When I think of a holiday post COVID, I am thinking of relaxing in an uncrowded natural environment and reconnecting with my fellow travel companions be it family or friends. A holiday in New Zealand certainly ticks those boxes with plenty of untamed wilderness and a rich cultural heritage to explore. So sorry Auckland…it’s not a city escape I am after, but rather, spending my time enjoying such stunning natural surrounds as found on the tip of the South Island in the Abel Tasman National Park. One of the ten Great Walks of New Zealand, the Abel Tasman Coast Track is rated easy-intermediate and is a total of 51km if you choose to walk the entire length. Expect beautiful beaches, spectacular coastal scenery and encounter cheeky wildlife. Wilsons Abel Tasman is an award-winning tour operator who makes it easy with guided or self-guided half-day, full-day, or multi-day trips in the Abel Tasman with combinations of walk/cruise or kayak. So trek the Abel Tasman here we come!
At 22,530 hectares the Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand’s smallest national park. It is also the only coastal national park. It is renowned for its forest-fringed, golden beaches, calm azure waters, sculpted granite headlands and islands. Two tracks, one inland and one coastal, run through the Park. The Māori people lived along this coast for over 500 years, gathering food from the sea and forest. Today, we can walk in their footsteps and experience the breathtaking beauty of this much-loved park. The Abel Tasman Coast Track hugs the gorgeous coastline, and rewards walkers with magnificent views. It’s a one-way walk, so options of catching a cruise or kayak are a great way to avoid back-tracking.
You can choose to trek the Abel Tasman on your own and stay in huts and campsites based along the track (must be pre-booked). But the possibility to combine the trek with kayaks, cruising and Beachfront Lodge stays makes a self-guided or guided trip with Wilsons Abel Tasman a far more attractive option! Wilsons Abel Tasman is a small eighth-generation family business who enable you to soak up this iconic track by offering guided or self-guided half-day, full day or 3-5 day walks on this 51km coastline stretch. The business operates the only two private Beachfront Lodges within the park itself, Meadowbank Homestead and Torrent Bay Lodge, which makes multi-day trips easy. It’s a soft landing as the lodges offer rooms with ensuites and all meals. Another attraction is that flexibility is key. If a walking adventure is not your thing, then take to the water on a kayak to explore the multitude of bays, inlets and picturesque beach stretches that make it the premier kayaking destination it is (kayak minimum age 12 years). For those of us that like to take it easy, then the water taxi is definetly the way to go. There are 6 coastal points the water taxi can drop you off or collect you after a day exploring the bays or walking part of the track.
Escape, Revive & Reconnect…
Wilsons Abel Tasman have all the answers. For those of us that are time poor then a great option is the half-day Medlands/Bark Bay Falls trip which includes swimming in crystal clear waters, a hike to the waterfalls and a return cruise. A terrific day trip is the Beaches, Bays & Seals Kayak which includes kayaking in Torrent Bay, meeting the seals on Pinnacle Island and a return cruise. And of course the pinnacle is the 3 or 5-day guided walk where you can choose your own combination of guided walking, kayaking, cruising and the not-to-be-missed overnight stays at the private Beachfront Lodges. Recent clients summed up their 3-day guided walk experience “The Tasman hiking and Kayaking were an experience never to be forgotten. We made a whole new group of friends as we went through the challenges of hiking the hills and navigating the very cold and wavy waters. The guides and support of the Wilsons Abel Tasman team were truly spectacular. The lodges are one of a kind and a great way to traverse the region” S, Nov 22
In my experience, one thing I have found admirable and consistent with most New Zealand Tour Operators is the support for the Tiaki Promise. The Tiaki Promise is a commitment to care for New Zealand, for now and for future generations. It’s about caring for people and place. Wilsons Abel Tasman are no exception with their support in this regard. However, they do go one step further with their founding membership of the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust, who’s vision it is to fill the Abel Tasman’s beaches and forest with birdsong once again. Wilsons Abel Tasman support the Birdsong Trust’s work by enhancing the park’s biodiversity through habitat regeneration and predator control.
Abel Tasman National Park – Life just seems better here….
There are plenty of reasons to include a guided walk with Wilsons Abel Tasman on your next visit to New Zealand. Some of the highlights include the golden sand beaches, enjoy a moss-lined water slide at Cleopatra’s pool, traverse the 47m suspension bridge with inlet views, meeting your fellow travellers over a delicious dinner at Meadowbank or Torrent Bay Lodge, kayaking in the crystal-clear waters and simply loving those magnificent views. I know it is tough to whittle down your choice destinations for your next holiday…. but this is one not to be missed. Make sure to include a guided trip with Wilsons Abel Tasman on your next visit to New Zealand…. I know I will be doing just that!
Any time of the year is a good time to visit this pristine National Park, you can enjoy a moderate, maritime climate and among the highest annual sunshine hours in the entire country. In Summer (Dec, Jan & Feb) temperatures range from 20 – 25°C (68 – 77°F), and in Winter (June, July & August), from 12 – 16°C (53 – 61°F). Our favourite time is Autumn, with blue skies, sunshine, calm seas, active wildlife and hardly anyone around.
Good to know:
Situated on the northern tip of the South Island, the Nelson Tasman region enjoys a mild climate, plenty of golden sand beaches, turquoise waters, lush native bush, and easy access from both the North Island Ferry Terminal at Picton and nearby Nelson Airport. There is plenty to do in the region, why not combine your Abel Tasman National Park visit with some great places close by such as Nelson, an artistic paradise, and the hub of outdoor activities with 3 National Parks on its doorstep. Don’t forget the Nelson wineries or the other famous wine region close by is Marlborough, NZ’s flagship wine destination. Why not consider a stay in a vineyard cottage for a few days R&R after your coastal walk? There is so much to see and do you could easily base yourself in the region for 5-7 days. Apart from your day or multi-day walk/cruise and kayak with Wilsons in the Abel Tasman National Park make sure to cycle a section or the whole of the Tasman’s Great Taste trail, discover some local art, visit the Nelson classic car museum or for something really quirky don’t miss a tour at Pic’s Peanut Butter World!
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