Home > Hiking > Tasman


The last region of my journey is here. Tasman on the borders to the sun loving Marlborough. The west coast was soaked in rain and now I’m hoping for many sunny days.

Table of Contents

Traverse Sabine Circuit

In the heart of Nelson Lakes National Park lays the 80km long Traverse Sabine Circuit. Even though you mostly hike in a “flat” forest region, you will cross during the alpine route the 1787m high Traverse Saddle. You can either start from Kerr Bay or from Mt. Robert car park.

John Tait Hut

Because the route is ending at Mt. Robert car park, I left my car there. To reach the beginning to John Tait you have to walk back 1.5km on the street, before you delve into the woods. From the parking lot you pass a distance of 24km to reach the hut. It’s a long trail, but mostly flat and only a minimal gain to 800m altitude. If you want to shorten the distance you can stay halfway at Coldwater Hut. Moreover all the huts on this circuit, besides Angelus Hut are non bookable! Comes first, serves first. Therefore you have to buy hut tickets at a DOC Visitor Center.

I’m always trying to take as minimal as possible with me, but I planned for 5 nights and the food is getting really heavy. You don’t have to worry about drinking though, all the rivers along this trail have possibly the most pristine drinking water in New Zealand. But you still have to boil the set rainwater at the huts. Take enough fuel with you.

Although I took a one week rest from hiking, my soles really wanted my attention. I always put blister pad on my heels, but after arriving at John Tait right beside my heel on the sole transition, I got stained with a half a centimeter high blister. During hiking not really a problem, but still annoying. Naturally the rain greeted me. It seems that I brought the bad weather with me. The rest of the week should have at least nice weather.

Tangatas Journeys - Lake Rotoiti
Lake Rotoiti in St. Arnaud

West Sabine Hut

Now the alpine section starts. To get to West Sabine Hut you have to cross the Traverse Saddle. This means a long day (20km) and a great height difference. Again you have the chance to break this route apart. You can sleep at the Upper Traverse Hut, 3h from John Tait.

The brochure says 3h to the next hut and from there 6 - 9h to West Sabine. Because it’s my first time here I planned a 10h day. Therefore I left the hut at first sunlight around 6:45 a.m. The 3h until the hut are calculated really good, I took my 2.5h. Unexpectedly, my legs started to lightly tremble at 8 a.m.; a bad omen.

At Upper Traverse I applied sunscreen, now the sun is burning onto your neck. The path up the saddle is perfect and not to exhausting. Definitely the easiest hike up to over 1750m. Mueller Hut and Cascade Saddle were another league. After 1.25h I already reached the top, now the hideous descend to 600m begins.

It may have been my sore legs or my heavy backpack, but this descend was torture. The roots in the forest are very slippery and I fell at least 3 times. I even gone diving with my right shoe for the first time during a river crossing… Moreover I stopped many times to rest, even though I always stick to my constant speed theorem. I really don’t know where my fatigue is coming from. After 5 painful hours I finally arrived at West Sabine; this was only walking time without the breaks.

I looked at my recorded measurements and left slightly shocked. Yesterday I burned 3200 calories on the easy day und today 4000! During my 40km escapade I only used 2500 calories. A slight difference in average, perhaps I have to follow Plan B. Initially I want to visit Blue Lakes, maybe the clearest lake in the world and go back to the hut. On the next day descending down to Sabine Hut and on the following morning, going up Mt. Cedric to reach Angelus Hut. Besides Sabine everything quiet exhausting with up to 1200m gain.

But as it seems, I will sleep at Sabine Hut tomorrow. Afterwards Speargrass Hut and on the next day finally finishing the circuit. Safer and easier variation for completion. Excited to see what my legs tell me tomorrow. It’s safe to say, that this will be my last multi day hike in New Zealand.

Sabine Hut

As you can tell by the caption I’m going to Sabine Hut. I always warm myself up and stretch a bit, before starting my hike. This morning everything was unpleasant and this was my sign for Plan B.

This section should have been “easy”. The path is good, but it’s going up and down. Therefore these 16km won’t be my anticipated rest. Moreover, there was a river crossing were the stones completely submerged in the water. Removing socks and shoes I waded over the chilly stream. For this rare occasion I always have a microfiber towel with me. After this cold shock my journey continues over hills and under trees.

After 4h I luckily arrived at the hut. The stretching afterwards was even worse than in the morning. Moreover Sabine Hut is situated at Lake Rotoroa and no river is nearby and I’m definitely not drinking lake water. Therefore you have to first boil you drinking liquid.

Tomorrow one final ascent to the 1060m high Speargrass Hut and afterwards the last 2.5h back to the car park. Hopefully I can rest well. Keen to know, if tomorrow will be a dreadful section.

Speargrass Hut

On the next sunrise your route starts along the lake. There’re many fallen trees which will block your path. Afterwards the first ascent begins. A steep passage over sticks and stones, which will end in a flat and thick forest.

The middle part is really relaxing, just watch out for the orange triangles, because sometimes the forest looks exactly the same. A game of hide and seek with the markers. Beyond the labyrinth there’s only one final ascent to the hut. Not really steep and many flat spots. That’s why it only took my 3.5h.

Speargrass Hut is located in an open field surrounded from high grass. The name says it all. This hike was an unexpected rest for me. Which I don’t mind at all, my legs are really stiff and near a cramp. Stretching is next.

Tangatas Journeys - Speargrass Hut
Speargrass Hut

Tomorrow one short walk back to the car park and everything ended well. It’s very disappointing that I couldn’t get a glimpse on the sights, for which I done this tramp. But if your body revolts, I cannot brute force my way.

The northern peak of the South Island is waiting.


On my way to the northern peak there are plenty of sights to discover. The Kahurangi National Park is dominating the view beyond the horizon and if you take a small detour from the street, you can visit Harwood Hole. A beautiful path along the woods, the nearer you get to the bottomless abyss, the more roots and limestone are hindering the way. Once you reach the hole take care, there’re no safety barriers.

Tangatas Journeys - Harwood Hole
Harwood Hole

My body is screaming for rest anyway and therefore I will visit my next day trip. I’m guest upon Farewell Spit Tour. It takes around 6.5h along Cape Farewell until the lighthouse of Farewell Spit. Unfortunately we didn’t stop at Wharariki Beach. Therefore I cannot copy a famous starting screen of Microsoft. During the tour you will get an overview about the history and some funny little stories what happened during the era where the lighthouse needed 3 wardens.

Abel Tasman

The next Great Walk is ready. The first European saw the coasts of New Zealand in 1642. It was the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who tried to go off shore at Golden Bay. After a dispute with the Maori he named it “Murderous Bay”. Later coal was found so it was called “Coal Bay” and finally the first gold in New Zealand was discovered and that’s how it got its name. After my last multi day blunder I won’t wear my hiking boots. Moreover, I never anticipated to walk along this shore. After some hut chats with Kiwis, I made this decision. You do Abel Tasman not for the bush, but for the beaches. And beaches are not my main interests.

Therefore I can leave the heavy backpack with my mat and tent. A day trip is enough. I booked mine with Wilsons. A boat tour along the complete shore and 4h independent walking. From Medlands Beach to Anchorage Bay. This trip will even cost less than a multi day adventure, including camp site and transport.

Although there was absolutely no wind, in the coast, the boat trip was sometimes really uncomfortable. Wind was storming into your face and that’s why I was sitting around halfway in the protective deck. During the tour you will stop at all sights, like Split Apple Rock.

Tangatas Journeys - Split Apple Rock
Split Apple Rock

After travelling along the whole coastline, tramping begins. It’s a Great Walk, therefore the path is in superb condition. Generally speaking the walk is pretty easy, just don’t underestimate the constant up and down. Shortly after Cleopatra’s Pool the intended way is blocked and you have to cross a small river. Simultaneously a new bridge is built. It’s safe to say, that I arrived way to early in Anchorage, but used my time to walk up Pitt Head. All in all, Abel Tasman is really reminiscent to Croatia.

As always, you can view more pictures in the gallery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *