It may be New Zealand’s smallest national park, but what Abel Tasman lacks in size, it most certainly makes up for in stunning landscapes. Abel Tasman National Park is probably my all-time favourite area in New Zealand. I spent a couple of weeks there with some friends, house sitting. House Sitting in New Zealand is actually very easy as the people are very open and trusting. One refreshing thing about Kiwi’s is that they are some of the most honest people I have ever met. I housesat a couple of times while in New Zealand, as it is a great way to explore a new area.
House Sitting in New Zealand is actually very easy as the people are very open and trusting. House sitting generally consists of you looking after someone’s house for them while they are away. You get free accommodation and they have someone taking care of any plants or pets they may have (most house sits will have pets). One refreshing thing about Kiwi’s is that they are some of the most honest people I have ever met. I housesat a couple of times while in New Zealand, as it is a great way to explore a new area. I used the website Kiwi House Sitters. It is free to sign up, and then you simply pay a yearly fee of around $19.00, in order to become a house sitter. It is a great site for beginners as many other sites will expect you to have references and a lengthy history of house sitting, but this one doesn’t. To find out more about it, simply click the link above.
While in the Abel Tasman area, I was staying just outside the town of Pohara. Pohara is a little town with a very hippie vibe about it. It has some really wonderful organic food stores and boutique clothing stores. The town cinema is definitely worth a visit, with its comfy sofa seats, friendly staff and intermission where they serve tea, coffee and other treats. One of the highlights of Pohara is that you can watch the native penguins walk across the road near the beach at night. They cross the road every night to their traditional nesting grounds and then return to the sea before dawn.
Abel Tasman is famous for its golden sand beaches and gorgeous rainforest landscapes. There are a wide variety of walking tracks available, meaning there is something to suit everyone, from half day walks to 3 or 4-day hikes. While in the area, I did a 2-day hike of the Coastal Track. I did this trek with some friends, starting at the Totaranui Beach, we got the Aquataxi to Bark Bay. The Aquataxi is a great way to shorten your trip a little, while not missing out on the beauty that is Abel Tasman. On the boat, the guides will often share details about the local wildlife, by showing you around some of the little rock outcrops. It is an adequately priced service, with prices dropping during off-peak seasons. The Aquataxi can take you to all the major points along the coastline, and while on the boat you can enjoy seeing the coast pass by, as well as the local wildlife, such as seals and sometimes dolphins.
We started the hike at Bark Bay, heading back north towards Totaranui again. The path is in most part, a gravel or sandy path close to the coast, which gives you a magnificent view of the beaches. The path will veer onto the beaches at times, at which point you will follow orange markers back onto the path. We passed many of the other campsites and huts along the way, which provides good spots for a shortstop if required. I can not talk enough about the beauty of the area. It’s everything you could want for that picture perfect postcard setting. The rainforest is full of greenery, from the impressive trees and colourful wildlife to the native shrubbery. The beaches, of course, are one of the stand-out features which are one of the main reasons so many people visit during the peak season. I was there just before the peak season, so the track was still relatively quiet, making for a lovely serene walk.
While walking we sang the theme tune to Jurassic Park, as the rainforest around us reminded us so much of the film. We had planned to stay one night at the Awaroa Hut. The hut cost us $35.00 each for the night, which was the off-peak season price. The hut has a fire available for the winter months as well as long bunk style beds, with individual mattresses. Each room fits around 12-14 people so it can be quite a noisy night. You are required to bring your own sleeping bag and stoves for cooking. As the hut is just off the beach and along the river, it is advisable to check tide times for the following morning in order to cross the inlet and continue your journey.
We crossed the inlet, quite early in the morning and just before the tide times had advised, so we had to take off our socks and shoes and wade across the river slightly. While this may not be for everyone, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, as it was a nice warm day and the water was only slightly chilly. I would advise being careful if you do decide to do this as there are some patches where the sand will sink beneath you and you could end up being deeper in the water than you thought you would be. As this was our last day of the trek, we didn’t care too much about getting wet. As it turned out, it started raining slightly once we reached the other side, so we were going to get wet anyway.
From Awaroa, we hiked the rest of the way up to the Totaranui Beach. Along this stretch of the walk, there are some cool beach caves to explore as well as long stretches of walking along the beaches. We did some mussel searching, as this area has an abundance of mussels, which are quite tasty. We reached the far end of the carpark at Totaranui just after midday. We took our time with this stretch of the walk as we were under no time pressures and we just enjoying the nature around us.
This was not the only trek we did while in the Abel Tasman area. We also did a one day track across Gibb’s Hill. We started and ended at the Wainui carpark. The walk is a loop, which climbs Gibb’s Hill, one of the steepest hills in Abel Tasman. For this walk, we walked along part of the coastal track first, ending the trek with the Gibb’s Hill climb. This allowed for some spectacular views as the sun was just setting as we came down the hill again.
Sunset on Gibb’s Hill
On this track, we encountered the Kaka bird, a native of New Zealand, which one of my friends liked to a chicken. These birds, like many in New Zealand, do not fly and is actually a type of parrot. These are colourful and endangered birds and they were seemingly everywhere around Gibb’s Hill. The wildlife, for someone not native to the country, was definitely a highlight of the walk.
As I have stated, there are many walks available for people of all fitness levels and it truly is an exceptionally beautiful part of the country. If you visit New Zealand, you must make a visit to Abel Tasman. It is one of the most famous national parks for many reasons. During the summer seasons it can get very busy, so if you want a slightly quieter walk, I would suggest going in the off-season, which also means it will be cheaper to stay in the huts available. The tracks are well maintained and even in the off-season, the scenery is stunning.
Next up: Exploring more of Golden Bay