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November 2012 Issue
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Only at Onetahuti

Bark Bay Hut, 34 bunks; Awaroa Hut, 26 bunks; Onetahuti campsite; Tonga Quarry campsite
90min south of Awaroa Hut; or two hours north of Bark Bay.
Onetahuti, Abel Tasman National Park

South-east of Awaroa Inlet on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is the Tonga Roadstead, dominated by Tonga Island Marine Reserve – a dumpling-shaped islet guarding the mouth of the bay and marking one of the best, and remote, beaches anywhere on the coastal strip: Onetahuti.

Isolation is a moot point along this coastline, given that thousands of walkers trudge through here every year, but for all that Onetahuti is often quiet and deserted, an oasis of tranquillity along an otherwise busy coast. It also happens to be between-the-bays and walkers who come through here are usually headed to Awaroa Hut on the coastal track.

If heading south, then most will be planning to stay at the Bark Bay Hut, a large, modern, and comfortable structure located in another of the coast’s beautiful havens. However, there are two nicely located campsites near Onetahuti, one at Tonga Quarry which is about 700m south of Onetahuti, or the Onetahuti camp itself, situated right on the southern end of the beach.

Stretching in a shallow crescent, Onetahuti clocks up just 1.2km of fine golden sand and ends in the attractive, though sometimes deep and dangerous, estuary of Richardson Stream. Passing through here late one summer’s day with time on my side after a long walk from Anchorage, I paused to sample a few moments of quiet but soon found the setting, betwixt ocean and river, so agreeable that my short stay extended to more than an hour, allowing time to explore the beach and driftwood skeletons and wander barefoot back along the sands.

Torn between staying longer and continuing I had little option as I was only day tripping, but I certainly ticked off Onetahuti as a must-stay-camp one day in the not too distant future when I could sample its singular beauty.