Neighborhood Travels

New Zealand, Part 4: Abel Tasman Kayaking

My daughter, Halley, and I believe that sometimes you just have to try something different. So  she and I, neither of us brilliant swimmers, agreed to sign up for a sea kayaking adventure in Abel Tasman National Park.  Of course the night before our outing the wind was howling and the rain came down in sheets.  Would this excursion really take place?  Only one way to find out, be up and waiting for the bus which was scheduled to pick us up at 7:00 the next morning.

A Stormy Morning at our Hotel as we Wait for the Abel Tasman Coach
A stormy morning at our hotel in Nelson as we wait for the Abel Tasman Coach.

The ride out to Kaiteriteri was pleasant in spite of the misty rain. We rode along through farming country and our bus driver mentioned all the vineyards in the area.  The Marlborough region is noted for its wines.  The weather was improving when we arrived at our destination.  The dreaded wind had died down, the sky was clearing and the excursion was still going ahead as planned.

Kaiteriteri where we checked in
Kaiteriteri where we checked in.

Time for our moment of truth; there would be no turning back now.  (Besides, the bus driver had abandoned us) We checked in with  Michelle, our guide, and then boarded a boat that would take us up to Torrent Bay.  Oddly enough that little stretch of land is privately owned and surrounded by Abel Tasman National Park.  The only access is by boat.

After the short cruise we disembarked, we stowed our gear, and prepared to be educated.  Michelle gave us detailed instructions as to how to dress, how to steer and how to get into a kayak.  Oh, and how to paddle as well.

Our Guide, Michelle, Demonstrates how to get into the Kayak
Our guide, Michelle, demonstrates how to get into the kayak.

This is a good time to mention that we didn’t take our expensive cameras with us on this outing.  Instead we had the Olympus TG-4, a waterproof camera, which served us well.  My daughter took many of the images in this story mainly because she started out with it and we couldn’t really figure out how to pass it back and forth without dropping it into the bay.

We were a group of four tandem kayaks and before long we were paddling along pretty well.

Kayaking on Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman National Park
Kayaking on Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

This was surprisingly fun, and relatively easy.  The weather was perfect.  We skirted the shoreline for perhaps 30 minutes or more; it was difficult to keep track of time.  Then we paddled across the bay to a beach called Anchorage, where we landed and had a picnic.  Yes, I was able to stand up and get out of the kayak.

Michelle provided hot drinks and lunch and we had snacks and water in our dry bag.  There was plenty to eat.  We also had a bit of time to wander and stretch our legs.  A welcomed change after sitting in the kayak.

Anchorage and a stream flowing into Torrent Bay
Anchorage and a stream flowing into Torrent Bay

As we walked about we heard lots of birds in the forest but had trouble seeing them.  They were difficult to spot tucked up in the branches but we definitely saw a couple bell birds.  They had such a sweet sounding call.   Oh, and there were ducks and a weka, also known as the forest hen, visiting our picnic area.  Halley and I had seen a weka early in our trip and wondered what it was.  Now we know.

Weka near our picnic table at Anchorage
Weka near our picnic table at Anchorage

Soon it was time to head back.  There was only a short stretch of water to cross in order to get back to our starting point.  We stayed close to shore and saw some seals sunning themselves and birds looking for shells to crack.

We paddled up onto the beach, not as successfully as I did at Anchorage but we made it.  Then we helped pull the kayaks up onto the racks.  Once everything was tidy and our belongs had been gathered, we were ready to meet the boat that would take us back to Kaiteriteri.

There were lots of people waiting for that boat.  Evidently it picks up campers and hikers as well as our tiny group of intrepid kayakers. I was following one of the kayak company employees down to the beach and when he said walk on out into the water, I didn’t hesitate. My daughter and I were already a bit wet so what difference did a little more make? The rest of the folks looked on in disbelief.

Campers and hikers slowing realize that they have to walk on out to sea.
Come on in. the water’s fine!

I admit I hadn’t expected that, and I certainly didn’t expect to climb into the back of a zodiac inflatable boat.  But if that is how it is done then that is the way we did it.  Into the zodiac, then out again and into the water at another beach!  Then finally the real boat came and we went on board.  Yay!  At last we were heading for Kaiteriteri.  Time to change into some dry socks and boots.

That was a premature decision.

The Vista Boat drops us at Kaiteriteri
The Vista Boat drops us at Kaiteriteri

The skipper did give us a couple minutes warning that he couldn’t pull into the regular landing spot and we would have to walk through water.  “You will get wet!”  Halley and I quickly changed our footwear and were the first in line to disembark.  I think everyone else was too stunned to move.  And the photo above wasn’t the end of it.  We splashed around some large boulders before actually arriving at the beach.

What’s all this mean?  I don’t know.  Be prepared?  Be flexible?  It was a marvelous day not only because of the improved weather but because we did things we had never done before and thoroughly enjoyed the adventure.  Did it matter if we were a little wet?  Not at all.  That was part of the fun!

To see more photos of the great kayak adventure click here.



Elizabeth Boatman

Traveler, explorer, memory maker and someone who's just downright curious about stuff. It's all about finding joy.

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