Backpacking the Abel Tasman Great Walk – Day 3


Day 3: Onetahuti to Totaranui


And here I am again, hauling myself down the trail with a heavy pack on my back. My original plan was to toss my pack onto another water taxi and send it up to Totaranui (pronounced “Toe-trah-noo-ee”), the campsite I was planning on staying at Saturday night. However, I ended up missing the first taxi of the day by just enough time that I saw it pulling away from shore, and then when I found another one coming through about 20min afterwards, they said that service to Totaranui was suspended, since the main road into the camp was washed out and so few people were going that far north.

“Well Ben, you’re pack is a full two-days-worth-of-food lighter now, and most of what you’ve eaten has been the fresh fruit that you packed – so thats a good portion of the weight. You’ll be fine”

“But Ben, I am lazy”

“Shut it. You don’t have a choice. Start walking before I sick the dogs on you!”

“Ahh! Ok ok ok! I’m going! Don’t set loose the imaginary dogs of imaginary mind-war!”

And so I walked on… and I was right actually – the pack was significantly lighter. For food I had packed a combination of fruits and dried food, everything from pears to trail mix to porrage, so that I wouldn’t get sick of any specific thing too quickly. I had already eaten most of the pears that this point, which I found out had taken up nearly half of the total food weight, thanks to their juicy nature. Without them weighing me down, I made quite good time along the Coastal Track, even though I did take more than a few rest stops along the way, if only to snap a picture or take a sip of water.

After a while I started walking along with a girl I met alongside the trail – a German from Bavaria named Sara. It was nice to have a hiking partner for once, since I nearly never backpack with others, and we kept a pretty nice pace going forward. In all honesty it was me working to keep up with her though; even though she looked thin as a rail she seemed to have limitless energy, and thanks to her pushing me on we set a blistering pace towards Totaranui.

Part of what I think helped her set this pace was that she wasn’t carrying that much on her back – instead of doing the usual “bring a stove to cook your food” tactic, she had went for another approach, one that I honestly haven’t really seen before; eat ham & cheese sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Seriously… in the time that we hiked together I saw her eat two of them, and she had another dozen or so stashed away in her pack. Thanks to that, all she had on her was a tiny first-aid kit, a warm-weather sleeping bag, a change of clothes, a yoga mat, and a small tent. Huh… I am not a huge fan of the “bring barely what you need, assuming nothing goes wrong” tactic, but I was jealous of the lightness of her pack.

Either way, we walked and talked, ate and drank, and joked and laughed for a few hours, before I needed to finally take a real break from the pace she had been setting. Sara kept moving on ahead, since she had a water-taxi to catch, and so I spent a bit of time reading and taking a dip in the ocean, since I didn’t really have any reason to be at the campsite at any specific time.

We did meet up again though, when I finally did arrive at the campsite nearly exactly when her boat was about to board. I felt like I was in a romance movie – I had dropped my backpack and headed for the beach to say goodbye and get her contact info, since I had forgotten earlier and definitely wanted to have someone I could visit in the heart of German beer-country. When I got onto the beach I saw her just about to board the boat, so we re-enacted the ending scene from every single romance ever, where the guy yells out “<girls name here>, wait! Don’t go!” and she calls back “Ohh no! But my <mode of transportation> is about to leave!” and then they run to each other and kiss and hug and then have a billion babies. Well… we didn’t kiss, or have the babies (thankfully, I would NOT want to carry that many babies out of the national park, too heavy), but we did hug and exchange email addresses before she shipped off and on to her next adventure.

<everyone say “awwww” here>

After Sara left, I went about setting up camp… and soon learned the danger of Totaranui; the sandflies. They were everywhere, and they bit. And it hurt, and was annoying, and I seriously thought I was going to die. So I headed to the ranger station, since Totaranui had a fully-stocked office since its one of the hubs of the trail, intending on buying myself a big thing of bug spray. But they were closed.

Thankfully the rangers in Kiwi National Parks are amazing, and I saw one and asked if there was any way I could convince her to open the shop for a few seconds so that I could buy some repellant. She obligingly did so, and after $17 I had my very own thing of anti-bug-spray. (Note: I’m not dumb – I did pack a bottle of spray before I left. Unfortunately it sort of… exploded. Literally, the bottle cracked and sprayed goop all over. Thankfully I’m not stupid, see above, and had put it in a plastic bag, so no real harm was done besides me not having a thing of bug spray)

Once the repellant was applied I finished setting up camp, and immediately took a nap. It was excellent, and to make it even better I woke up slightly sweaty, and so I immediately jumped into the ocean for a quick swim / bath before dinner.

Thusly refreshed, I cooked up another amazing meal of spaghetti and cheese and chicken, ate a cookie, and relaxed for the rest of the night. And by “Relaxed”, I mean “wandered around the beach ’till it got too dark to see”. See, it was Friday, and this would be the first Friday that I missed Capoeira class back in Christchurch since I started going, and I felt a bit bad about that. So, to make up for it I spent most of the post-after-dinner-relaxation evening practicing on the beach. Sand is an interesting thing to play capoeira on, I learned, since its a bit harder to keep your footing thanks to the lack of friction, but it makes the spinning moves much easier to perform, again thanks to the lack of friction.

And so I practiced on the beach ’till the sun went down, and it was time to head back to camp and my very warm sleeping bag for some well-earned sleeping.

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