Imagine a vast expanse of soft sand where the whispering sound of the waves is only interrupted by the birds quacking persistently, as if demanding to know what you’re doing in their home, fur seal families lazily sunning themselves and a track that takes you through spectacular coastal scenery. The Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand’s South Island is all this and so much more than what I’d first expected.
Ever since I first started researching and planning our New Zealand road trip, I’d been smitten by the paradise like photos I’d seen of the park. The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is one of the country’s nine ‘Great Walks’, tracks that take you through some mind blowing and diverse scenery. The entire country is a dream for hikers and lovers of the outdoors. Considering how much I was looking forward to making the trip to the Abel Tasman Park, I was not happy when the skies opened up on our second day in the sleepy town of Nelson, our base to explore the area.
Fortunately the next morning we woke up to a clear day and we were on our way for a full day trip of kayaking and trekking in the Abel Tasman National Park. Passing by the famous ‘Split Apple’ rock, our water taxi arrived at Apple Tree Bay where we were to begin our guided kayaking trip exploring the Astrolab Roadstead area.
We met our friendly guide Richard and after a brief set of instructions, we were kayaking in the calm crystal waters of the Tasman Bay. We explored the islands and caves as Richard pointed out a colony of fur seals and talked about the different birds native to the park. The area is unbelievably gorgeous and kayaking there is almost therapeutic. As we got close to Adele Island, listening to the birdsong was an awe inspiring experience. I remember thinking to myself, “I could spend all day just kayaking around these islands”, but after two and a half hours of kayaking, Richard was guiding us to Watering Cove where our trip was to end.
We said our goodbyes to Richard, after he handed us our packed lunch and a map for the unguided walk on the coastal track. He was nice enough to recommend an alternate route that was slightly longer but would be more scenic. As the sun was beginning to shine brightly, we slowly peeled off our layers and settled down on the beach for a delicious meal of spicy chickpeas wraps, sweet potatoes and salad.
Then, we were on our way. We walked through lovely scenery of native bush, and came across scenic viewpoints looking over the sandy beaches. After walking for the next hour on the low tide coastal track to Torrent Bay, we arrived at Anchorage where our water taxi was to pick us up. For a long time we were the only people on the entire stretch, except this little guy who insisted on quacking away around us even as we stretched out on the sand to hear the sound of the waves.
We can highly recommend the Cruise and Trekking combo, even better if you add the kayaking option. While there are various half day, full day and multi day guided and unguided tours available, you can also choose to explore the park independently. Overnight accommodation is available in D.O.C Huts, campsites, lodges and beach resorts but these operate seasonally and require advance bookings. If you have limited time, consider an Abel Tasman National Park Cruise.
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