Best direction to walk these tracks
Planning a top-of-the-South tramp and am seeking advice from those who’ve walked these tracks the better direction to travel. Able Tasman Coastal, Able Tasman Inland, Heaphy and Wangapeka.
Heaphy and Wangapeka can be done as a loop if you use shuttles to link the tracks, if you want to stay based in Nelson/Golden Bay. Can be done in either direction. Might be a difference in charges for the shuttles depending on which direction ?. Or not ?. Heaphy Track requires hut bookings all year round.
Thanks pro-active for your response.
You're welcome. Both Abel Tasman tracks can be walked in either direction, but I haven't fully done them, so can't say whether one way is better than the other. It's spelt 'Abel Tasman' after the Dutch explorer that arrived 1642.
The Abel Tasman is great in both directions. The determining factors are likely to be transport to and from the track ends and timing of the crossing of Awaroa estuary. The section north of Totaranui is the best part, in my opinion but the water taxis only go as far as Totaranui.
I find the Marahau end a bit boring compared to the rest of the Abel Tasman. I too have heard the park North of Totaranui is the best part (perhaps because less people!) but I haven't done that part yet. I have done the rest both ways (albeit many years ago) and kayaked it. So based on those two things I would say start from Marahau and get the less pretty (but still pretty) part out of the way first and it will get better and better as you travel North. Another neat option is to kayak (hire) for two days heading North from Marahau. A boat can then pick up the kayaks (and drop off your packs if you wish as they don't fit so well inside the kayaks) and you can walk the rest of the way and get a boat ride back from Totaranui - all organised with a kayak company who offer it as one of their packages (min 2 people). Kayaking is a great way to see the park and a mix of this and walking is perhaps even better. Either way there is a tidal crossing or two which you have to time right... we had to break camp at 4am at Tonga Beach once to make one of these.
I have done the Able Tasman Inland Track from South to North only. I'm guessing this would be the best way to do it as coming down from Awapoto Hut to Totaranui on the third day is when you get the best views and they are in front of you. There is a nice view going up on the first day but it doesn't change much and it is behind you. On the second day there was, apart from one lookout (from memory) no view - all you see is the immediate forest and I even got a sore neck from looking to see where I was putting my feet (amongst the roots) so much.
Heaphy (and possibly the West Coast end of Wangapeka?) can also be accessed by plane to/from Karamea - much quicker but (I assume) much more expensive. One operator can also land at the Browns Hut end of the Heaphy.
I've done the Wangapeka then Heaphy return twice, both tracks are nice walking and relatively easy however the Wangapeka has a really rough section from just above Taipo Hut to Belltown Hut, it's not that far (10kms?) however there are a shitload of rocks and it never seems to get mentioned. One suggestion I have is to pass Taipo Hut and stay at the Stag Flat Shelter, small 2-bunk but amazing location and in great condition. The Wangapeka is one of the countries most underrated tracks in my view, better than the Heaphy for my money, and the Heaphy is no slouch. I would also recommend bypassing Heaphy Hut for Lewis Hut, it's a short and easy 8kms, not that any section on the Heaphy is hard for that matter, and forgo Saxon Hut for Gouland Downs. When I hiked there was a phone installed at the shelter at the end of the Wangapeka, I called Karamea Last Resort and they came and shuttled me to their place, took a rest day and then shuttled me to the Heaphy, caught another shuttle from Brown Hut but forget who it was with. Abel Tasman Track is very overrated in my view, but coupled with the inland track sounds fun, would be a great contrast doing those together.
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