The Abel Tasman Coast Track, one of New Zealand's Great Walks, covers a 54.4 kilometer track between Marahau and Wainui in Abel Tasman National Park complete with epic beach views, estuary crossings, and suspension bridges. On our last trip to New Zealand we opted to lighten our load by not bringing camping gear, leaving us only able to hike day length portions of the Great Walks. The Abel Tasman Track is particularly well suited to this approach with the fantastic water taxi system that will drop passengers off at various points along the trail and pick them up at another.
On one of our days staying in the Awaroa Inlet area, we booked a water taxi to drop us off in Torrent Bay and pick us up a few kilometers later in Bark Bay. Basically spending the day hiking from one beach to another - pretty awesome right? For someone like me, who loves a great boat ride and has a preference for fulfilling day hikes - this was the perfect way to go. Eventually, I'd love to get back and hike a few more sections of the track in a similar manner.
We started our day with an early pick up along the Awaroa Inlet, just a short walk from our room at the lodge (be forewarned if planning to stay there - we experienced some pretty terrible customer service there and I got glutened). Luckily, the water taxis leave from plenty of other spots too. I'd personally recommend staying near Kaiteriteri Beach, outside of the park, and taking the water taxi from there.
Maybe it's because I don't often travel to warm and tropical destinations, but I found the experience of disembarking the water taxi in Torrent Bay to be exceedingly fun and dare say it made me rather giddy (and perhaps it did the same for my husband). Depending on the beach and the tide, be prepared to jump straight into knee height water to walk to shore. I loved this - best way ever to start a day hike.
This is basically what most of the 7.8 kilometer hike between Torrent and Bark Bay looked like - on the drier side with elevation gain and loss of about 100 meters as you walk through the forest. Overall, a pretty easy walk with some brilliant views out over the coastline and nothing too technical to navigate.
A couple of things to note and come prepared for;
There is a suspension bridge, which I found quite fun, however I can totally understand not being so into it's wobbly nature. Folks often go across one at a time and it's not so bad.
Bring plenty of water if you're hiking in the warm months. While there is some tree cover through most of the hike, it's light and the strength of the sun comes straight through.
After about 2 1/2 to 3 hours you'll find yourself at Bark Bay, where you'll wait for your water taxi pick up back to your base. We opted to hike earlier in the morning and arrive at Bark Bay just in time to set up a little picnic site for lunch and some swimming.
On a side note, If you were wondering about other good uses for trekking poles - they do pretty great at holding up a towel as a small wind shield.