Day 3, Nov 25, 2018 – Bark Bay to Awaroa (13.5 km)
Sleep was partial in the hut. Breakfast was chapati with condensed milk and coffee, carbohydrates for the morning walk. From the hut, I could barely make out the orange signage indicating the low tide track. All along the track, there are signage and markers (triangular or round), especially along the coastal track. The track is well maintained. We left around 0730. Deposited our packs on the beach for collection by water taxi to our next stop, Awaroa. We took the high tide track, which led inland. The day was cloudy but no rain or wind. The air was muggy and cool under the coastal forest canopy. A sea of Manuka trees and tree ferns hindered views of the sea.
Crossed the Waterfall Creek via another suspension bridge. Water swiftly flowed over boulders towards the sea. Along the track, you would see yellow wasp traps and other traps set up by DOC. We eventually descended towards Tonga Quarry. Little remains of the granite quarry reminded us of past settlers’ life. Across the water, Tonga Island. Now, seals had taken refuge here. After another bush walk, views of idyllic Onetahuti Beach emerged. Rocky outcrops, emerald green water and golden sand beach made it an inviting proposition. Kayaks laid on the beach. A great place for lunch.
We continued crossing a Maori bridge and an all tide crossing boardwalk. This diversion meant, no more waiting for the tidal crossing on Onetahuti Beach. From the beach, it is uphill walk into the Tonga Saddle. We reached a signage, Awaroa Lodge and Awaroa Hut. We head towards Awaroa Lodge as our packs are deposited at Awaroa Beach, next to the lodge. This is private land, a non-DOC track. If the timing for a low tide crossing is possible, take this track. Perhaps have some tea and lunch at the Lodge while waiting for the tide to drop. We arrived around 1200, collected our packs but made a ‘big’ decision. Although we had bookings at Awaroa Hut, we decided to stay at the lodge for the night. Hot shower and a fancy meal. A little indulgence to sample all of Able Tasman Park. There is a pizza outlet as well. Stunning Awaroa Beach was recently passed on from private to public ownership through crowd funding. Water taxis collected and dropped off passengers, day trippers and lodge customers. A big day tomorrow, to cross the Awaroa Inlet. There is no high tide option!
Nearby, there is a small grassy airstrip to bring the well-to-do customer to the lodge. Planes have been flying in and out throughout the day. Finally, the ‘unusual’ weather that hit South Island descended on us. At dinner time, it poured heavily, and it continued through the night. We carefully packed all our packs as from here-on, there is no public water taxi service. At least, a comfortably bed tonight.