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Home > Treks > ATNP > Day 6 > 6.3
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To Anchorage

Torrent River
 
 

LOOKING from the bridge upstream the river followed a straight line gently flowing over small boulders. The water was an ochre colour but not dirty. On either side stood tall black beech trees with the distinctive honeydew smell. Magnificent silver tree ferns created a lower canopy, some specimens were right at the waters’ edge.

Torrent River Bridge
Torrent River Bridge

Looking downstream the river deepened into a black pool as it rounded a bend just past the bridge.

I crossed the bridge and followed the trail against the steep bank. There was the odd view back to the bridge from the track as it rounded the bend. It was not long though before I could see out into the estuary. By now much of it was flooded with the rapidly rising tide. There was still a fair way to rise though. After another five minutes I could see across to the Torrent Bay Village. The estuary had almost completely flooded by now in very clear water.

Torrent Bay Estuary
Torrent Bay Estuary

The sand bar was still sticking above the water and several small boats had moored themselves around the back of it to be sheltered. A few kayakers were now exploring the estuary looking so serene. It was now too deep to cross.

The track commenced a moderately steep ascent towards the Anchorage Hill, leaving the coast not to return until Yellow Point a good hour away. I rose about fifty metres before finding a rough side track leading back to the estuary.

Upon reaching the estuary I followed a path through the reeds. At this point I was across the river, so I knew wading across the remaining inlet to the low pass across to Anchorage would be very easy.

Torrent Bay Estuary
Torrent Bay Estuary

The trail followed the lower part of the river before it fanned out into the main estuary. A couple of kayakers were heading upstream to explore the river, perhaps to walk up to Cleopatra’s Pool. The water around the large clumps of reed was an orange ochre colour from the river. It was clean though.

The water was never more than knee deep heading directly across to the point where the large bluff cutting off the estuary reduced from a maximum of one hundred metres to about ten metres. Over this low pass is the track to the Anchorage.

The crossing to Anchorage
The crossing to Anchorage

The sand was softer towards the little cove that the gully held itself in. I knew the other side of the cove was quite muddy. Otherwise the rock formations here were very interesting full of character. Trees grew right to the water’s edge leaning out over the estuary. About ten metres out from the track entrance was a large rock with a couple of small gnarled trees growing on it.

A young couple were sitting on the rock no doubt waiting for the tide to go out. They will be waiting quite a while though. Shortly after I arrived they decided to return to the track heading over to the Anchorage. At the top of the low saddle is the start of a steep track that eventually joins the track that I started climbing up. This will get them across to the village, but it will be a long way from here. They should have perhaps taken the way that I had come across.

Rocks at the edge of the estuary
Rocks at the edge of the estuary

I rested here for a while before heading up the track across the pass. The track was steep but well-constructed. I stood at the top of the saddle before commencing up the rough and steep track towards the other track. I only walked about a hundred metres though, hoping to get some good views of the Anchorage and of the Torrent Bay estuary. I only got one reasonable view of the estuary through the thick scrub that covered the trail.

Upon returning to the saddle I decided to head down the other way to the end of Anchorage Beach. I will be camping at the other end of the beach tonight, but that was nearly two kilometres away across the sweeping beach.

Anchorage Beach
Anchorage Beach

There was quite a substantial swell breaking on the beach. It was not living up to its name today. By now nearly all the cloud had cleared from the sky but there was still quite a cold nip in the breeze. With the tide in so far there was no point in exploring the nearby caves in the large headland. The water was discoloured with ochre from the Torrent River outlet on the other side of the long bluff.

I had once explored the bluff from the other end hoping to eventually make it back to this end. It turned out to be a very difficult scramble and I stumbled into a bird nesting area and knew if I was to advance any further I would be attacked by the nesting birds. I had therefore retreated knowing there was no way around the rocks any further. This was a huge bluff.

Torrent Bay Estuary
Torrent Bay Estuary

I returned across the saddle to the peaceful and sheltered estuary. The water was quite a bit higher now, and very close to the peak of the tide.

The tide did eventually start going out. It was time to head across and get my pack to return to Anchorage. I was starting to think now that perhaps I should have come straight across here whilst the water was shallower, set up camp at Anchorage, then return to the estuary to explore later. I was committed though.

I set off wading through the shallow water. The tide wasn’t substantial though. It was already late afternoon so the tidal range wasn’t very great. I would still be able to make it across to the other side.

Torrent Bay Estuary
Torrent Bay Estuary

The water started to deepen as I approached the river, seeing the dark strip of where it flowed at all tides. There was a short drop into the cool chest deep water as I waded across the stony bottom before rising again on a sand bank. The top of the sand bank was already starting to dry out, but the sand here was rather soft.

I continued wading through the channels until reaching the other side at the Torrent Bay campsite. The far side of the estuary had been filled with large sand banks with the remains of shells covering it.

Yacht moored at Torrent Bay
Yacht moored at Torrent Bay

Upon reaching the campsite I walked to the clump of trees where I had put my backpack earlier and put it back on. Seeing that the tide was now quickly retreating I returned to the estuary. There was a man there looking after his boat. He told me the water was still too deep to cross. I knew better though. By the time I will reach the main river the water won’t be any more than thigh deep.

I proceeded across the estuary and sure enough the water in the main channel was little more than knee deep. That shows how quickly the tide rises and falls here, and this was quite a low neap tide.

Dried estuary
Dried estuary

By the time I reached the far side of the estuary, it was mostly dry. There were just small puddles of water left in the small depressions created from years of countless footprints on the compacted sand. Sluggish small streams flowed down the lowest points channelling the remaining water back into the main river.

By now the sun was getting quite low in the sky, so I knew it was time to head to Anchorage to set up camp. I walked across the steep saddle, then commenced the long walk along the beach, eventually reaching the entrance to the hut.

Anchorage Hut
Anchorage Hut

Anchorage Hut is a bit older than the others – except obviously Whariwharangi. It was about two thirds of the size of the Bark Bay Hut and has a verandah out the front and some washing had been hung out to dry. Beyond the hut was a small wooden bridge over a small swampy creek. On the other side of the creek was a large grassy camp ground. There were quite a lot of tents here, but being one of the last to arrive for the day, I was able to find a nice quiet spot in the short grass to pitch my tent.

Once the tent was pitched, I returned to the hut and back out on the beach. The sun was still shining, but it won’t be long before it sets behind the hills.

Anchorage Beach
Anchorage Beach

A patchwork of mid-level alto-stratus cloud was sweeping across the sky to the north east. It was moving from the south east indicating the south easterly still hadn’t fully blown itself out yet. The sky was still clear to the west though, and the sun lowering itself in the sky still had some warmth to it that I hadn’t experienced in several days.

Offshore at this end of the bay were a number of yachts anchored in the moderately deep waters. Although the other end of the beach was exposed to the daily sea breezes, this end of the beach was nearly always calm, hence the name of the beach.

The beach was originally named Brown’s Bay.

With the air getting colder I returned to the tent. It had been a long day coming here all the way from Onetahuti. Exhausted I quickly fell asleep.

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11 January 2007

 

Abel Tasman Nat Park

New Zealand

 

40°57'S
173°03'E
0 - 25m ASL

 

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