In early November, Lindsay and I were lucky enough to squeeze in a three-day paddle of Abel Tasman Park before my guiding season got busy. Living in Golden Bay gave us the luxury of being able to explore the northern, quiet part of Abel Tasman at our pleasure.
Most visitors to the park start their journey at Marahau and end at Totaranui – the northern extent of the water-taxis in the park. Golden Bay Kayaks is the only kayak tour operator in the northern section and the only company that allowed people to kayak the entire park – including the dreaded Separation Point!
Despite the bad forecast, we got a late start and did not get to Separation Point until near 130PM. The water was calm and flat and fur seals were playing in the low swell.
We left Tata Beach late in the morning and paddled past the islands and through the arch. We crossed Wainui Bay and began making our way into the most remote and beautiful parts of the park.
Mutton Cove and Anapai Bay in the northern part of the park are two of the least visited and most beautiful sections of the coast. We had them to ourselves and they were truly stunning!
Despite some warnings, Awaroa Head is a beautiful stretch of coastline. There are no beaches, but there are dramatic headlands, bluffs, and large boulders. The coastline is rugged and feels primeval, it is also far away from the Abel Tasman Great Walk and finally feels remote.
We pulled into camp at Mosquito Bay – which we thought would be quite isolated as it was boat access only. However, the opposite was true! There were many kayakers and about five people had been dropped off by boat.
Oh well, the area was beautiful and large enough to accommodate a lot of people comfortably. The sun was out and it was a gorgeous evening.
The second day we enjoyed more sublime paddling, but due to the length of our first day (30km), the second (15km) and third (10km) days were quite short and relaxing. Lindsay had school work and I used the extra time to hike and read about the area.
We stopped at Te Pukatea and walked over to Anchorage Bay and out to Pitt Head Lookout. We could see whitecaps in the distance, but they never moved their way in. We camped the second night at Observation Beach after doing a loop of Motuareeronui (Adele Island).
The third day was an easy cruise across Sandy Bay in front of Marahau to check out the iconic Split Apple Rock. The rock was very cool and we showed up just in time to have it to ourselves without the tourist boats out of Kaiteriteri.
From the rock, we paddled in towards Marahau and Lindsay enjoyed a nice little surf – and capsize! – on the way to the boat take-out, where we met our ride and went back to Golden Bay. This would be my last time out of Golden Bay until March!