What’s the Te pukatea Express:
One of the best trips to explore the magic of the Abel Tasman at a great price. Get your own freedom kayak up the first section of the Astrolabe and on to Anchorage. A quick walk over the hill to camp at the magical Te Pukatea Bay. The next day we hiked through to Onetahuti for the last boat out of The Park back to Marahau.
We arrived the night before our trip and decided to wake up to the Sunrise from our cozy cabin. My partner is not usually a morning bird, however I’m still in the habit of waking up early, so dragged her out of bed. With the further encouragement of a morning coffee, we made it to a deck out the front of the campground and watched the end of the sunrise wrapped in a rug. It’s such a welcome treat being in the country and just taking the moment to soak in the environment. As we were leaving another person was coming out with her yoga mat for her own morning ritual.
The Kayak Trip was picking us up from the Main Carpark at 8:30 am so we had plenty of time to make breaky and make the final preparations for our one-night trip into The Abel Tasman. Given the amount of exploring we do, we had our own gear but was nice to see that The Barn was renting out some basic gear for others as well.
We grabbed another sneaky espresso coffee and a muffin from the office and climbed onboard the van to take us to the Kayak base. Turns out the driver was also the kayak guide and gave us a surprisingly in-depth pre-departure briefing and safety talk. It’s good to see that they do care about their clients as there were a few first-time kayakers there as well. They also had good quality gear like spray jackets and wet bags for phones and cameras. With all that done, we launched down at the main beach and we were off!
Setting off from Marahau and into the Astrolabe
The Guide provided some good tips on the best way to go to see all the best stuff. We got a little lost but managed to have a great time exploring on our own. We did find That Marahau Tree at Tinline bay then crossed the Astrolabe to Fisherman’s island, which was really nice. We stopped off here for a bit and had a snack before heading on to Adele Island next door. It was about mid-tide, so we stopped again for a couple of obligatory photos on the awesome Sandspit. Apparently, there were usually some baby seals around here but we didn’t see any until we got to the Northside of Adele Island. Apparently, it was a big day of work fishing as these seals were looking pretty fat and happy laying around in the sun.
The Mad Mile
It felt like we were both apprehensive to go straight into the “Mad Mile” from here. As such, we cut back into the Astrolabe to Observation beach and Watering cove, which were cool. Eventually, we rounded the point, entering the Mad Mile. The first section was definitely a bit chopper, but it seemed to calm down once we rounded the point. The Kayak guide at the morning briefing had been pretty confident that it would be fine to get through this section today, so we were both happy to see he knew what he was talking about. It was a rugged section through here with some cool beaches and even more seals! We even saw a few penguins floating round out on the water. Presumably, they were catching their breath from fishing all morning.
Rounding the Northern point of the Mad Mile opens up the awesome view to Anchorage and Torrent Bay. We were making good time, so paddled around past Anchorage to Torrent Bay to try and catch the high tide on the Lagon! The River was flowing reasonably strong so couldn’t paddle up into it. With the kayak drop of time looming, we paddled back to Anchorage along the gorgeous beach.
Landing at Anchorage
We landed Infront of the DOC hut as instructed and pulled the Kayak up the beach above the High Tide Mark (leaving the Kayak securely for the Guide to pick up that afternoon) and enjoyed a late lunch. Anchorage was awesome the Hut is right on the beach and the main kitchen there is awesome. Shaped like a church the beach-facing side is basically all windows. There was drinkable filtered water here and flushing toilets. We reluctantly left as we still had a 20min walk to Te Pukatea beach. Upon leaving the Anchorage Campground there is a firewood shed. I can never resist the urge to run the old ax through some timber even though we didn’t even start a fire!
To Te Pukatea Bay
After a nice little climb over the hill (80m vertical) we reached the saddle and the view to our bay for the night opened up. We couldn’t have been happier, my partner let out that little squeal of approval and I knew we were in for a great afternoon. Swims, picnic, exploring setting up camp, and more swims. The stars were amazing out here, but I was blown away waking up the next morning to such a glorious sunrise. We just stayed cuddled up in the tent and let it flood in.
Waking Up – Day 2
We packed up pretty quick, hungry to pack as much into the day as possible before getting the last boat out of Oneatahuti at 3:30. We had a bit of ground to cover being 18km so we headed off at a good time. Once again, we refilled our water at Anchorage and took the High tide walking track around the Torrent Lagoon as we wanted to see Cleopatras Pools. It was a fun little detour up the Torrent River to a series of Rock Pools that even had a rock slide. Apparently, they do Canyoning trips down this river, which sounds awesome. Will have to come back again with some buddies for that one. We wanted to try the rock slide, but with another 15km of walking to go, we decided to leave it this time.
The Hike North
Torrent Village is a nice little village that would be a classic place to stay one day. We climbed the hill out of here with some cool views back down. There were some awesome views down on some lagoons along the way. The Bush felt older and far more of those Black Beach trees though this section. We got to Falls river Swing bridge which is always a classic and looked beautiful to Kayak or boat up. From here we passed a couple of other nice beaches before arriving in Bark Bay.
We had a bit of a snoop around and the campsite looks brilliant. Being a sandspit it must get surrounded by the hightide on three sides. The Hut here had drinking water as well, so refilled and had an early lunch and explore.
I had never heard of Oneatahuti but the guy from The Barn mentioned it was a classic underrated beach. The heat of the day was starting to pick up, so we kept moving as we wanted to be able to spend some time there. It was another gorgeous section of bush and birds. Didn’t see too many beaches in this section, but when we round the point, Oneatahuti bay opened up to us! Talk about a great spot for a photo. At this point, I was keener to jump in the water than take pictures of it. We made a beeline for the beach, dropped our gear, and dove straight in! What a magical bay to end the trip in. We mucked around on the beach for the rest of the afternoon which was the perfect way to end the trip. It was surprisingly underdeveloped which I quite enjoyed.
Getting back to Marahau
The Boat turned up a bit early and the ride out was actually awesome. The captain took us up the falls river where the swing bridge was. We didn’t make it to the bridge, but he turned the engine off and the forest life sounded magical with the water tricking down the hull.
A couple more pick-ups on the way South and we were back in Marahau. We were dropped back at The Barn and treated ourselves to a night glamping at something called “The Love Shack” and a pizza and a couple of beers at The Park Café. What a way to finish an awesome trip into the Abel Tasman. We couldn’t have been happier!