About a 6 hour drive from ChCh to Marahau. We set up camp and had a nice seafood dinner on the bay as we watched the tide roll in.
We work up early for our kayak briefing, and were on the water by about 10. We were in for a 2 day kayak/2 day walk (more like 1.5/3.5) from Marahau to Totaranui and back out again (most people just do the track one-way and water-taxi either in or out, but we like a challenge).
Though the A.T. Great Walk is through beautiful bush and provides stunning mountain and ocean views on its own, adding the kayak element is definitely the way to go. There are countless private bays to rock up to and hang out, with your very own golden sand beach all to yourself. Please we got to see several seal colonies (with lots of pups!), and enjoyed not walking the entire way out and back on the same track.
Our first day was absolutely perfect weather – warm but not too hot, sunny, and calm, bright turquoise water.
Our first campsite was a “kayak only” spot, and we had to share it with only one other pair (a remarkable feat on such a popular track!).
We got up for a sunrise breakfast and to make the most of day 2 kayaking through the marine reserve. We had to drop the kayaks off by 3:30pm and wanted to see as much as we could. The water was much choppier than the day before (making me a bit queasy!), but it was fun to battle some big waves and make it out a bit farther.
After dropping off the boat, we took off walking further north, about 3 hours or so to our campsite.
We had to time the low tide in order to cross some of the bays.
That night we ended up at another campsite with a great beach – it turns out you really can’t go wrong with campsites there!
On day 3 we walked further north to Totaranui, where we hung out for a couple hours on the beach before turning around and beginning our walk back south. It was a 20km day – not too bad but we were definitely a bit tired by the end.
The park was filled with the native Weka, a funny chicken-like bird that was very tame and constantly trying to steal any food that it could!
The views were seriously unreal. I don’t think it could possible have been any more beautiful. We kept asking, “Is this real life?”
Sunset on night 3, at our final campsite looking out towards Tonga Island.
We were up for sunrise yet again, as we had a huge day ahead of us. We were in for 26-28km (depending on tidal crossings) of steep ups and downs as you went from bush to bay to bush to bay and back again.
By midday I was so pooped I barely took any more pictures, but it was still a lovely walk and we miraculously made it out of the park by about 1:20pm (a treat, considering we thought we’d be walking until around 6!). We stayed at a cool backpackers in Motueka that night before driving back to ChCh the next day.