Getting more sun hours than pretty much any other part of New Zealand, the Nelson area is always busy. Or so we thought. In winter, we found out, it’s as laid back and quiet as any other place we went to.
Mr A had specifically wanted to go kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park and because I had such fond memories of doing this on my very first trip to NZL back in 2003, I immediately agreed to make it a priority on our (mental) to do list.
We booked a day trip with Abel Tasman Kayaks which allowed us to kayak in and walk back, therefore covering both anticipated activities in one day. They picked us up (as always, on time) and drove a whole van of us to ATK HQ in Marahau, where we got geared up and ready. Wet suits, booties and even fleece were provided and we loaded our walking gear and personal belongings into the kayaks while waiting for the rest of the party to arrive and getting a thorough safety briefing.
There were 5 of us – plus two guides – each way and soon we started our journey. A traktor pulled us out toward the water. The tides vary greatly in this area and the difference between high and low tide will be as much as five metres – on a flat beach, this means a lot of walking – or in our case of being towed by a traktor.
It was a beautiful winter morning, the air bearing more moisture than we were used to (which basically means that we were shivering). As soon as we were on the water though, all cold was forgotten. As always, I was in the back seat (i.e. steering, i.e. in charge) and after a quick intro on how to paddle best we got on our way. It didn’t take long for the first seal to pop up its head next to us and check us out before diving back under.
We crossed towards Adelie Island, a bird sanctuary, and took in each moment of the unique mix of nature and silence only the remote outdoors will give you. For most of our way the only sounds were of birds (bellbirds, the odd tui, sea gulls), the light splashing of the waves and whatever noise we made ourselves. There were barely any boats around (in stark contrast to summer, when the Abel Tasman NP is crowded).
After about three hours on the water we gently landed on a secluded beach where the walk-in persons were already waiting for us – and for the pre-packed lunches that had been stowed in our kayaks.
We gobbled up our sandwiches (They had even prepared vegan lunch for me! Including a brownie!), enjoyed the hot coffee our guide Harley produced, and soon started our (walk) way back to Marahau.
Walking the Abel Tasman is as spectacular as kayaking it. The views just never cease to amaze. The beaches are among the most beautiful I have ever seen, I love the flora of temperate rain forests and the colours, oh the colours.
When we arrived back at Marahau, we weren’t nearly done walking.
Therefore, we scheduled a water- axi for the next day – for a couple of more hours of hiking
This time, we were dropped off at Bark Bay and walked – once more southbound – towards Anchorage where we were picked up in the afternoon. Again, we were lucky with the weather and enjoyed brilliant sunshine and – relative – warmth. Despite favourable tides at Torrent Bay we chose the long route around the settlement (rather than crossing the bay via the beach) and added a detour to picturesque Cleopatras Pools before heading to Anchorage.
Altogether, we completed two days of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track on two separate days, enjoying literally each step of our walks.