International travel enthusiast and expat from New Zealand, currently living in Germany. https://indie-road.com
Published June 13th 2017
An intimate view of the national park
The Abel Tasman National Park is located in the north of the South Island, just a short drive from Nelson. It is named after Abel Tasman, the first westerner to discover New Zealand actually at the site of the national park, but he was scared off by the indigenous people before he could ever set foot on land.
The national park is a well-protected area of native bush and a natural habitat for many endangered and iconic New Zealand species. There are huge stretches of golden sand beach, crystal clear waters and luscious green forest, and despite being one of the most visited places in the whole of New Zealand, it is surprisingly easy to get away from the crowds and to find yourself isolated and alone.
One of the most intimate and enjoyable ways to experience this amazing location is by kayak. There are a number of different companies that offer a number of different packages ranging from single day trips to multi-day packages with campsite passes included. Most of these operate from Marahau which is located just to the south of the Park, but can also be found in Kaiteriteri.
One of the more popular options is to be dropped off at the top of the park and to then spend three days gently paddling southwards to a pickup location. Three days is more than enough to slowly paddle down while spending a lot of time relaxing on the golden beaches, exploring the little inlets and even completing some of the short hikes around Anchorage without any stress of missing the return deadline. The companies will always check your abilities before they leave you alone, and will thoroughly explain the map and different locations and where you should be camping.
Kayaking is so great because you are right next to the water, and, providing your kayak buddy doesn't talk too much, you can fully immerse yourself in the sounds of nature without any interruptions, and where you are so quiet, you are less likely to scare away any animals such as dolphins, stingrays, penguins and native birds. You can paddle onto almost all of the beaches without any problems and get away from everybody else. And if you do decide to camp, the isolated location provides an unbeatable view of the milky way on a clear night to mesmerise you as you drift off under the stars (I may have been too lazy to set up the tent one evening, and I have no regrets).