Blast from the past: Abel Tasman National Park

Our last trip to Nelson and the stunning Abel Tasman was six week’s after the birth of our first daughter, Charlotte. It was a trip down memory lane for Dan and I; as we’d spent a memorable trip independently kayaking the Abel Tasman. The Nelson region is simply stunning. With a mixture of beach (Abel Tasman National park) and alpine scenery (Nelson Lakes National Park) it has something to suit the tastes of anyone with a love of scenery.

The fine weather in Wellington this week has brought back many happy memories of our travels around New Zealand. Over the coming weeks I’ll be posting about some of the most beautiful New Zealand beaches we’ve visited in the new ‘Blasts from the past‘ category. When we first arrived in New Zealand, in the mid-1990’s, we tagged all our annual leave onto long-weekends and planned meticulously to make the most of our time. We’d travel on a tight budget and experience so many wonders of natural beauty. Little did we realise at the time, but New Zealand was finding a place in our hearts.

Now, with young children, we aren’t able to take off and kayak, ski or walk for endless days; but holding onto the memories in our hearts helps us plan a vision for the future. As our girls grow we look forward to introducing them to the wonders of New Zealand’s great outdoors, one little step at a time.

In the meantime, we’ll step back into our memories…

The beauty of kayaking is the kayak takes all the weight off your shoulders and leaves you free to enjoy the outdoors in relative comfort! An added bonus is being able to carry a wee dram or two and after we’d packed the kayak with the mandatory sleeping bag, tent and food we proceeded to load the most valuable cargo – the vino! However, for those that prefer to keep their feet on dry land the Abel Tasman Coast Track, which we looked up to from the water, is without doubt one of the ‘Great Walks‘ of New Zealand.

The Abel Tasman is a must if you love golden beaches set against vivid green vegetation rolling down to the crystal clear sea (and the odd seal or two near Tonga Island!).

There are several kayak companies offering a variety of packages giving you the choice of either a guided or independent trip. We opted for the independent trip and felt extremely chuffed with ourselves on the first night as we outwitted our fellow kayakers and found a deserted beach to camp on (we also visited in April, out of the peak season of Jan/February). There is nothing else quite like camping under the stars, on a balmy night, whilst the sea gently breaks on the beach in harmony with the call of the seals in the distance. It fills a person with an immense sense of freedom and Dan certainly felt free as he danced under the shadow of the moon in all his naked glory (sorry, no pictures!)!

We spent three wonderful, tranquil days kayaking the Abel Tasman and in that time we explored beautiful lagoons at high tide, shared laughter with the seals around Tonga Island, ate fresh, hand-picked, mussels at sunset whilst sipping a glass of wine and playing ‘torch S.O.S.’ with fellow campers! At the end of those three days we spent an evening of luxury at the Awaroa Lodge. I’d recommend this to anyone who doesn’t like to spend too long away from great food! I certainly had withdrawal symptoms and the delights they produce from the kitchen at Awaroa Lodge are not to be missed (though since we stayed there, a good few years ago, the prices have escalated!).