Abel Tasman National Park

Renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs, and the world-famous coast track, Abel Tasman is New Zealand's smallest national park yet home to some of the country's most diverse birdlife, marine mammals, and fish communities.  Located at the northern tip of the South Island, Abel Tasman employs temperate weather year-round, so I decided to go with a full-day kayaking tour to Big Tonga Marine Reserve with Kaiteriteri Kayaks.  Unfortunately, since I was the only individual to book the Big Tonga tour, Kaiteriteri Kayaks canceled on me the evening before and booked me onto the Kayak, Seals, and Cruise tour, which consists of a half day of kayaking followed by a boat cruise and self-guided hike.

Split Apple Rock

We kayaked roundtrip from the shores of Kaiteriteri beach to Split Apple Rock, which took about 2 hours.  After returning to Kaiteriteri, we boarded a cruise to head out to Anchorage, which is the heart of the national park.  The park itself is only accessible by kayak or water taxi.

The water taxi docked on Anchorage Beach.  During the summer months, there could be as many ass 40 vessels docked.  But during the winter, we were the only boat.  While many decide to spend the 2 hours chilling on the golden beach, I decided to go for the 1.5 hour Pitt Head loop track to Te Pukatea Bay.

Anchorage Beach
The hike takes you through a forested peninsula from Anchorage Beach to the Te Pukatea Bay through the Pitt Head loop.  The terrain is mostly moderate to easy, and fortunately the weather held up with no rain.

It was quite the feeling having all of Te Pukatea Bay to myself, which is what happens when you go there during the peak of winter.  No crowds, no noise, and best of all, no disturbances.  The Pitt Head itself has campgrounds with running water and picnic tables.  During the summer, the campgrounds fill up fast but there was nobody camping at this time of year.  After the hike, the water taxi to us back to Kaiteriteri beach.

Overall thoughts

It was great having Te Pukatea Bay and Anchorage Beach all to myself, but disappointing that I wasn't able to experience the whole schabang tour to Big Tonga Marine Reserve.  Whereas the reason for canceling the tour was valid, being notified literally at 8 pm the night before is unacceptable on their part.  I'm sure Abel Tasman had a lot more to offer, but this day tour was average, and I wouldn't care to do it again.  All in all, I wouldn't recommend taking the 7-hour drive between Hokitika and Abel Tasman.  Whereas the park is beautiful, it's reminiscent of many of the other coastal scenes that I have experienced before in Taiwan's West Coast, Hokkaido, and even California.


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