Abel Tasman National Park is the smallest jewel in the crown of New Zealand’s national park network (22,500 hectares) yet it reflects a unique identity among the much larger, more mountainous parks. It encompasses kilometres of idyllic golden sand beaches washed by the tidal flows of Tasman Bay, linked by an easy walking track of exceptional standard, alternating between hidden coves, estuaries and spectacular granite outcrops. Offshore lie numerous islands punctuating the broad sweep of Tasman Bay, providing sanctuary for seabirds, seals and penguins.
Our 9 metre launch is large enough to handle all sea conditions in the park comfortably, but small enough to enter all the lovely estuaries at higher tides, enabling you to see the lush native bush up close. We stop to view the wildlife of the park along the coast, which includes colonies of the New Zealand fur seal, blue penguins, shags or cormorants, plus on occasion, dolphins and orcas.
Our specialty is providing you with the opportunity to walk on different sections of the delightful Abel Tasman Track with our experienced guide, tailored to your fitness and desired length of walk. The boat is your’s for the day, and while we walk, the skipper takes the boat ahead to meet us at the end of that section of track. We are not at the mercy of a schedule, and the day is tailored and flexible to suit both you and the conditions (weather and tides).
Looking down toward the sea from the track while walking, you’ll see the brilliant blue-green of the water and golden sand set against luxuriant forest and tree fern, with a feeling of being on an island paradise. Looking inland however, the park presents a different profile, with dense forested hills rising steeply to 800 – 1100 metres, drained by rugged watersheds which fall to the coast through deep gorges and impassable waterfalls. The park has an interesting history, with Maori settlement, Dutch and French explorers, before being settled by English settlers in the 1850′s.
We choose a private sheltered bay for lunch, setting up comfortable beach chairs, table and sun umbrella to enjoy a delightful lunch prepared by our chef.
Your Simply Wild guide can collect you from your Lodge or Hotel by luxury vehicle at a time that is convenient to you, in either the Nelson or Motueka area, before driving to Stephens Bay near Kaiteriteri to meet our fast launch.
We suggest boarding the boat at Stephens Bay around 10.00am. This means we collect you from your accommodation around 9.00am in Nelson, or 9.30am in the Motueka area.
We are generally back at Stephens Bay around 4pm, getting you back to Motueka area about 4.30pm or Nelson by 5pm.
Collection from your Lodge, Hotel or other accommodation by luxury vehicle and return at the end of the day.
A delightful picnic lunch with wine & beer available.
The boat & skipper only price assumes you will make own your way to Stephens bay near Kaiteriteri, and provide your own lunch.
How far are the walking sections?
Awaroa to Bark bay is 11.5km and generally takes between 2 1/2 and 4 hours to walk.
Onetahuti to Bark Bay is around 4km and takes around 1 1/2 hours.
Awaroa to Anchorage is 21km and it is possible to walk the distance in 5 – 6 hours.
We tend suggest walking the Awaroa or Onetahuti section as there generally less walkers on this section, and we like the views and perspective of the park.
What is the track like and what kind of footwear do I need?
The track is well formed with a firm surface, at least a metre wide in most places. It climbs from sea level with short climbs over low coastal ridges at times, providing great views of the park. Light walking shoes or trainers are ideal footwear. Boots are not necessary. Teva or similar sandals are fine, although the fine granite sand can be a little irritating when it gets between the sole of your feet and the surface of your sandal.
What else do I need for the day?
Shorts or light quick drying trousers, light wool or polypropylene travel shirt or T shirt, light fleece jacket, light windproof jacket, cap or hat, sunglasses, day pack, swimming costume, towel, camera, suntan lotion, insect repellent. We have plenty of spare clothing in our vehicle and can provide most items for the day such as daypacks if you require them. We do not have shoes.
“I’d like to be able to do some sea kayaking during the day. Can I incorporate this and how long does it take?”
We suggest that it’s best to walk prior to lunch, then sea kayak in the afternoon. We usually recommend kayaking from Bark Bay back to Anchorage. This takes around two hours depending on your ability and the sea conditions. In the afternoon in Abel Tasman there is often a sea breeze and kayaking back along the park to Anchorage means we take advantage of this, with the breeze at our backs. We have the option of a private trip, in which case the timing is up to our schedule, or joining with an existing trip, in which case you may be joined by other kayakers. The latter option is cheaper, however we have to fit in with the trip schedule.
Where do we sea kayak from and how long does it take?
If we are combining walking and sea kayaking, we tend to walk from Awaroa or Onetahuti to Bark Bay and then sea kayak from Bark Bay to Anchorage. The kayaking takes around 2 hours.