It’s hard to think that a pristine paradise awaits us just a couple of hours away from the hustle and bustle of Auckland City. That’s right, only a short scenic plane ride from Auckland and you will arrive in the pure idyllic serenity that is the Abel Tasman National Park. Although it is New Zealand’s smallest national park, it is also the most popular. The saying ‘good things come in small packages’ certainly rings true when it comes to this picture perfect destination in the Top of the South.
The iconic park is home to one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, a coastal track like no other, with swooping golden beaches, crystal clear ocean views, lush native forest and hidden secluded coves that are ready to be explored by foot, kayak, boat or plane. From canyoning adventures to kayaking expeditions, the Abel Tasman National Park really does have it all. So, if you’re looking to escape the daily grind for something extraordinarily beautiful and equally exciting, then leave the big smoke behind and get lost in the untouched paradise that is the Abel Tasman this Autumn.
Explore the National Park’s gateways
There’s no better way to kick start your journey than by exploring the gateways to the Abel Tasman National Park. If art has a place in your heart then check out Motueka a sun-kissed vibrant town with an abundance of artisan markets, galleries and local craft breweries. Get involved in the small-town vibe and celebrate the creative essence of the region at the Motueka Sunday Market, where you’ll find delicious artisan goodies and fun entertainment. Or, try something new in Marahau as you trek the golden sandy beach by horseback and finish your evening enjoying some local cuisine and hops at the Hooked Beer Garden. Alternatively, Kaiteriteri is a beloved holiday destination and is the ultimate spot for some relaxation and rejuvenation before you head out to explore the Abel Tasman National Park. Whether you opt for a massage and facial at the nearby Eco Resort, watch the sun set from your beachfront balcony or indulge in something delicious at the Kai Restaurant & Bar, we guarantee the worries of the daily grind will soon be a distant memory.
Delve into the Abel Tasman Coast Track
The 53km Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of New Zealand’s most popular great walks and it’s pretty obvious as to why that is. It’s a unique track that brings different elements of nature together; the stunning golden sandy beaches, the crystal-clear turquoise waters and the beautiful native forest - what more could you ask for? Starting in the seaside village of Marahau, the track takes you on a journey of pure discovery as you encounter the native wildlife, discover the hidden coves and stumble upon natural rock pools that are perfect for taking a dip (keep an eye out for Cleopatra’s Pool, a natural rock pool with a moss-lined waterslide). The best part is that you don’t have to be a mountaineer to complete the coastal track because it is accessible to people of all ages and levels of fitness, with plenty of combo-transport options available to suit each individuals needs. You can choose to spend a few days immersed in the spectacular beauty of the coast by walking the whole track, spend an afternoon exploring a small section of it, or loop it into a full day kayak, cruise and walk package.
Kayaking around the crystal-clear bays
An attraction all year round, kayaking is the Abel Tasman is the perfect way to get up close and personal with the national park and its hidden treasures. Discover secluded bays, coves and natural rock formations from the comfort of your kayak and watch as the resident seals and dolphins play in the water, all while gliding along the glistening coastline. A lot of this idyllic scenery can’t be seen from land, so kayaking gives you the opportunity to really delve into this extraordinary coastal paradise. Take things at your own pace with a freedom rental or join a guided tour to learn more about the history of this iconic land. Just like the walking excursions, you can opt for a day trip, multi-day trips and even an overnight stay. If you’re after something a little different, then hop on board a waka for a unique cultural experience, exploring the iconic landmarks of the national park such as Split Apple Rock.
Spend the night in the Abel Tasman National Park
After a long day of exploring, rest up in luxury at one of the parks extraordinary beachfront lodges located in Awaroa (Awaroa Lodge or Meadowbank Homestead) or Torrent Bay. Kick back and relax with a glass of local Pinot, while listening to the sound of waves as they lap gently along the beach. Pull up a pew on the deck and indulge in a delicious home-cooked meal, while watching the serene Autumn sunset as it disappears beyond the horizon. If you prefer to be at one with nature then there are plenty of DOC huts and campsites dotted along the track, or if you want to try something a little different then book a night at New Zealand’s only floating backpackers, a specially converted catamaran with a choice of your own cabin or shared accommodation.
Scenic Tours of the golden National Park
Now, if trekking or kayaking around the golden national park isn’t for you, then you can choose to experience the pristine surroundings from a different perspective. Hop on board a scenic cruise or relax on a sailing catamaran and explore the secluded hideaways and stunning golden beaches that the Abel Tasman is renowned for. Or, take an Eco Tour out to Tonga Island Marine Reserve, the ultimate opportunity to learn about the hidden wonders of the majestic native bush and the marine life along the Abel Tasman coastline and how they have come to thrive today. If you’re lucky, you may spot some seals, dolphins, birds and penguins along the way.
The Abel Tasman region is not only known for its outrageous postcard perfect views, but also for its selection of adventure sports that are just a hop, skip and a jump away. A playground of activity that is just waiting to be discovered, you can pump some adrenaline through your veins as you glide down granite canyons, zip through unspoiled rainforest and slide down natural waterfalls on a canyoning adventure. Or, if freefalling above spectacular scenery sounds like your kind of fun, a skydive in Motueka will certainly deliver, with views of the North and South islands, the region’s three national parks, and one of the largest natural sandspits in the world.
The serene beauty of Autumn and Spring is quite possibly the Abel Tasman’s best kept secret. The summertime crowds have departed, leaving those who remain to appreciate the national park in all of its glory.. from the abundant birdsong to the long stretches of golden sand, and the unparalleled views from the balcony of the beachfront restaurants. The weather is still warm, the seas are at their calmest, and the blazing golden hues of the departing days are guaranteed to be a highlight of your trip. So if the hustle and bustle of big city life is getting too much, there’s never been a better time to escape from the ordinary. You can start planning your much needed vacation to extraordinary Abel Tasman here.