Abel Tasman National Park: Weekend Kayaking Trip

Abel Tasman National Park is an amazing part of New Zealand, with the beautiful 60 km Abel Tasman Coast Track, one of the Department of Conservations Great Walks. It also has a stunning coastline.

If you’re coming to New Zealand you should experience this wonderful area in some way! We decided to give kayaking a go and chose a long holiday weekend in February to do it.

Getting to Abel Tasman National Park

We booked our camping accommodation over the D.O.C. website and chose the boat access only campsites at Mosquito Bay and Observation Beach. 

I had bought a double sea kayak off TradeMe, to be picked up in Picton on the way through. After the Bluebridge guys had unloaded it in perfect condition, we got the kayak onto the roof of the car and packed our gear into it.

We then headed to Marahau Aqua Taxis to get a water taxi to the upper area of the park.

Setting off from Bark Bay

Bark Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

The first campsite (Mosquito Bay) is near the point you see in this photo from Bark Bay.

It’s right on the edge of the marine reserve and takes around 40 minutes to paddle there. It was a good start to test the kayak without a full day ahead of us.

Before getting into the marine reserve, wanted to try fishing with some squid as bait near a rocky outcrop.

I hoped I might catch some fish for tea, but could only get one small spotty which was thrown back.

Mosquito Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

Mosquito Bay, Abel Tasman National Park
Mosquito Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

We got to Mosquito Bay campsite at about 4 pm. As it was low tide, we had to drag the kayak up the sand about 100 metres. At that stage, the kayak weighed in at about 60 kgs, so if you can manage it, try to arrive at high tide!

You have to drag your kayaks up onto the rails provided so that they won’t float away when the tide comes up. It’s a basic site with water (unfiltered) available on site.

There are also a few picnic tables here too., and the campsite has a very chilled out vibe to it.

You have an awesome beach right on your doorstep, the sand is golden and the water was pretty warm in February.

Mosquito Bay Abel Tasman National Park
View from one of the walkways from the campsite down to the beach. The rocky outcrop in the distance (about 40 metres offshore) has an awesome platform for jumping off!

One thing that I would take in hindsight is a pair of goggles and a snorkel. Of course, you cannot take anything here as it’s a marine reserve. Still, it would’ve been pretty cool to take a look around as the water is so clear.

Observation Beach, Abel Tasman National Park

The next day it was onwards to our next camp Observation Beach. You can probably get there without a stop within 2 hours. But, as we had all day, we stopped in at some quiet beaches along the way and also at Anchorage, a large campsite with a hut for cooking in and a few nice walks.

Kayaking Abel Tasman National Park
Paddling Abel Tasman National Park

We had had perfect weather up until this point and no swell which made for great kayaking conditions.

However, at around 11 am the wind picked up, just as we started to tackle the “mad mile” which was just around the corner.

I asked the water taxi bloke who had just pulled into Anchorage. He said heading south wouldn’t be an issue, but people paddling north were having a bit of a rough time.

Observation Beach Abel Tasman National Park
Observation Beach

As we turned the corner past Te Pukatea Bay we were in slightly rougher waves for about 30 minutes.

Then we rounded the corner into the very sheltered Observation Beach. This is one of my favourite places on the Abel Tasman kayaking trip.

Observation Beach is another boat only access campsite, and a little smaller than Mosquito Bay. This was my favourite site, it had a water tap, toilet and a fantastic beach. Plus, we didn’t need to pull the kayaks right up like the previous night!

Back to Marahau

The next day it was a short paddle of two hours before arriving back at Marahau.

What I really liked about our Abel Tasman National Park trip is that there’s not too much actual kayaking involved.

That means it’s pretty relaxed so you’ve got ample time to stop off and explore at the smaller campsites.

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