Jan 17th: What I now know about Abel Tasman is that it is a place of my dreams, it was a place I had seen in photographs that to me always seemed dream like and not of any specific location, and it was something I imagined I would find in the deepest woodlands and Lakeland’s of Canadian or American national parks, I had not seen or thought I would find it in NZ but we did, It is a true Garden of Eden.
Some of you probably question this label considering other locations in the world, dream like locations such as the islands of the Caribbean or Indonesia, the Maldives or the Seychelles, even the fatherland of Mauritius. But what Abel Tasman gave to me was a raw and unadulterated landscape that brought forests and sculptured rock faces down to the oceans edge, beautiful blue waters, amazing beaches, some accessible only by water and a real chance to be amongst it all by kayaking the national park from one point to another, no return trip, just a one way rugged journey through an amazing landscape.
Like most of New Zealand a lot of what we did was unplanned and was done as we happened upon things or by recommendation. Abel Tasman and subsequently kayaking was a recommendation I am glad we opted to do, it was an amazing experience and to decide to go one way was also a big decision as we would have about 6 hours of Kayaking ahead which ended up being about 10km of paddling, which sounds a lot on paper but it is not for a couple of casual kayakers like Steph and I.
We started the day at about 10am in a double Kayak and set off on our paddle through Eden. The aim was to go from Marahau to Anchorage, the weather was amazing with blue clear skies and there was close to no wind, but with a moderate breeze of 15mph predicted for the Afternoon.
The day was amazing, we were able to access and visit some beautiful beaches, bays and coves and also a couple of Islands along our route! We had packed food and drink for the journey so as and when we fancied a snack or a photo opportunity or simple walk we would turn and face the beach or cove we happened to be near and paddle in. This allowed for some fantastic scenery and most of the time it would be all to ourselves
One of the things that we did not really think about as I mentioned earlier was the 15mph winds, now to the lay man on land and walking the streets or countryside that’s not such a strong wind, but when you in a little sea kayak paddling becomes a little tougher!
On our Kayak is a map so we can navigate and there are little section’s of waves that you don’t really notice (below highlighted by the large red arrow)
Who knew these sections meant rough seas in windy whether!?! Well not us and afterwards reading the very very small print it states don’t Kayak these sections around the headlands in Extreme winds!! What constitutes extreme winds I ask? Because I tell you something, according to Beaufort 15mph means a moderate breeze, but when you’re in a Kayak it feels like Gale force winds, we felt like the Queen Mary going through the Drake Passage in a bad storm just on a smaller scale!
But when all was said and done this section was tough but we enjoyed it, a good bit of tough paddling got us through it with some sea spray in our hair, although being at the front Steph bore the brunt of the waves breaking on the bow!
After this battle with the elements we paddle closer to one of the bays that had been recommended to us, Te Pukatea Bay, it is only accessible by Sea or by a long trek so only a few folks are there each day, what can I say as we paddled round the headland and into the bay we were greeted with a beautiful sight, that I will leave the photographs to convey:
We spent about an hour or so at Te Pukatea Bay, we took about a 3km hike up to the other headland for the view back down to where we landed as seen above and also into the next bay where our next destination and end point was Anchorage, and again the scenery was just stunning.
Once we had marveled at Te Puketea time was getting on and we were on our way for the last section round the headland into Anchorage, once we were in open water we hit the wind and those ‘little’ waves on the map, we paddled and steered our way through the swell and rocks to round the headland and into relative calm and the wind behind us, we cruised for a while and hit land and another fabulous beach! Success, we had done it! Here we rested and soaked up the sun and the scenery for a couple of hours until our limousine a.k.a. the Abel Tasman Water Taxi took us back to base