Marahau was the end of the paved road and the start/end, depending on direction of travel, of the hiking track in Abel Tasman National Park. The common process is to take a water taxi to your desired starting point and hike back to Marahau; you can go as far away as a five day hike back. We chose a full day hike distance, and so take the taxi to Bark Bay.
The taxi departure was interesting in that it was low tide, and the water is too shallow for the boat till about 250 yards from the shore. So what to do ? All aboard the boat & leave the boat on a trailer and tow it out to deeper water with a big farm tractor. And there are half a dozen tractors out in the bay accommodating all the hikers going to different destinations. At the disembark you take off your shoes and walk a short distance thru the surf to the shore. Shoes back on and start walking.
The track is well marked, and proceeds up & down hills and around various bays, and over streams & rivers, but mostly up & down hills. There must have been 6 or so hills more than 300 feet high, and another 10 or so between 150 & 300 feet high; the total vertical ascent / descent for the day was about 8,000 feet. My pedometer indicated we walked 22 kilometers in 29,000 one foot in front of the other steps. Luckily much of the track was thru shaded forest, and so minimized exposure to the direct sun. And we were able to walk across the Torrent Bay Estuary at low tide, and so reduce the track distance by about an hour. We did have to remove our shoes to cross a stream flowing through the low tide estuary, but that was a bare foot pleasure !
The final section was across a couple hundred meters of foot path bridge crossing an estuary/marsh, and realizing we were at the end was a welcome relief. That was a long day of walking and the 'puppies' were beat. Sitting on a chair, shoes off, feet up and a cold beer in hand was the next order of business !
It's now back to Picton to drop off the rental car and take the ferry back to the North Island & Wellington. On the drive there we stopped in Havelock, The Mussel Capital of New Zealand, and had some delicious fresh mussels.
I wonder if there will be as many one way bridges on the North Island as there were on the west coast of the South Island ? Those were unique; especially the kilometer long ones crossing large rivers. Those bridges had two 'pull-over' alcoves/bays so that two vehicles travelling in opposite directions could pass by each other, and the bays were long enough to accommodate a tandem tractor trailer combination.
The South Island is a magical place full of natural wonders, spectacular sights, wide open spaces, not many people or cars, and LOTS of sheep & cows, especially sheep.
Ciao for now