Day 4, Nov 26, 2018 – Awaroa to Whariwharangi Bay (16.9 km)
We woke up to the sound of rain. Today is critical that we cross the Awaroa Inlet at low tide. There is no other option. Bags water proofed, rain gear on (including a poncho) and with a spirit of adventure, we headed out towards Awaroa Hut. We left around 0630. Low tide crossing can be made with two hours on either side of the lowest level. Need to make allowances for the main crossing, that would take about 30 minutes. . First, we walked on the grassy airstrip. We could all be easily sported with our bright rain coats. The first crossing is a river crossing. Then onto the beach towards the hut. We stopped at the hut to make breakfast and a sense of ‘comradeship’ developed as we met other fellow hikers on the same route. In a short time friendship is bonded. Everyone was preparing for the low tide crossing. We packed and headed out around 0745. High tide would come in around 0830. Bare footed, we walked across fast flowing streams from ankle to knee depth. Beware of crustaceans and soft mud. Low cloud hung over nearby mountains. There was a breeze.
Once across, we scrambled in the, fortunately, light rain to get our boots on. Tree canopies provided shelter from the rain until Waiharakeke Bay. We were exposed to the elements. The sea was a little rough. I had packed too much, and it began to weigh on me. Eventually, we arrive at Totaranui around 1100. This seems to be a hub of activities. Camping grounds, road transport to Takaka and Nelson is available plus water taxi service. Tomorrow, we will return to Totaranui to catch a water taxi back to Marahu. There is also a museum about Able Tasman National Park. It was a little reprieve from the continued rain. In a designated hut, we prepared lunch. However, watch out the mischievous Weka birds that has affinity to anything packaged. Food basically. Please do not feed the Weka as there is plentiful in the surrounding area.
We took the high tide track pass historic Ngarata Homestead and re-entered the forest. There is an alternate route via the Gibbs Track. Soon we were descending again towards the coast at Anapai Beach. The rain ceased around 1300. It was a relief. It was a long track on the beach and hike inland again to dense forest. There were great views of Anapai Beach. We then crossed several hills and passed a grassy field towards an orange triangular track marker to Mutton Cove. This is a camping site. The sea was still rough. From this point, we head inland and direct route to Whiriwharangi Hut.
The climb was uphill. There is a great viewpoint looking down at the bays and rugged coastline. From her-on is downhill, which pleased me. We arrived at this 1896 Whiriwharangi Bay Hut around 1645. The hut has 20 bunk beds. There was a sense of ‘having arrived’ at the hut. There was laughter and warmth from the fireplace. Now we can truly appreciate the walk, the landscape and the eco-system with time on our hands. We removed all the wet gear and footwear to dry out. Time to unwind with a nice hot cup of condensed milk coffee. Later, a proper but cold shower. From here, hikers may depart to Wanui (and onward road transport) or like us back to Totaranui. It has been a long day. Our final meal prepared on my no-so new pots and stove.