From snow and ice to kayaking along golden sand beaches….
Our last stop on the South Island was Abel Tasman National Park. Another multi-day track, Abel Tasman Coast Track, is located within this park. The area was new to all of us, Stephen and I didn’t stop here on our previous NZ trip. The track takes 3-5 days to hike and maybe that is for another adventure. The park is known for its golden sand beaches, granite cliffs, estuaries, and lush native bush. There are multiple tidal areas, which change the landscape in just a few hours. It is the smallest of NZ’s national parks at 22,530 hectares. We were able to find an apartment in Marahau, essentially a village by the park’s entrance. There was a good burger food truck in the town, but no grocery store (that was 30 minutes away).
We had two days to explore this area and spent our time on day hikes along the Track, kayaking on the water, and enjoying the beautiful water.
On the first day, we took a taxi boat to Anchorage and returned to Sandy Bay and Marahau via Abel Tasman Track passing along several bays. The taxi took us to view Split Apple Rock before heading towards our destination. There are times when Split Apple Rock can be kayaking through or walked around (due to tidal waters). The most challenging section of the hike was the beginning climb out of Anchorage. It’s always better to have the tough part at the beginning of the hike! We had plenty of shade from the beech forest (although it was still a hot day) and plenty of bay views. We crossed babbling creeks and small waterfalls. We found a great little swimming spot along the way. We ended with walking through the marshland on a boardwalk. The kids were rewarded with ice cream and hamburgers for dinner!
On the second day, we joined a hiking/kayak tour. We were dropped off at Torrent Bay with several others and the plan was to meet at Bark Bay for kayaking after lunch. Luckily that meant we could hike at our own pace. Torrent Bay is an estuary and depending on tide it can be covered with water. Taxis can only drop off before noon since the tide is too low in the afternoon. We decided to finish the hike without stopping for swim breaks so we would have plenty of time at Bark Bay to eat and swim. Bark Bay is one of camp facilities for the Abel Tasman Track so we had access to bathrooms, picnic tables, and running water. Our hike was similar to the previous hike- some shade from the beech and manuka trees, incredible views, and swing bridges. The elevation changes were a bit more challenging but the hike was shorter than the previous day and both kids were excited about kayaking. The pathways are clearly marked and well maintained. After lunch, we kayaked around Adele Island and then “sailed” back to Marahua. Adele Island has become predator free and is a habitat for native birds and fur seals. We didn’t spot any birds, but we saw plenty of seals! You can visit Adele Island while kayaking, but there is no camping or overnight guests allowed.
The South Island of New Zealand has so much to offer. We thoroughly enjoyed every spot, every drive, every adventure. It would be hard to have a favorite because the experiences are so different. How can choose between dolphin swimming and bungy jumping and glacier walking and kayaking on crystal clear water? We are ready to return and explore some more! But first, we are returning to the North Island to finish our NZ leg of this trip.