Sea Kayak, Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
After a night at the Ashley Troubadour Motel in Motueka, on the north coast of New Zealand’s South Island, I plan a one-day sea kayak trip along the coast of Abel Tasman National Park. This is the country’s smallest national park, yet it’s also one of the most accessible, and popular.
We paddle around nuggety headlands where the sea sloshes and sucks at granite shelves, past gannets arrowing into the water, past seals and beaches stained with iron ore, which gives them an enticing golden colour. There’s majesty in this place, and the cockpit of a sea kayak is the way to see it. Despite the weather, I regret that it isn’t longer than a day trip.
A kayak will get you places where nothing else but a helicopter can, with a payload that hikers can’t even consider, like fold-up chairs, an espresso coffee maker and bottles of sauvignon blanc. Of course, in Abel Tasman National Park you won’t be alone. This is the most popular sea kayak spot in all of New Zealand, and since the number of potential campsites is limited on these wild shores – and you might be sharing them with hikers as well – things can get a little tight.
In the afternoon we raft our five kayaks together, hoist a nylon sheet and sail from Adele Island across the broad mouth of Sandy Bay. At the southern end of the bay we paddle around in some caves by Split Apple Rock, which is truly wondrous, a granite sphere perhaps five metres high which has been cleaved straight through the middle. There are mugs of hot chocolate waiting for us when we get back to the beach at Kaiteriteri and we say our farewells. For a soggy day, it had turned out just fine.