Isolated beaches, sandy coves, tree-studded ridges where a waterfall’s trill competes with the call of the bellbird and tui —this is New Zealand’s Abel Tasman National Park on the South Island. You’ll find plenty of active travel adventures here, including some world class hiking. Choose from two tracks: One leads inland up forested slopes beside granite outcroppings. The other and more famous, Abel Tasman Coast Track, alternates between golden beaches and lush rainforest.
If you don’t have the time for an extended backpacking trip, take a day hike. That’s what Alan and I did.
First, we enjoyed a smoked fish with avocado salad lunch at Park Cafe in Marahau. Then, our guide, Robert Panzer of Tailored Travel, drove us to the parking lot of Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi where we boarded our ride. The boat, complete with passengers, was attached to a tractor that pulled the vessel down the road and into low tide. Once afloat, the boat zipped through the water depositing day hikers and backpackers at various stops in the park.
At Apple Tree Campsite, the boat backed towards shore, the captain extended a ramp and off Alan and I walked without getting our feet wet. After admiring the beach, we found the path that climbed a hill to the beginning of the two-hour trek through a misty peacefulness back to Marahau. Waterfalls rushed into gurgling streams, birds darted through the thick tree canopy and curves in the path presented us with dramatic sea views.
The artsy town of Nelson makes a convenient headquarters for visiting the area. Our accommodations at Shelbourne Villa put us within walking distance of downtown shops and restaurants as well as a fun Saturday market.
Next time, we’ll try kayaking for a different look at one of New Zealand’s natural treasures.
Planning a trip to Kiwi land? Read about our New Zealand travel adventures to start your research.