We don’t know who Abel Tasman is, but he has one hell of a park.

After a short two hour ride to Riwaka, we arrived to our air Bnb unprepared on how to spend our day. Riwaka is a small town within 15 minutes of the entrance of Abel Tasman National Park. We couldn’t check in when we arrived, so we got some advice on how to utilize our free time. Our hosts recommended an in town hike to their TV tower because it overlooks the park and the coasts that reside on either side. It was a quick 20 minute drive up the mountain switchbacks, and a drastically uphill 40 minute hike to the top. We got a better view and workout than a gym stair master routine. The added bonus to the embracing view was seeing dozens of paragliders running off the side of the mountain trail and floating high above us.

We had not eaten lunch yet and it was well past 1:00 so we drove down to the town of Marahau which is the last town at the edge of the Abel Tasman. We hoped we would find food to satisfy our growing appetite, but also scope the trailhead in anticipation of our hike the next day. (We wanted to see where the water taxis picked up in relation to the actual trail head so we could park closer to the trailhead if possible and avoid an extra walk at the end of our hike.) 

We found what we needed, except food, so we headed to the next town over called Kaiteriteri about 20 minutes away. Despite our hunger, we decided for a quick detour along the way at a landmark recommended by our host called Split Apple Rock. Turns out it was more than a quick detour because after a 5 minute drive and a 10 minute hike, we arrived at a quiet and stunning secret beach. Nate couldn’t resist swimming out and climbing on the split rock . The rock that naturally barricades the beach from the forest is granite which makes the sand in the Abel Tasman Park golden with streaks of black. The water can only be described as turquoise and the temperature as cool. Being a native Floridian and Nate a native Chicagoan we both have different comfort levels with water temperature (which is why I didn’t swim). I like my beaches like luke warm bath water!

By the time we got back to the car and got to Kaiteriteri, we were really ready to eat. Not much was open so we settled on a take away burger place. We took our burger (and veggie burger) to the beach across the street and ate with a view.
Because we were in a rural town for two nights, we drove to the closest grocery store and stocked up on food. We wanted to be able to grill out our first night, have lunch and snacks for our hike and an easy to prepare but hearty meal for after the hike. Finally, we got back to our air Bnb and spent the rest of the evening relaxing.
Abel Tasman National Park is known for its camping, hiking and beautiful beaches. There are no roads that go into the park but still many different ways to experience Abel Tasman.

  • If you like to “tramp”, a fancy Kiwi word for trail camping, that is the most adventurous option. You start at one end of park with all the equipment you need on your back and hike. It takes about 4 days to get to the other side. We were not equipped with the right backpacks, tools, nor the will. 
  • The next option would be to do a day hike into the park (4 hours) with your tent and pack and sleep 2 nights at one beach and hike back down the next day. 
  • Another option and the one we chose in Abel Tasman is hiking the collection of trails they offer.  You can hike for as little as 1 hour or up to 8 hours. The park is located on the water, so there are water taxis that you pay to drop you at your desired position in the park. You can take the water taxi in and hike back to the car park or take the taxi in and out. If you choose to take the taxi for both of your commutes,  you can spend your time doing hikes or kayaking in that area.

Our plan was to take the water taxi (40 NZD each) to Bark Bay and hike out of the park. This was a full day event, since the taxi takes over an hour and the hike back takes six. 

They tow you out with tractors during low tide!
The hike is along the coast and up the hills on a nice path that is wide enough for two people at most times. It can be really cool under the trees but eventually the effort of going uphill warms you up. We both wore sneakers, since hiking boots are not something we packed and we both wore hats to keep our face protected from the sun.

Nate wore shorts and a T-shirt but I
prefer to do long hikes in pants like these Lulu Lemon Joggers, I also do layers like a tank and something long sleeved. 20160304_105555.jpg

We brought one backpack that carried our sunscreen, sandwiches, trail mix, granola bars, clementines and 5 waters (2 frozen). We checked before we left to confirm if access to water would be along our route, which it was. All in all we went through 8 bottles of water.

We were prepared for a much harder hike, but the hardest part was the first three hours because you are moving uphill more often than not. One of the most notable parts of the hike was being able to cross Torrent Bay at low tide. We walked across the wet sand for a mile, having to take our shoes off to cross over the water that had never left. 

We stopped at Anchorage Bay about 2 hours in for lunch and a mini break. The water was beautiful but neither of us wanted to get wet and then hike for 4 hours, so we just enjoyed the water on our toes. 

Once we left Anchorage Bay, you get high enough to see the views we came for. The beauty was constant until the last hour of our hike and the last three hours is a nice slow decline. 

The pictures are the best storytellers and we took so many, so enjoy our experience and if you get the chance to go in person, we hope you enjoy the walk as much as we did. 

After a night of recovery we drove out of town on our way to the Southern Alps. 

Next time…( we have been listening to too much Serial) 

6 thoughts on “We don’t know who Abel Tasman is, but he has one hell of a park.

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