Adventure, Travel

Kayaking the Abel Tasman

Kayaking the Abel Tasman has got to be one of the highlights of our south Island tour, it’s up there with the Routeburn Track and a random, crazy night in a backpackers hostel just outside of Hokitika. If you enjoy beautiful coastline, wildlife, waking up on a stunning beach or slow paced adventure then you need to add this to your New Zealand bucket list; Let’s face it, we all have one. When you’ve been once, the list gets even longer!

We booked a 4 day park start kayak rental through Abel Tasman Kayaks, booking was easy to do and fairly priced. They picked us up from Nelson, possibly our favourite town in the south island, at 7am on a small coach and drove us out to their base in Marahau. We were given a briefing about the kayaks and area and shown how to store our kit in the boat before the water taxi arrived on the back of a tractor. The taxi driver was very informative, showing us different places along the route we were to paddle back along over the next few days, including a pipe with fresh water that connected to a stream on the cliffs above. There was mention of Orcas and seals and Hev got a little excited before realising that things in the water make her nervous.

All of the kayakers got dropped off at Onetahuti and we immediately headed North for Shag Harbour; in search of baby seals that climb onto your boat. We didn’t find any pups but the bay was beautiful with lots of nooks and crannies to explore.

The trip continued in this way, stunning places to explore, beautiful beaches with no one on them, only accessible by boat.


  • We paddled around islands and saw so many seals.
  • Evening swims in the sea revealed perfectly formed jelly like star fish, littering the sea floor and the low tides uncovered muscles which were enjoyed with a simple sauce, made from wine and leftover cream cheese.
  • We explored caves and coves and numerous lagoons and had the most peaceful few days.
  • Waking up on a beach, with no one else around and nothing to do but drink coffee, do yoga and swim in the clear water.
  • Fashioning a sail to get us back to town for essential supplies: Ice cream, crisps and wine.
  • Lunching and sunbathing on our own sand spits and secluded beaches


With a choice of campsites on booking, we picked based on geographical location rather than anything else. They all had there perks though.

Mosquito Bay

Luckily didn’t live up to it’s name! Amongst the trees at the top of a beach; a river comes in behind so it feels like you’re on an island.

Anchorage Bay

Joined with a hut for the great walk. Lots of tents pitched amongst the trees, we hid here in a storm and hiked part of the trail during the evening, taking us to a high view point and allowing for a different perspective on the surrounding area.

Observation beach

By far our favourite! A small platform at the top of a small beach, with only 5 other pitches. When we woke up we had the beach to ourselves and could have stayed there all day!


We paid just over £200 for the boat hire including the pick up and drop off in Nelson, Camping pass and equipment.

We travelled with our own camping equipment so didn’t need to hire a  tent or stove. The company do have these available to hire at a great price should you need it. You also have the opportunity to pay a bit extra to stay in the huts if you’re not a fan of camping.

Abel Tasman Kayaks

We took our time over the 4 days, did a bit of hiking up the Abel Tasman Track and even paddled back into town on day 3 for ice cream and wine. The company also offers the Park Start package in 2 and 3 days as well as guided tours and options to kayak up the coast and walk back to town via the Great Walk track.

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