Day 10 (September 17, 2012)   Abel Tasman N.P.


Route for New Zealand's 7th day   This morning is to be spent in Abel Tasman N.P. and enjoying its coast whether by kayak or by catamaran.

   After that, we will drive to West Coast and reaching as close as possible of the glaciers, stopping to see the Pancake Rocks, in Punakaiki, within Paparoa National Park, and just before reaching Greymouth, there are the Coal Creek Falls.

   After Greymouth, there is Hokitika, the city famous by its greenstone.

   It will be at least 280 Km we should cover in 3 hours and a half.


 Kayak rental with equipment: 65 NZD


Sea Kayak Company HQ    The plan for this morning is easy: we must drive just two minutes from Top 10 Holyday Park in Motueka to the Sea KayakCompany office we were yesterday without leaving the main road. There we’re more than welcomed, we can leave the three motorhomes, taking what we need, explained the odds we have of watching wildlife: impossible for orcas and dolphins and unlikely for seals; and getting into the van with the yellow kayaks we’re going to use.

   We’re driven until Marahau Beach where we’re explained the basics of kayaking. Water is cold and, while dressing the equipment and putting the kayaks on the water, we meet the sandflies. I’ve got two bites, enough for knowing how it is: you feel the bite at the moment and even can bleed a little and that’s all, nothing to do with our mosquitoes, where you don’t feel the bite itself, but it burns and itches for days.

Marahau BeachGetting kayaking lessons

   Once we’re ready we get into our kayaks and sealing, with the sort of skirt we’re wearing, the hole in order of avoiding water waist-down. There are some departments, sealed too, where we can store things like our drinking water or our cameras.

   The water is quiet at this first part, so that’s easy. When we go to open sea we’ve got time to get the practice as per paddling along the coast enjoying the landscapes but wildlife, apart from the sea birds, none.

Starts with kayakingStarts with kayaking

   We’re in a group of four kayaks very close and hitting each other all the time as in a “bumper kayaks”. The ones seemed to doing it better are finally the ones who got in troubles when getting very close to the rocks as per being hit by the waves against them. The kayak stands for a second over a rock until water comes again. They finally get out of there by paddling backwards. After that, we’re paddling further from the rocks as we’ve just acquired a new respect on them.

Sea Kayaking in Abel Tasman N.P.
Sea Kayaking in Abel Tasman N.P.
Split apple rock

   When we reach the rock looking as a split apple we’ve been told before we’re talking about coming back, but there is an island nearby which could be our last chance of seeing seals. As I don’t want to miss this last shot, is just my single kayak with my sister behind which is going to there. Soon I can see the silhouette of a seal over the rocks, so we get closer, until the confirmation make us paddle fast to reach it as soon as possible. Once there, waves are playing with us and our kayak keep hitting the rocks, but we want our pictures. Then the seal drops to the water, close of us and keep floating easily with the head inside the water. It seems to be looking for some snack. It’s just like this the seal moves between the rocks until being unreachable. It has been a magical moment.

Going to Ngaio Island
Seal and birds in Ngaio Island
Seal fishing close to our kayak

   We’re paddling now directly to the spot in the beach we must end our trip and as we’re going straight instead of following the coast we get it fast, 30 minutes before the scheduled time for picking us up.

Back in landMarahau Beach

   We help on putting the kayaks back to the van’s trailer, where there are our clothes as well so we can change, and we’re driven to the offices in Motueka, where our motorhomes have been waiting for us.

Barley plantationRoad to Kaiteriteri

   The rest of the day is just for driving to Punakaiki to visiting the Pancake Rocks, so we take that direction. One hour later, just where the Motueka Valley Hwy reaches motorway 6, which will bring us to Punakaiki, we stop at a restaurant.

Motueka Valley landscapeMotueka Valley landscape

   Menu looks good and it seems the specialty is something called “Porterhouse Steak”, which basically is a 250g piece of beef, something similar to what we know as “entrecote”, made following the preferences of everyone and delicious.

RestaurantPorterhouse Steak

   As we spend a lot of time enjoying our meal and talking about our kayak experience we cannot reach Pancake Rocks at daylight today, then we look something close to spend the night and choose another Top 10: Seal Colony Top 10 Holyday Park, in Westport. As can be guessed by its name, it is close a seal colony and first thing tomorrow will be to make everybody in the group get their own experience with seals.

Motorway 6 to WestportMailboxes are customized around the country