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The Abel Tasman National Park is an amazing part of New Zealand with a beautiful walking track 54.4 kms in length and is one of the Department of Conservations great walks. If you’re coming to New Zealand you should experience this track in some way, this time around we decided to give kayaking a go and chose a long weekend to do it. We booked our camping accommodation over the DOC website and chose the boat access only campsites at Mosquito Bay and Observation Beach. I bought a double sea kayak off Trademe and picked it up in Picton on the way through after the Bluebridge guys loaded it on, it arrived in perfect condition and we loaded it up before heading to Marahau Aqua Taxis to get a water taxi to the upper area of the park.
We got dropped off at Bark Bay, the first campsite (Mosquito Bay) is just on the point you see below here, 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 arriving and while not in the marine reserve, I dropped a fishing line with some squid as bait near a rocky outcrop. I had hoped to catch some fish for tea, but only caught one small spotty which was thrown back.
We arrived at the Mosquito Bay campsite at about 4pm and as it was low tide, we had o drag the kayak which at that stage weighed in at about 60 kgs up the sand about 100 metres. 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 don’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. Everyone was very friendly and the campsite had 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 (February), 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, but it would’ve been pretty cool to take a look around as the water is so clear. This image below is one of the walkways from the campsite, down to the beach. If you see the rocky outcrop in the distance there (about 40 metres off shore) it’s got an awesome platform for jumping off.
The next day it was onwards to our next camp Observation Beach. If you wanted to get there without a stop it would probably only take you 1.5 hours or so, 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.
We had had perfect weather up until this point and no swell which made for great kayaking conditions, however at around 11am the wind started to pick up and we had to tackle the ‘mad mile’ which was just around the corner. I asked the water taxi bloke who had just pulled into Anchorage, but he said heading south wouldn’t be an issue, but people paddling north were having a bit of a rough time. We made it without any issues and as soon as we rounded the corner past Te Pukatea Bay we were into the slightly rougher waves for about 30 minutes, before rounding the corner into the very sheltered Observation Beach which you see below here. This was bliss!
Observation Beach was another boat only access campsite, and was a little smaller than Mosquito Bay. Upon arrival we found there were a lot of bees attracted to one particular location by the picnic table, so we stayed clear and weren’t bothered by them throughout the entire evening/next day. This was my favourite site, it had a water tap, toilet and a fantastic beach. You didn’t need to pull the kayaks right up like the previous night.
I find that while they might be $2 more expensive than other pasta snacks, these Watties Tortellini Pasta Mixes are awesome when camping. The amount of time you save and the dishes is well worth it in my books.
The next day it was a short paddle of two hours before arriving back at Marahau. What I really like about this trip is that there’s not too much actual kayaking involved, it’s pretty relaxed which means you’ve got ample time to stop off and explore at these smaller campsites. As I’m the proud owner of a sea kayak, you’ll probably read a few more posts about it in the future!