We walked from Wainui to the Whariwharangi hut on the Abel Tasman coastal track yesterday. (I have heard it pronounced ‘Farifaringee’). The hut is an old farmstead built around 1896, inhabited up to 1926 and converted in 1980 as accommodation for trampers. It sits in a green clearing approached along a sandy track through a tunnel of spindly Manuka trees.
We climbed the ridge above the golden sands of Wainui spit stopping frequently for the breathtaking views over Wainui and Takapou bays with their shallow waters reflecting the sky. Over the ridge we descended through darker podocarp woodland, sandy cliffs on one side of the benched track and steep drops into dense undergrowth on the other. Well camouflaged weka birds crept in and out of the bush while cheeky fantails darted around us.
The hut sits in a grassy clearing with a small campsite beyond. This is, apparently ‘one of the best huts’ but it is still quite basic with communal, slatted sleeping platforms, a few bunks and a cooking area. To stay here one would need to carry more gear than I could easily manage and this does limit my access to the longer Golden Bay tracks which are mostly multi-day hikes.
The beach just beyond the clearing was spectacular with several white-breasted shags bathing in the shallow lagoon behind the dunes. (Probably pied shags). Beaches here have long stretches of bleached driftwood – branches, treetrunks and sometimes complete root systems making natural sculpture on the sand.
We walked 11.6km in around 3 hours.