Kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman Kayak
Abel Tasman National Park

Last Updated on September 18, 2018 by Natasha Amar

Here’s what it was like to do the Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk in the Abel Tasman National Park.

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 when I signed up for the Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk.

Kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park: Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk
The Abel Tasman National Park

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.

Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk

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.

Split Apple Rock- Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk
Split Apple Rock
Richard setting up the kayaks- Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk
Richard setting up the kayaks

We met our friendly guide Richard of Kaiteriteri Kayak and after a brief set of instructions, off we were in the calm crystal waters of the Tasman Bay. We explored the islands and caves and Richard pointed out to 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.

Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk

Fur seals: Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk
Fur seals

Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk

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.

Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk

A beautiful view: Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk
A beautiful view

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.

Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk

Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk


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.

Thank you Richard! Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk
Thank you Richard!

Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk


You can check out my itinerary for two weeks in New Zealand. For general info to plan your trip, see my New Zealand Travel Blog.

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Here's what it's like to do the Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk in the Abel Tasman National Park. Walk the gorgeous coastal track and kayak to seal colonies.



This post is linked to the #WeekendWanderlust series hosted by A Brit & A Southerner, Justin Plus Lauren, A Southern Gypsy, Carmen’s Travel Tips and Outbound Adventurer


Some links on this page are affiliate links, which means if you use them to book, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you, which goes towards running this blog. That said I never recommend tours, accommodations and products that I wouldn’t book or haven’t booked myself.

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  1. says: Jameela Deen

    First time i read this post was on my mobile, didn’t quite appreciate how amazing the pictures (and the place itself) looked. I keep hearing about 2 countries these days when it comes to spectacular beauties: Iceland and New Zealand… i would love to try both one day. Seems like they can really take your breath away… but i’m more a lazy traveller so i may miss some of the places you’ve discovered on your Kayak.

  2. says: Veronika

    Oh you just totally inspired me to take a trip there..! It sounds like a great experience and the scenery looks beautiful on the photos. Good you got such a good guide and enjoyed the whole experience. Wasn’t it too wavy for the kayaks or was the water rather calm?

  3. What an awesome trip, I love kayaking and that looks like such a beautiful area. (Amazing pics!) And you saw fur seals in the wild too! Glad you had a good time there, it sounds like you had a pretty decent guide though, and they can make or break an experience sometimes.

  4. says: Em

    I’m planning on heading to NZ next year for a road trip with my friend. Reading this has made me even more excited! Can’t wait to see some of the beautiful places you’ve described 🙂 nice article

  5. says: Sandra @ Tripper

    Wonderful experience and one more must-do to add to my New Zealand list (I have so many lists these days of places I want to visit).

  6. says: Claudia

    I have a friend who is obsessed with kayaking. I must share this post with him. He is a backpacker and loves adventure, he would be up for it!!

  7. says: Karen Warren

    I was very briefly in the Abel Tasman National Park earlier this year and found it fabulous. We only walked a tiny part of the trail (we arrived late and I had a horrible cold!) but I am desperate to go back and walk more of it. So I’m very envious of your kayakking trip.

  8. says: Revati

    New Zealand is so high on our list right now! And to see that you saw those elusive fur seals and kayaked! Wow. Done a bit of Kayaking in Australia and it was such a fun experience. Definitely going to give it another go in NZ!

  9. says: Elena

    Abel Tasman is my favourite great walk in NZ and one of my favourite places there too. i didn´t kayak there but saw lots of people doing it and it looked very nice.. We walked a lot though, I remember we had to wake up at crazy time in the morning because of the tides and river crossing…Was fun though

  10. says: Marie-Carmen

    Love the seals! They seem to be having suchhh a hard time!
    Kayaking is probably one of my fav activities too! So much fun (even more when I leave my other half to do all the work) and you get to see some gorgeous things!

  11. says: Carmen (CarmensTravelTips)

    We love to kayak, especially if we have a chance to see some wildlife along the way. I panic when we kayak in the ocean sometimes because of the waves. Tasman Park looks like a wonderful place to kayak in those crystal clear waters. Thanks for linking up to #WeekendWanderlust?

  12. says: Lauren

    I’m in love with kayaking! It looks like such a beautiful place to kayak as well. Thank you so much for sharing and linking up with #WeekendWanderlust! We hope to see you back again next week! 🙂