My legs are sore. Eva and I did a day walk along the Abel Tasman track yesterday. It was one of those casual nine hour hikes. No big deal.
The thing about day walking a great walk is that you are doubling the distance the backpackers normally do in a day. It’s a little over 9km to Anchorage Hut from Marahau. Eva and I walked past Anchorage and almost to Torrent Bay, the second hut. Our destination was Cleopatra’s Pool.
High season means it’s impossible to find a beach of your own. Yes, parts of the walk we saw no one for a half hour’s time. The further you go into the track, the less people you see and the more serene the landscape.
As I walked, my mind would wander…. daydream about people I’ve met and places I want to go next. At a certain point I would forget I was walking. And then I din’t want the walk to stop, because it would mean having to re-enter the world and stop daydreaming. When we did stop at a couple beaches to swim along the way, we would get back on the trail and my legs would take off before my mind had time to compute we were walking again. It’s like my legs had auto-walk mode. And they’re off!
We stayed at The Barn, a hostel and campervan site at the end of the track. The sounds of the cicades in the trees are sometimes deafening. Unlike Tonsai Beach, these cicadas keep chirping as long as there is sunlight. Only at nightfall did we find the relief of silence. At first the silence isn’t noticeable, until the silence is so jarring out here in the middle of nowhere.
Eva and I spent three nights at The Barn. We saw the patterns of the staff, busses of Stray groups coming in and out, and found our favorite bathroom and shower with a window that looks out to two beautiful brown and white cows and the sparkling blue Tasman Sea.
Collique Bay is a close beach to The Barn that is good to swim high tide or low. Eva convinced me to jump in. I swam in blue water. Turning my back on the ocean, I turn around to see a cliff of vibrant green ferns and trees hugging the coastline. Boats sail in circles, thrilling the adventure types aboard. The moon rose over the cliffs and to watch us swim with abandon.
The beaches at the start of the Abel Tasman walk in Marahau are shallow for yards and yards. When the tide goes out, you see the horseback tours walking on the sand that was ocean floor only 4 hours ago. They look like they’re walking on desert terrain, dotted with shells that could be fossils from years past.
As the tide comes in and out there is a phenomenon where people can walk on water. The higher sandbars create little islands. I walked out to one one day, my feet passing crabs who scuttled away from the vibrations my footsteps caused in the sand. Only now is the water its clearest and warmest. On the lone sand island, I was the only set of footprints on this forsaken piece of land out in the middle of sea.
There is a tree on the path from the beach to The Barn that always giveth sweet, ripe plumbs. Eva and I discovered this tree the first day, and it became ritual to shake the branches of the tree every time we walked by as if the branches were hands stretching out to shake our hands. Ripe sweet fruit would then fall to the ground, and we would try to find which plumb among the littered ground of fruits were the ones that just fell.
To live off the land and be one with the land is the beauty of the wild coast of New Zealand’s South Island.