The Inland Track had been on my to do list for several months. Abel Tasman National Park is more known for the Coastal Track, where every year a bazzilion travelers explore the beach side campsites. The Inland track follows the lesser known west path of the Abel Tasman National Park. It’s a 3 day walk on easy track and great if you want to tramp away from the crowds.
Where to start?
You can start either from Marahau or Wanui Carpark. Both start points are easy to hitch hike to. I wrote a post on hitch hiking if you’ve never done it before. Check it out here.
If you don’t feel like hitch hiking, there are shuttles between Nelson, Motueka, Marahau, Takaka and Wanui Carpark. It’s 41 km from end to end for the shortest route. The hike takes 2 nights and 3 days, walking about 20 kilometers per day for 5,5 – 6 hours. There are 2 huts along the way and a few shelters. It is very well signposted so you would be very unlucky to get lost.
If you want to walk less, stay an extra night in a shelter along the way.
Day 1: castle rock hut
The first part of the track follows the Coastal track until the after the Tinline Campsite. There is a T-intersection and you need to take a left there. It then climbs slow and steady at first but gets very steep just before Holyoake’s shelter. There are 2 beds in the shelter. The view makes it a perfect spot for lunch. After that the track climbs steadily for another 3 hours to Castle Rock Hut. The hut has 8 bunks.
I met a French tramper who stayed on the same night as me in the hut. We shared food and stories near the fire. I slept safe and sound exhausted from a day of climbing.
Day 2: Awapoto Hut
Stock up on water before you head out because there almost none in between Castle Rock Hut and Awapoto Hut. The track turns north and after 2 h of walking you should reach Moa Park Shelter. In between Moa and Castle Rock you can enjoy views of the bay from Porters Rock. There is another T intersection at Moa. You have 2 options here.
If you turn left you can cross the Wanui Saddle and follow the Wanui track to the Wanui Hut. That will add an extra day to your tramp. The Wanui track joins the Inland track again north of the Hut.
If you go right, this is the shortest way to Awapoto Hut. The track descends slightly but it is hard going with an army of fallen tree trunks you’ll have to get past. These fallen giants are a remnant of the 2014 storm that hit New Zealand. It caused nationwide damage with the apocalyptic landscape as a result.
I cursed several times when I did this part. Especially because they just go on and on and it doesn’t seem to end. But it makes arriving at the hut that much more exciting.
Day 3: Wanui Carpark
Stock up on water here again because there is none on the next section. The track descends after Awapoto hut and it’s not long until you have views of Wanui Bay. It is still a long way from there though. The track continues descending until you reach the road at Pigeon Saddle. Then passes a few paddocks where you can experience some fresh cow dung aromas. The last climb is to get up to Gibbs Hill and then it’s an easy descend to Wanui Carpark.
From Wanui you can easily hitch a ride to Takaka, South Islands hippie Mecca.
Stay in Takaka for a couple of days because there is plenty to do. There is some seriously good pizza here! Dangerous Kitchen Cafe is where you need to go.
Head up for a home brewed cider and live music at the Mussel Inn. Takaka is also the gateway to the Cobb valley where you can tramp the Leslie-Karamea. North of Takaka is the start of the Heaphy track, a New Zealand Great Walk. Or head back south to Marahau over the Abel Tasman Coastal Track.
My pack for 3 Days
The bare necessities. It is autumn here in New Zealand and with nights still well above 10 degrees, I didn’t bring a cooker. Most huts come with a wood stove and pots and pans. There is always a supply of wood near the huts, but it can be wet so fire is not always guaranteed.
I was staying in huts but on a backcountry trail, it is always a good idea to bring some shelter. Just in case the weather turns on you or if you get lost. This would have been difficult though since the track is well marked.
- 1 tent
- 1 tarp
- 1 goose feather down sleeping bag
Besides the clothes I was wearing, this was all I had in my backpack. My outfit did get a bit grimy after 3 days in the bush, which is why I brought ‘civilization clothing‘. These are items that I keep with me during the hike but never use. They are for when I get out of the track and hitch hike into civilization again.
- 1 hoodie
- 1 rain poncho
- 1 extra pair of socks
- 2 extra underwear
- 1 bikini
- 1 pair of flipflops
- 1 towel
- civilization clothing: 1 dress, 1 pair of tights and 1 cardigan
Not that much food is necessary for a 3 day hike. I went full vegan on this trip. My breakfast of avocado and mixed nuts were wonderfully filling and kept me going until the afternoon. The bottle was too small though. There were not that many water spots in between the 2 huts so a 1,5 l bottle would have been better.
- 1 jar of peanut butter, 300 g
- 3 avocados
- 3 pears
- 1 apple
- 1 can of lentils
- 1 bag of beer nuts, 385 g
- 1 bag of mixed nuts, 375 g
- 1 bottle of water, 600 ml
- 1 fork and spoon
- 1 metal cup
There was cellphone reception in the beginning and towards the end of the track. I hardly use my phone when I tramp, so it was switched off the whole time.
- my cellphone + charger
- 1 headtorch
Hut tickets can be bought at any DOC office or I-site. They were only $5 each.
- first aid kit
- 1 candle
- emergency blanket
- 1 roll of toilet paper
- book: Hard Times by Charles Dickens
- 2 Hut Tickets