Steve & I got engaged! WOOO!
If you would have told me a couple years ago that I would be living in New Zealand for the year, I would have laughed and said “I wish!” AND if you would have added that I would get engaged on a kayaking trip in NZ on a beach at sunrise.. I would probably have walked away from you shaking my head. But alas..
that just happened!
Although we are living in NZ, that unfortunately doesn’t mean that every day is a vacation. Steve works his US job full-time remotely..which means starting at the crack of dawn and working Saturdays. Our schedule can get a bit wonky.. and making the most of our time off together is a priority. So when he figured out that he could take a few vacation days I was all over it.. searching out every option for a memorable NZ summer vacation. I settled on a massive South Island loop from Dunedin to Abel Tasman via the east coast and then back to Dunedin via the west coast in just over a week. Whew!
Preparing to Kayak Abel Tasman
There are lots of options for kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park & it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out what is going to be best for you! There are a variety of guided kayak options available at Abel Tasman..but to be frank.. we sometimes prefer to not deal with people. haha So we choose to just rent kayaks and create our own itinerary.
If you aren’t confident in a kayak or don’t want to worry about planning all of your food and camping options.. a guided kayak tour is a wonderful option! I’ve heard amazing things about several guided tour operators within Abel Tasman.
We went with The Sea Kayak Company out of Moteuka for a 4 day double kayak rental. [They also provide parking, showers, and wifi at their base location.] The staff was friendly, funny, and knowledgable. They provided us with a large Dobbe Tuart fibreglass kayak and all the fixings.
Camping locations are all pre-booked with the Department of Conservation, and popular beach spots can easily be fully booked during the busy season. Make sure you check + book your camping options well in advance!
Going along with our preference to avoid mass amounts of people we decided to book at several of the smaller camping locations available.
Kayaking Abel Tasman
Camping Destination: Te Pukatea Bay on the “Mad Mile”
We arrived at The Sea Kayak Company in the early morning and were given a safety + weather brief before beginning to fill out kayak with our mass amounts of food + booze + camping gear. Steve and I have a habit of overpacking canoes/kayaks.. it feels like a luxury not carrying everything on our backs so we end up bringing just about everything we own. After a winding shuttle van trip north to Marahau we were ready to hit the water.
Off to a perfect start of sunshine + low wind. We worked our way along the coast first. [Mostly because every kayak that had just launched at the same time as us headed directly out to Fisherman Island + Adele Island.
Once camp was set up, we walked up to Pitt Head in search of a view + down to Anchorage Hut just to see what it was like [and to snag some fancy filtered water.] Anchorage Hut + campsite was absolutely buzzing..a huge school group of young boys were setting up camp. Great hut, but not for peace and quiet. Back at Te Pukatea Bay we got drunk on the beach..a perfect day haha
Camping Destination: Tonga Quarry
Our second day on the water took us past many stunning beaches + inlets + islands..but we decided to move pretty quickly up to Tonga Island and our camp spot of Tonga Quarry so we could kick back + blow up the tubes + and float. A very good decision.
After day one I didn’t anything could beat the beauty of our Te Pukatea Bay camp spot, but Tonga Quarry blew us away! Granted we did snag the best campsite looking directly out to Tonga Island with perfect hammock trees leaning over the beach. Our only annoyance was a nosy neighborhood weka who wouldn’t take no as an answer for his request of food. Pesky little buggers.
Night two we decided to set up the tent to keep our supplies safely away from the mice and weka, and sleep in our hammocks. With alarms set for slightly before the sunrise [there was no way we were going to miss it again], we slept like caterpillars staring at the stars.
Camping Destination: Observation Beach
Here is where my point of view is probably very different than Steve’s point of view. We woke up in our hammocks just before sunrise.. threw on some extra layers and started walking down the beach looking for a good rock to use as a tripod. The clouds were absolutely stunning and I was clicking rapidly trying to catch each and every colorful nuance as the sun rose steadily from the ocean. Steve suggested we take a few photos on timer so we could both be in them for once… Sneaky bugger! After a few attempts, Steve comes running back from the camera, but it is not beeping [which means the timer is not running] so I helpfully point this out in a slightly accusatory manner to which he replies that he’s trying something different this time [he switched it to video mode].. and that is when he proposed. I will never see a more amazing sunrise.
Day three we began to slowly double back towards Marahau, stopping in Sandfly Bay, Frenchmans Bay, and Torrent Bay on our way to camp at Observation Beach. The tide was in our favor and high tide was right at midday, allowing for us to leisurely explore all the nooks + bays along the coast. We were even able to spot a stingray directly below our kayak while floating in Torrent Bay!
On the north end of Torrent Bay you will see a large black hose floating around in the water.. find the end and you will have crystal clear spring water to fill all of your water bottles! Pure New Zealand magic!
Our final morning in Abel Tasman started out a little stressful with a rather intense high tide surprising us at about 1:30 am. I woke up very suddenly to the sounds of way-too-close waves on tiny Observation Beach. We had pulled our kayak up the small beach as far as possible and tied it to a tree, but we didn’t fully latch all of the compartments and our spray skirts etc were simply tucked in the seats. Steve being the amazing fiance that he is went from sound asleep to sprinting to the beach in about 2 seconds flat. He safely secured all of our belongings and fell back asleep almost immediately.
With our final destination of Marahau not too far from camp, we took it easy in the morning and slowly meandered our way down and around Adele and Fisherman Island before going beyond Marahau a bit to see the aptly named Split Apple Rock.
Four perfect days of sunshine in Abel Tasman!
Next Stop: Shower + Rock N Rata Cottage in Pohara