First full day in the National Park, and decided I’m going to hike along one of the easier tracks. There are several options, and I eventually decide to take an Aqua taxi to Torrent Bay, hike to Onetahuti, and get a taxi back.
(In hindsight, I should have gotten a taxi to Onetahuti and walked the distance back, but Stray offer a ‘Seals and Sand’ ticket for $74 and I thought I’d give it a shot).
We’re picked up from The Barn by bus and driven 5 minutes down the road to Aqua taxi. How it works is fairly simple – you buy your ticket and wait for a driver to call out your destination/tour, and hop on. Sadly some girls in my group misunderstood the taxis and thought it was more sailing/sightseeing, so held us up a while as they decided whether or not to do it. This becomes an even bigger problem when 2 girls still chose to do the walk, as they weren’t wearing the right footwear.
The first stop is a first for all Aqua taxi’s – hopping over to check out Split Apple Rock. This was a large spherical granite rock that split into two, and is something of a local attraction. At low tide you can walk right up to it.
Next stop on the way was the seal colony on Adele Island. We can only get so close as the seals are protected, but we saw a few New Zealand fur seals playing in the water, sunning on the rocks, and even caught site of a pup.
Once we made it to Anchorage, we could choose to get off here, but it would add 90 minutes to our trip (only 30 at low tide). But if we stayed on, it was only 5 minutes by boat. We head along the beach, and head up the shorelines hills.
Within minutes it’s clear the Dutch girls who thought there wasn’t much walking are in trouble. They’re both wearing fancy flipflop style sandals which can’t handle the muddy parts – I’m barely capable in my keens.
The first leg is mostly uphill, and odes afford you same great views of the shore. About halfway along this route to our first beach, we get a break at a river hosting a deep pool – water was bitterly freezing, so we settled for dipping our toes.
The next piece of excitement came as we were making our way to Bark Bay, and had to cross the Falls Swing Bridge. It’s so tight only one way traffic is allowed, and only 5 at a time. Due to a traffic jam on both sides and a truly impressive number of photos, it took forever to cross.
When we made it to the beach, the girls cried uncle and decided to get the next taxi back from there. We wished them luck and kept moving onward. Despite being pretty sure we were meant to walk in the forest, they took a shortcut across the beach when they saw this in the distance.
Of course, this also meant walking through the knee high rivers of water, so by the time we were on the hill, our legs and bottoms of our shorts were soaking. Did cut 30 minutes off our trip though.
The boys quickly take off and leave me behind, but I just try to appreciate the walk that comes after the very steep hill climb. Along the way I spot some goats on a high rock, and a few small hidden beaches along the way.
I make it to Onetahuti by 1:30, four hours later. It’s a beautiful beach with impressive rocks forming a cave which I braved only to get caught by how dark and tight it was) and even more goats hunting for salt.
Our taxi was scheduled till 3:30, but one was arriving at 2, and we decided we’d try our luck getting on. As it was, we managed to grab a few seats, and made it back with over an hour to kill.