful bays line the shoreline


view of torrent bay before descending to the anchorage hut

torrent bay beach

After Torrent Bay beach, we reached the Torrent Bay estuary and it was no longer passable by foot. It is a section of the track that can only be crossed within two hours either side of low tide. We made this our turning around point.

torrent bay estuary

the trail markers are buried in the water behind me

As we stood there at the Torrent Bay estuary admiring the view, Jay spotted a stingray in the water. He immediately went into the water to film it with the GoPro. Check out this 20 second clip here: http://youtu.be/vG7RJGq0jhE

a stingray!

jay filming the stingray

On our way back, we took a side trail down to the Watering Cove. We took a break here to enjoy the water and eat lunch.

at the watering cove

a bird begs for part of my lunch (jay in the water behind)

From the time we began our hike in the morning to the time we finished in the afternoon, it had gone from low tide to high tide. Also, when we started the hike, it was cloudy and overcast, but by noon it was sunny with clear blue skies. Between the shift in the tide and the change in the weather, the views on our way out in the morning had a completely different look and feel than the views on our way back to the carpark in the afternoon. It was stunning to see the dramatic changes in the landscape created by the shift in the weather and the tide. As I looked back through our photos, I was able to match up a number of the “morning vs. afternoon” views. In other words, pictures taken from the same/near same viewpoints, but at different times of day. It’s hard to grasp how the same landscape can change so dramatically in just a matter of hours. These “side-by-side” images provide a glimpse into what it was like. It was absolutely fascinating.

akersten bay

apple tree bay

trees cling to the sand bar

tinline bay

sandy bay

other side of sandy bay

taken from the bridge over sandy bay

After finishing the hike, we drove into Motueka and stopped at the “Up the Garden Path Cafe & Gallery”. Back home, there is a coffee shop in Boulder that Jay goes to every morning – Amante Coffee. Another morning regular at Amante is Clyde Ray; her daughter and son-in-law run the cafe/gallery in Motueka. We told her we would check it during our NZ travels if we were able. Well, to our surprise, when we stopped by the cafe, Clyde Ray was there – she happened to be in NZ on a visit. We enjoyed a nice glass of wine together in the late afternoon sun. It was a lovely ending to a beautiful day.

at the cafe/gallery in motueka

3 responses to “Abel Tasman National Park and Motueka

  1. What a difference between morning and afternoon photos….spectacular views! I’m amazed that you made a connection with a friend from a coffe shop in Boulder and a relative visiting in NZ….and that the timing and connection just ‘happened’….fun!!

  2. I imagine seeing Clyde Ray made Jay homesick. The stingray video was cool. Very interesting to see the parallel photos. I prefer the sunny sky blue water photos. But how unique to see the difference. I was glad you had an easier trail to walk.

  3. Great idea to post the photo views side by side~so interesting to see how different the same location can be. These trails are more my speed with less adversity than the one you were cutting vegetation to get through with the path overgrown~ Small world with the Boulder connection! Thanks for being a great tour guide as always in NZ!!

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