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July 2012 Issue
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Complete a multi-day sea kayak adventure

Paddle with New Zealand fur seals at Tonga Island in Abel Tasman National Park. Photo: Derek Morrison
Think you’re a good tramper, sea kayaker, climber, mountain biker and skier? Shift your horizons with one of these game-changing adventures


You have: Paddled a kayak or canoe for more than a kilometre on calm water

You want: To enjoy a multi-day trip with easy paddling conditions and short distances between camps.

The trip: Hire a freedom kayak at Kaiteriteri or Marahau at the south end of Abel Tasman National Park. Double kayaks are more stable and you can take more gear, singles are faster and lots of fun. There are lots of local companies to hire from and most will insist you take a 2-3hr skill lesson before you depart.

Kayaking is the luxury version of tramping: you still get to see some amazing places, but you can take lots of extra items like chilly bins, coffee percolator, extra water – even bottles of wine.

The park is dotted with campsites so you can select each stop by the distance you’d like to travel depending on how your group is feeling. A great itinerary is to paddle from Marahau to idyllic Te Pukatea Bay, making time to explore the cluster of islands that include Fisherman and Adele, named after Jules Dumont d’Urville’s wife, and Watering Cove, where the French explorer sourced water, and Observation Beach where he set up an observatory during his 1827 voyage.

The next day leave Te Pukatea Bay and paddle north to the campsite at Bark Bay, or the better option at Mosquito Bay, if time permits. On the way you’ll want to check out Cleopatra’s Pool up river from Torrent Bay (requires high-tide), Frenchman Bay, Falls River (also requires high-tide) and the many pretty beaches along the way.

For day three, paddle into Tonga Island Marine Reserve making sure to explore the rock formations at Tonga Arches and to visit the New Zealand fur seal nursery on the north side of Tonga Island. From here you can return via water taxi or paddle back.

Plan to have all your paddling done before 2pm to avoid the sea breezes that tend to kick up after midday.

You’ll need: A quality sea kayak with good storage ports in the hulls for your tent, sleeping bag, mattress, clothes, food and cooking gear. Drybags for all your gear, waterproof map case, personal floatation device and a hydration pack. Rope is always handy on an adventure like this.

– Derek Morrison

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