Trip reports from paddling the shores of Abel Tasman National Park; one of the most iconic sea-kayaking destinations in the world.
Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand’s smallest National Park, but has the most most visitors by far – and for good reason. Visitors are greeted by stunning golden beaches; lush, subtropical rainforest; sculpted granite rock formations; and diverse and curious marine and bird life. The Abel Tasman region is also blessed to have the most sunshine hours in the entire country.
For those visiting, sea kayak is the best way to explore the park’s nooks and crannies and get up close to the wildlife and away from the crowds. Abel Tasman is one of the few shorelines in New Zealand not exposed to the open ocean. It is sheltered by Farewell Spit, and although swell rarely sneaks in, it can often get quite windy, so pay attention to the weather!
Kayaking is also a great way to explore the offshore islands at Tata and offshore by Marahau, as well as the numerous headlands that the track bypasses. On trips in the Abel Tasman we saw countless species, including: little blue penguins, New Zealand fur seals, Hector’s dolphins, Common dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins, and orca whales.
Unfortunately for most people they miss the northern section of the park due to transportation and access issues. Bluntly put, this is a mistake. The section of the Coastal Great Walk from Totaranui to Wainui Bay is the nicest section of the track, and the most isolated. Plus it ends in Golden Bay, a must see if you are visiting New Zealand! If you decide to go on a multiday trip, do yourself a favour and hire a boat from Golden Bay Kayaks, the only company that allows you to paddle the whole length of the park, including the stunning northern section near Separation Point and Awaroa Head.
Make sure you also check out all of our hiking trips in New Zealand!