Wish You Were Here: Kayaking Through Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

by Owen James Burke

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand in a camper van with a camera, surfboard and speargun in search of stories, waves and fish. We’re putting together a waterperson’s guide to the island nation, but meanwhile, we’ll be publishing stories and photographs, short updates along the way from the Yankee in Kiwiland. -CD

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The Cook Strait is a tricky but enchanting body of water. It’s best to get on it early in the morning before the afternoon breeze kicks up. Photo: Owen James Burke.

Find a kayak, shove off the gold sand beach into gin-clear water and weave your way between granite and limestone cliffs. That’s the first thing you have to do when you get to the shores of Abel Tasman National Park. the rest is up to you, but I assure you, there’s no shortage of wonders small or large.

Hiking, fishing, spelunking into a nearly 1200-foot cave and strolling through an old-growth forest (where I’m told part of The Lord of the Rings was filmed) are all achievable within a day, all backdropped by the snowcapped peaks of the North West Nelson Conservation Park–season permitting. I watched the last of the snow dribble away under the sun this past weekend.

If you happen to find yourself at the northern limits of the park at the end of your paddle, stroll over to Pohara Marina for an espresso or tea at the famed “Espresso Ship“, formerly Commandant Jacques Yves-Cousteau’s Physalie (“Portuguese man-of-war”):

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Photo: Owen James Burke.

Read more about Ollie’s Espresso Ship, here.


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