Sometimes you just need to be on your own.
Getting together with a few friends and setting out for a few days in the bush, living off what you can carry on your back brings a whole lot of perspective back into life. A reminder of how little we need to enjoy life.
Tramping solo was taking that independence a step further, but sometimes the opportunity comes up, and you must take it. And let’s face it getting some me-time could hardly be called selfish after the year we have just had.
There are so many choices for a couple of days tramping on your own, but I have stared enviously at the pictures of the Abel Tasman Walk for many years, and it seemed an ideal option – not too remote, a reputation as a truly Great Walk, and likely to be relatively quiet mid-week in late November, especially after two days of torrential downpours and drizzle in the forecast.
It lived up to everything I had expected and more. Abel Tasman does not have the imposing rugged mountain peaks and glacial valleys of the Fiordland Parks, but the golden-sand beaches make for a quite different and much more relaxing experience. That phrase “golden beaches” is so over-used but there is no better way to describe those beautiful bays. I challenge anyone to resist those clear waters – even in November. I had a full 8-hours of tramping ahead of me, but I found the time to share Stillwater Bay in the company of paradise shelducks and a cheeky weka on both days. Another few swims when I reached the campsite at Bark Bay/Wairima was a great way to finish the day.
Those who have been involved in the pest eradication should hold their heads high. These folks have been going hard for over 15 years and thanks to that perseverance the native birdlife is thriving. The bush is full of the cheerful sound of robin and it was blissful to be woken up by a bellbird in the tree just above my tent. Bellbirds were few and far between but there are plenty of tui and piwakawaka to enjoy.
Weka are abundant. Sometimes annoyingly so. I had the pleasure of having my lunch stolen off me at Stillwater Bay, and holes pecked into my tent cover at Observation Bay. But the truth is I wouldn’t have it any other way. Kaka and saddlebacks are also listed as birds to look out for, but I never had the pleasure of coming across either.
And the verdict on the merits of tramping on your own – As soon as I reached civilisation I couldn’t wait to get on the phone and post on social media to share the experiences of the previous two days. So, nah, I think shared experiences are just that much sweeter. However, don’t get me wrong, it was a very memorable and unique experience and Abel Tasman was a perfect choice, just take a lot of photos.
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