Our fourth day on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is probably the one that will stick in my mind the longest, for all the right reasons.
The first thing we needed to do was get across Awaroa inlet before the tides made it impossible. Low tide was at 0547 and the official line was that we needed to get across within two hours of this. We wanted to minimize the wading, so set our alarms really early and were ready to walk by about 6. Unfortunately, it was still basically dark :) This shot was a 0.5 second exposure:
It wasn't long before it was light enough for us to see where we were going. Given how the tide actually works in the inlet, there was probably no need at all for us to get up so early, but it was still spectacular to be out there as it got light.
By the time we'd got our boots off and waded across the knee-deep stream (very grateful for our jandals, given how many shells covered the sands), it was almost fully light, only twenty minutes or so after we started out.
We hadn't hung around at the hut to have breakfast, so we stopped at the first scenic place we came to, Waiharakeke Bay.
There was a campsite, but it seemed pointlessly far from the beach; I think we'd have felt a bit cheated if we'd stayed here!
Suitably reinforced with coffee and muesli, we continued to the next beautiful beach, in Goat Bay.
Perhaps it was just the euphoria from the amazing crossing of the inlet, topped up with breakfast, but this beach seemed particularly stunning somehow.
Pictures don't really do it justice, of course, it just looks like yet another amazing beach :)
Another short inland stretch of path brought us to Totaranui, where there is a large campground and road access.
The campground takes nearly 600 people, and in the highest season there's a lottery to get spaces. Even with a beach as long as Totaranui's, it must be pretty busy!
Of course, it wasn't nearly so busy in the middle of April after the Easter hubbub had died down.
The land about Totaranui is rather more open than the rest of the park, and had been farmed many years back.
A brief and steep inland section soon gave way to more beaches, the first being Anapai Bay.
The last picture is another one that doesn't seem like it can possibly be New Zealand.
We had only one more fairly short march inland before we came back to the coast and had our first glimpses of our home for the next nearly two days, Mutton Cove.
We stayed here for two nights and had this vague idea that we might walk as far as Separation Point, about 30 minutes or so away. We didn't make it even that far :)
When we were planning our trip, we decided that we wanted to stay somewhere for two nights, and then had to decide where, based mostly on guesswork -- we'd not been to any of these campsites before, obviously! We'd passed a few pretty scenic spots -- Tonga Quarry and Anapai Bay both looked very nice -- but we were pretty happy with our luck in choosing this one.
To make it even more fun, little groups of fur seals swam up and down the beach, and even dragged themselves out to sunbathe way down at the other end of the beach away from us.
We spent the afternoon sitting on the beach reading and slapping away the sandflies.
Everyone who we'd talked to about Mutton Cove said that we'd have the campsite to ourselves, but this turned out not to be the case on either night. Entertainment on the first night was mostly provided by a little Canadian girl who was totally obsessed with ice hockey and kept trying to ask us fairly difficult hockey trivia questions, without seeming to realize that we couldn't name a single team or player if we tried :)
As it started to get dark, it was the usual routine of dinner, peppermint tea, and an early night, getting ready for a seriously lazy day the next day.