Running the Abel Tasman Park Coastal Trail

My friend Liza was coming to New Zealand for a visit and to watch Ironman N.Z. A great athlete, who I met through the TriCats Triathlon Club, I suggested that as part of her tour she visit us near Nelson and either go sea kayaking or join me for a run of the Abel Tasman Park Coastal Trail. In the end she opted for the trail and my wife Lis organized a great day. Liza, Gary (who was travelling with Liza) and I would run the 32 km from Awaroa to Marahau, while Lis and our other friend Anke would hike part of the trail. So at 9:30 we boarded a water taxi at Kaiterteri on a perfect day for a visit to the park. Anke got the photo of us below before boarding.

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The Abel Tasman park is on the north west coast of the South Island.  It has golden beaches, amazing rock outcrops, and a great trail along the coast. The water taxi drops hikers off at strategic points along the trail—and collects them—with many taking two to three days to do the trail hike. Since Liza and Gary only had one day in the area running is the ideal way to see it. Frankly, I can’t be bothered walking/hiking. I prefer running—a sentiment which Liza echoed.

The boat took just under two hours to reach Awaroa. As you can see from the photos below, it was a great trip.

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We disembarked at Awaroa and started our run. It was a short start since we headed over to Awaroa Lodge which is premium accommodation and has a brilliant cafe—but expensive! Everything has to come in by boat. I told the story of the time I ran the other way with my friend Ruan and didn’t tell him about the lodge. After 32 km he was bonking and in very poor spirit, but he was overjoyed to find the cafe and enjoyed a break and refuelling. Since we were just starting we didn’t stop today, but it really is a great oasis.

We did the run at an easy pace with Liza in the lead and myself generally in the rear. The photos below show what it was like.

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There were places where we had to cross the water. Liza found it a bit cold, but Gary and I found it refreshing. It was great to run along the golden beaches.

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There was one suspension bridge to cross where we got some great photos.

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We bumped into Lis and Anke who were enjoying the hike. That was a nice surprise. Lis even condescended to give me a kiss—very unusual when I’m exercising!

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The trail was getting busier and we often hat do run around people. Fortunately the trail was in excellent condition and it was just such a pleasure to run in such a wonderful place.

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Some Israelis took the photo below as we approached Anchorage.

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As we approached the end we were ready for a break, but still enjoying it!

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We finally made the end of the trail after just over 4 hours of running. Not bad for 32 km…

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There was a cafe in Marahau and Liza bought me a nice cold drink. I then started walking/jogging towards Kaiteriteri where I had to collect the car. I was also trying to hitch hike and after a while I was collected by a French tourist who kindly took me to where my car was parked. I went back to Marahau, collected Liza and Gary, and then back to Kaiteriteri where we then met Lis and Anke who had caught a boat after their hike.

We headed to Motueka and then had a great dinner at Hot Mama’s Cafe before heading home.

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To close the day, we watched the movie Running the Sahara about three guys who ran across the Sahara from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. I had last seen Liza at National Geographic in Washington D.C. where they discussed the film and showed clips, but she had never seen the whole thing. It was a great end to a great day—watching some seriously crazy runners :-)

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