After battling through the miserable West Coast of New Zealand, we broke through a passage of mountains to encounter azure blue skies and tropical weather (compared to Queenstown in winter). Long days driving next to a misty violent sea being beaten by perpetual rain, were at the end greeted by the visceral magnificence of Abel Tasman National Park.
The area has only ever been inhabited by New Zealand’s native Maori people, due to a “misunderstanding” between the Ngati Tumatakokiri tribe and the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who first found the area, and after which it has been named. The Maori had responded to the noises of the ships with war cries, and seeing the white men on the boats, feared they were evil fairy folk come to steal children. However, as it was kumara season when Captain Tasman first arrived, and while Maori tribes were usually quite open to negotiation and treaties, it is more likely that they were protecting their most resourceful crop. Regardless of the reason, the misunderstanding has ensured the entire area of 22,530 hectares remains unspoiled.
While in the region we decided to do an Abel Tasman National Park Kayak Tour with Kahu Kayaks. In conjunction with Sea Shuttle we did the Beez Knees Tour which cost $175NZD each.
The journey began with a bus to the edge of the National Park. The only access points to the park are by foot or on water. So we kayaked for the first part of the journey. Distances art sea are deceiving and we got tired pretty quickly but there were plenty of resting spots along the way. Our first stop was at an island which was moving with the birds that lived on it. The noise in summer is deafening, but they were quite quiet when we visited. Crystallized caves formed hollows on the rocks that you could swim through if you don’t mind passing by pregnant and nursing fur seals and their pups, who sunbathe on the rocks.
For lunch, it was tea and sandwiches on a sandbar in the sea. Resting on a felled tree trunk, feet up on a log, we watched the sea passively bury the sand until it was disappearing at our feet. So we packed up and hiked the last nest part of the journey. The rough track was immersed in native New Zealand foliage and exotic birds and insects. The hike took us to the top of a hill, where the trees thinned out and you had an impressive view of the entire area. Back down at the beach, we awaited a boat to take us back. And a sunset cruise along the Abel Tasman coastline was the perfect ending to the day.
The hike took us to the top of a hill, where the trees thinned out and you had an impressive view of the entire area. Back down at the beach, we awaited a boat to take us back. And a sunset cruise along the Abel Tasman coastline was the perfect ending to the day.