One country should not be allowed to have this many stunningly beautiful places – but New Zealand continues to not be very good at sharing.
Abel Tasman National Park is yet another example of its selfish ways.
After disembarking the famous Cook Strait Ferry we set foot on New Zealand’s legendary South Island for the first time with big expectations. As much we had loved the North Island all anyone could say was that the South Island ‘was better’.
With how much the North had blown us away I had my doubts but at this point I’d learned not to underestimate the land of the Kiwi.
We spent the first night not too far from where we left the ferry to let Jenna get over a nasty stomach bug she’d picked up just before we left Wellington. We had some leftover ‘stomach bug’ pills from Kilimanjaro so she popped a couple and began her two day recovery.
On the drive there we came across a really cool rock in the middle of some really turquoise water – I obviously screeched the van to a halt and took a few snaps.
While Jenna toughed on through, I piloted Liberty up through the city of Nelson to the famed Abel Tasman National Park. Named after the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who was the first European to lay eyes on the islands, the park consumes the northeastern-most corner of the South Island and is known for its electric turquoise water, stunning white sand beaches and remote natural environment.
So remote that we had to navigate 17km of gravel road which is really not good for a van. Especially not a rental van. And most especially not for a rental van whose insurance does not cover you on gravel roads.
But I digress.
We arrived at the campsite and found it was nestled in next to the Tasman Sea – I feel like this is becoming the norm for our campsites. And I’m not complaining.
Jenna was still feeling rough but insisted that I go explore the surrounding hills, which we heard held some pretty cool hikes. So as the good boyfriend I am…I took off into the hills and left my sick girlfriend behind.
It ended up being a grueling 4 hour hike but provided some truly spectacular views from up high and down low.
I got back to camp to find Jenna feeling a little bit better so we cooked up some soup and turned in.
The next day we had to finally embark on what every visitor to Abel Tasman National Park must (should) do; kayak! The waters are just too stunningly beautiful not to!
So we nervously drug the van once again over the gravel road out of the campsite to a little company called Golden Bay Kayaks just at the edge of the park.
We were greeted by some typically friendly Kiwis who showed us the ropes on our duel-person sea kayak – then we were cut loose on the open water!
We were out for about 4 hours and there’s not much other to say than ‘wow’. The water is an absolute electric turquoise – and on the sunny day we had lucked into it was glowing even more than usual.
We cruised by several towering islands covered with chatty sea-faring birds who zoomed in and out as they commenced with the day’s hunt.
We then headed in towards the coast where we got up close with a seal sunbathing on an exposed rock; he could not have cared less about our presence as he did the seal equivalent of a spread eagle as we coasted on by.
Our journey then took us across a small bay to the most majestic spot of the entire day – Taupo Point. We had heard that this little beach was tough to get to with our half-day pass, but we made it a point to get there and hauled.
Worth it. I’ll let the photos and this video do the talking…
We hung out here for a couple hours, soaked in the sun and then headed back to home base. It was truly an amazing day – guess the South Island is off to a pretty good start.