After spending some time in the Nelson/Richmond area at The Pear Orchard Lodge, I hopped back on the Kiwi Experience bus to begin my trip down the west coast of NZ's South Island. We started at the tiny town of Kaiteriteri, where there are maybe 5 restaurants and a hostel or two. Having a minimal village is all you need to set off on your outdoor activity of choice. There's sailing, long and short walks, mountain biking, and water taxis. I chose a combo: kayaking, followed by a 4 hour walk back through the national park.
Beautiful, clear, and calm, I had the perfect day to kayak 3 hours from the golden sands of Marahau to Watering Cove in Abel Tasman National Park. Mark, at Kahu Kayaks, was an excellent guide, making sure everyone was well looked after and had a good experience.
Beyond the obvious beauty of the area, a surprising treat was pulling up to Apple Tree Bay for a coffee break. While I went for a dip in the water to cool off from the hot day, Mark prepared freshly frothed milk and french press coffee on the beach for our group. I'd heard of such luxuries, but hadn't experienced them before. Yes, it was as wonderful as it sounds.
We then took off for a ride to Adele Island, where we managed to see a couple of seals hidden in the rocks. Just opposite the island, we paddled to Watering Cove beach where we left our gear for the company to use for another group to reverse our journey.
After a picnic lunch, we began the 4 hour, 6 km trek back to the kayak company, but it didn't take long before we realized we needed to double the distance. Our leisurely walk quickly became a 12 km sprint back to the bus that would pick us up and deliver us back to our hostel.
An older couple in the group took the water taxi back. While the taxi is a helpful alternative, I recommend the walk back.
Abel Tasman has well maintained trails, beautiful views, and little side paths down to small beaches.
Once you exit the park, there's The Park Cafe offering real fruit ice cream, or you can visit the Fat Tui for a burger. (I haven't tried one myself, but hear that they're good.) It's in this area where you'll find Old MacDonalds Farm for what sounds like nice accommodation and is in close proximity to the park.
Abel Tasman links and tips:
Nelson/Richmond map from The Pear Orchard Lodge
Kaiteriteri has golden beaches and a small town with a handful of food options.
Marahau to Watering Cove map of the coastal beaches.
Abel Tasman National Park has excellent trails and views, along with toilets at some beaches
Kahu Kayaks was helpful, knoweldgable, and suited the day to the needs of the group.
Adele Island has nothing to do with the singer, but you may find some seals and birds.
The Park Cafe offers a full menu, ice cream, and much needed water.
Fat Tui is supposed to have great burgers.
Old MacDonalds Farm is a nice place to stay, close to the Abel Tasman park entrance.
Pack a lot of water. We ended up bringing an additional group bottle, and finished it all.
Clothing. The sun is more intense in NZ because of the thin ozone layer. Consider wearing a long-sleeve shirt, even on a hot day. I wore a thin long-sleeve black shirt, along with a light summer scarf to protect my neck, a big floppy hat for my face, and of course, sunglasses (or as Kiwis call them...sunnies).