Start of December 2015 we took advantage of the cheap flight tickets to Nelson to kayak in Abel Tasman. I had done a short day trip back in 2007 which left me wanting to spend more time there, on the water.
I had seen adverts for Aquapackers (backpackers hostel on a boat) and had been in New Zealand just over a year at this point, it was a must-visit. The research started with booking flights and ringing around to book hire kayaks. Our plans were to avoid being in a tour group and use single kayaks. We were only able to book a double, so we took to the water on a SeaBear kayak.
We had hired a double for a test paddle a few weeks before we left. I can understand why they call them divorce boats. We also tried to pack light, with one night on a boat and the second in a tent meaning it was still going to be a heavy kayak. My best tip is wine in a box is taken out of the box, the bag fits well around items in a kayak, and can also double as a pillow when finished and inflated with air. Plastic, not the foil ones to avoid crinkle sounds in your ears all night.
Upon our arrival at Marahau, the weather forecast was looking good although the third and final day looked questionable and would need to be an early start. We set off with 5 other doubles and the plan was to head out as quickly as possible and leave the crowds behind. We set off for Anchorage Bay where our first stop, the Aquapackers was, except we over-shot that by an hour. We had listened to the tour operator on how long things took and covered half the planned route, so we had to turn around. We found the hostel, pulled up the kayaks high on the beach, and, as it was still early meant we had the chance to explore before heading to the boat.
The hostel was awesome, people were jumping from the roof into the water and our accommodation included a BBQ for dinner. Luxury on a multiday kayak trip! We were sorry to leave in the morning and were wishing we had the foresight to use that as our base for the trip and kayak for longer each day, but their booking calendar said this was not an option.
We headed back out, for Mosquito Bay campsite and hoping it wasn’t aptly named. (Photo of view from the campsite.)
The tide was out, with the weight of the SeaBear and camping gear for two, made for a heavy kayak. We set up camp and I decided I needed the wine-in-a-box pillow. There was an oystercatcher nest 10 meters from the campsite, later in the evening the mother oystercatcher was squawking loudly, and we ended up scaring off a brazen rat. All was good, so we turned in and I left my jandals outside the tent. The next morning, (I am sure I heard chuckling noises from the bushes) a rat had chewed the toe pillar off a jandal, I will continue to blame the same rate as the previous night for ruining a quiet night and leaving me shoeless!
We were on our last day, the weather had begun to turn, so we headed up towards Tonga Island marine reserve. The wind had picked up, so it was a quick loop of the island and paddling straight back to the pickup point at Marahau. For the last few km, we had to go fast as it was wind against tide. Arriving back, we met up with one of the other double kayaks, out of the 8 that set out, 6 quit over the past few days to return by water taxi. I had finally completed my trip to Abel Tasman by kayak (the parts you can kayak with the hire kayaks). The next visit will be as a hiker or with my own kayak.
Author: Jacquie James