We spent a night in Wellington, which is the port to hop on a ferry between the North and South Islands in New Zealand. We stayed at an adorable hostel in Wellington called The Dwellington (clever, right?!) which we loved. We wished we could have spent more time here as the entire place was really nice and had an amazing kitchen. They even had tennis courts that we didn’t have the chance to use.
The next morning we got on the 8 am Bluebridge ferry from Wellington to Picton. This journey is advertised to be one of the most beautiful rides through Cook Strait, but initially we were pretty nervous. The ride has been known to be rough at times and resulting in a lot of use of “sick bags”. Fortunately, it was smooth sailing and the cruise was stunning. The only difficult part was when you ventured onto the deck at the bow of the boat it was freezing.
After we arrived in Picton we hopped on our last Intercity bus ride to get to Nelson, where we had plans for our much anticipated excursion to the Abel Tasman National Park. This was another one of our must-do’s on the trip to New Zealand. We set up shop in our hostel (see our thrilling story on this here) and prepared for an early departure the next morning.
Our coach picked us up early on Monday morning and we started the drive out to Abel Tasman. Our friend Kathi was also on this day trip with us. We met her initially in Paihia as a dorm mate in our hostel, then we kept crossing paths in different towns. She actually told us about the day trip we booked and we were excited to get to spend some more time with her! The journey was a “Coach – Cruise – Walk” which consisted of an hour long coach ride to the park, a 40 minute boat ride to an area called Anchorage and then a 12.4 km hike (which we were given 6 hours to complete) through the park back to a pickup point.
The cruise portion of the trip was a bit chilly but involved a lot of great scenery. In addition, our boat had very few people on it compared to all of the others around us! Once we were dropped at Anchorage the three of us started our trek up a mountain. We stopped a few times to take in the views and also discuss how it was more of a hike than we expected. We were envisioning walks along a beach with maybe a few hills, but instead were spending a lot of time going uphill into the trees.
After about an hour of hiking, we saw a trail that lead down to Observation Beach. We decided to take a small detour and enjoy a beach for a bit. Then we fell in love with the beach. The logical solution was to avoid the mountain hikes and instead try walking along the coastline and across some boulders. This would surely save us time, give us more beaches to see and allow us to spend more time at the last beach along the route.
We started our own “interpretive” trail along the coastline and managed to make it to the next beach pretty quickly and easily. There were a few spots along the way that we had large steps up or down boulders, or clinging onto some rock walls. This was Akersten Beach and just as lovely as the first beach. We were convinced we were saving ourselves so much time that we continued with our new trail. This next round proved a bit more challenging.
We knew that the largest beach called Apple Bay was a bit further up the coast, so we kept climbing diligently over and on the rocks along the beach, having only about 10 yards of visibility along the windy and massively rocky shoreline. AKA, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into until we made it around each set of rocks. At one point, we were climbing up, and up, extremely steep rocks until we were basically on the side of the mountain. The next set of rocks were much too far below us….we had reached a cliff. Jenny was in the lead and set off upward in search of a path, when low and behold….she heard voices…and saw people. We were only about 40 yards below the path and all made our way as safely as possible up the hill to resume on the track.
Kerry practicing her First Aid 101 skills on her scraped up knee….those darn rocks were sharp!
When we finally got back to the trail markers, we discovered that we were not at all correct in assuming we had saved time by taking the coastline. It cost us an hour or so…But we all agreed that it had been adventurous and really fun! We decided to get a bit closer to the end of the trail before stopping to have lunch and enjoy the beach. We walked for about an hour and reached the entrance for Coquille Bay. All 3 of us were thrilled to finally get some beach time and rest our legs after our trek along the coast. The water was quite cold, but all of us dove underwater together and it was such a refreshing swim. We hung out on this beach for an hour enjoying the sun and some snacks before heading back to the trail to finish out our journey.
We enjoyed our time at Abel Tasman so much, that we kept saying we had wished we’d booked cabins in the park (although they are hard to come by) and that we could have spent days here exploring the tracks and relaxing on the gorgeous beaches!
We were thoroughly exhausted when we boarded the bus ride to head back into Nelson. As soon as we got back to our hostel, which coincidentally has a restaurant/bar connected to it, we headed to the bar for a few pints of beer and the dinner special…wings, chips (fries) and salads. The SuperBowl was already over in the US, but they were replaying the entire game on the tv in the bar, so we watched some of the game, but had already heard news of the Pats comeback victory. We showered and hit the sack early, exhausted as ever, since we had an early wakeup call for our flight to Queenstown.
We are so excited to visit the Adventure Capital of the World!
Jenny & Kerry