Everyone told us that Abel Tasman National Park was a must-do / must-see in New Zealand, and I strongly agree! This gorgeous and nearly untouched park spans over dozens of bays of golden sand, 140 sq. miles of lush green bush, crystal turquoise ocean water, and a handful of islands with fur seal pups. We chose to explore both land and sea; first kayaking from Marahau to Anchorage Bay (roughly 4 hours) and then bushwalking/hiking back (12km/8mi – 3 hours). My arms feel like Jell-O as I type this up…
We chose to rent a tandem kayak and go “freedom kayaking” rather than a guided tour, since each of us have kayaked a fair share before and preferred the independence and ability to go at our own pace. It was a good call! We cruised around Adele Island to check out the fur seal pups, pulled ashore at Observation Beach for snacks, and stopped as we pleased for selfies.
Kayaking took a total of four hours (although including the lunch break) from Marahau to Anchorage Bay. Before curving the point into Anchorage Bay, you have to pass through what is known as “The Mad Mile” where northerly winds can turn the area into quite a nightmare. I overheard a guide say that 90% of capsizes happen over The Mad Mile. Luckily, we were blessed with a southerly tail-end wind today to peacefully push us along for the ride!
Hiking back from Anchorage to Marahau took about 3 hours, with a mostly flat bushwalk tramping path with some hills here and there. Early on the track are a few spectacular lookout points to give a reminiscent glimpse back at what you had just kayaked through.
We only explored for one day, but Abel Tasman has so much more to offer. If you find yourself in the area, look into multi-day options of kayak rentals or bushwalking, as there are multiple campsite and huts or even lodges to stay at along your way. Bonus, there are frequent water taxis that travel the complete Abel Tasman coast, so you could hike/kayak far up one-way and have an effortless taxi ride back down to Marahau.
What we packed:
- Cheese and cracker snacks (vintage cheddar, peppercorn, dutch smoked and dutch gouda to be exact)
- Two apples
- Protein bars
- Nut/snack bars
- 2.5 liter water
- Digital camera
- Selfie stick 🙂
- Sarong for picnic
- Extra socks in case original pair get soaked in kayak
What we wore:
- Hayley – quick dry workout pants, tank top, long sleeve and waterproof North Face shell jacket and sunhat.
- Shaun – hybrid board shorts, t-shirt, raincoat shell and beanie.