It was a perfect day in Abel Tasman on the north end of the South Island of New Zealand. We had just jumped out of a plane and flew our own stunt plane the day earlier and now we were going on a more relaxing excursion as we sailed along the coast of Abel Tasman National Park.
We were picked up early at our campsite and took the 20 minute drive along the winding road. Our driver warned us that we would get a little sick, but I brushed it off. I never feel motion sickness. Boy was I wrong. As I focused on the road ahead, the nausea started to kick in and I hoped that this wasn't a sign of things to come.
We arrived at the cute town of Motueka a bit early so we had time to grab a latte and let our stomachs settle. I must have been out of sorts because I really let the waiter have it when he refused to close the door because of the cigarette smoke seeping into the restaurant. Oh well, at least my stomach was feeling better.
Sailing Abel Tasman Adventure
By the time we got on the boat, the sun was shining and the air was warm. It was going to be a beautiful day with the people at Abel Tasman Sailing Adventures.
The Day was Too Perfect
We grabbed the prime seats at the front of the catamaran sitting on the mesh trampoline in the centre of the bow of the boat to enjoy the magnificent views. The problem was, there wasn't a bit of wind to be found. As we exited the bay, it was all motor power as we waited and waited for enough wind to come up for the sails to catch. It didn't matter though, we loved being on the open see watching the scenery pass. The lack of wind made the water look like glass.
First stop was split apple rock
Our Captain told us that he and his mates once brought a couch out to split apple rock to spend the day drinking and relaxing in the nude while the tourists passed in shock and awe. Imagine their faces as they witnessed a couch at the top of this giant rock with a couple of Kiwis sitting in the nude!
He told us a few jokes and claimed that this rock was actually a left over prop from The Lord of The Rings and if I didn't know better, I may have believed him.
There was no slowing down though, There was so much more to see!
Finally the wind came up and we could high tail it farther down the coast. The sails were ablaze and we all moved back from our prime seats after getting a good soaking once the wind picked up. The day may have been perfect, but that water was freezing! As we huddled close to our captain, protecting ourselves from the splashing waters, we actually hoped for the wind to die down so that we could bask in the late summer sun once again.
Things got better as we approached the coast line again and came across a family of fur seals.
There is nothing more enjoyable than watching seals play and frolic in the water. Being on a sail boat allowed us to drift close to the rocks in silence while not disturbing their day. Some kayakers were already right beside them watching with a front row seat and I vowed to book that excursion the next time we come back.
The fur seals dipped and twirled in the water putting on a show while some simply relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful day.
I could have spent all day watching these little guys, but once again there was so much more to see!
We packed our own lunch and came upon the most beautiful beach we have ever seen. Anchorage Beach is paradise. Maria, a woman on our Flying Kiwi trip around the South Island, mentioned that this beach was better than Thai beaches in South East Asia! Because if its seclusion and difficulty to get to, it is practically deserted.
The fine white sand was soft on our feet as we spent our time walking to check out the sights. We met several people hiking the coastline trails. You can do a hike out to Anchorage Beach in the morning and then catch a sail boat back to Motueka. There are also several hikers on multi-day hikes where you can walk along the 38 km Coast Track. There are huts along the track that you can book in advance making for one of the greatest walks in the world.
We only had a day however and that was enough to give us a taste of this beautiful region.
We came across a rock that looked like an elephant and couldn't find out any information about it. It was impressive though. We wondered if the ancient Maories carved it or if Mother Nature did this work?
Time for Some Fun
It was time to return and the wind had really picked up. Our captain allowed us all to take a turn at the steering wheel. It was tougher than I thought. I couldn't keep the boat going in a straight line as I aimed for the shore. One veer in the wrong direction and the sails would lose steam. Lucky for me the captain stayed close to fix my line.
We all pitched in during the ride home. The guys used their brawn to put up the sails as the girls gave them the proper cheers that they were seeking out. We girls let them think that they are full of might.
The hot chocolate was being made in the galley and we enjoyed a mellow ride back into shore.
I highly recommend sailing in Abel Tasman but if I had to do it again, I would take part in the half day excursion and hike. The ideal trip looks like a hike out to Anchorage Beach with the reward of taking a magnificent sail along the coast.
New Zealand is a dream and one of our favourite destinations in the world to visit. If you ever get a chance, you should give it a try!
For more information on Sailing in Abel Tasman, check out Abel Tasman Sailing Adventure.
How to get around in New Zealand
We did half of our trip with the hop on hop off tour on The Flying Kiwi which is an awesome way to see the island for a solo traveler, a young person doing their first Round the World or anyone not wanting to self drive in a foreign land. We had a great time on the bus and made some super friends!
The other half of our trip was self driving in our own campervan with All Ways Rentals. This is a great idea for families and couples that want to take their time and see the country at their own pace. There are campsites all over New Zealand with all the amenities you could want. Some even have swimming pools and hot tubs!