It is almost a cliché to describe the Abel Tasman coastline as stunning, but it’s true and John Croxford, who guided in the area with Kahurangi Walks for 15 years, has the best way to experience it if you’re staying in Nelson.
0800: Prepare your packed lunch, water bottle and camera and drive to Marahau, the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park.
0915: Book a seat with the water taxi company in preparation for the boat ride to Anchorage, before nipping into the Hooked on Marahau café for a coffee and cake.
1030: Board the water taxi and enjoy the unique experience of your boat being towed along the road to the beach by tractor. Wave to the locals as you pass the 20km/h road sign!
1040: The water taxi takes you firstly to Split Apple Rock, one of the spectacular rocks making up this granite coastline, then off toward Anchorage, past the Adele Island bird sanctuary. The skipper will be looking out for the occasional school of dolphins, little blue penguins, shags of several kinds and seals as well.
1200: Arrive in Anchorage, disembark and take the 20 minute short walk to the beautiful golden sands of Puketea Bay for lunch and possibly a swim in the sheltered clear blue waters.
1300: Back to Anchorage to start the walk to Marahau, at first a little steep up to a stunning lookout over Astrolabe Roadstead where you can see all the way to the snow covered peaks of Nelson Lakes National Park.
1330: The walk now flattens, and the bush is mainly manuka and black beech with the impossible greeny/blue of the sea glistening through.
1500: A quick stop at Apple Tree Bay for another swim and then it is another 2hr gentle walk to Marahau.
1700: A celebratory visit to The Park Café followed by a short walk to the car, and return to Nelson by 1830. What a great day.
The most iconic walk in Nelson is the curiously named Centre of New Zealand, a hill close to the Botanical Gardens. The walk starts at the Information Centre, follows the Maitai River and then gently up to the summit where there are native plantings and seats to enjoy the stunning view and pick out the features of Nelson from the interpretive panels.
It’s not well known that there was once a railway line running from the centre of Nelson to the top of Dun Mountain to transport ore from a chromium mine. The mine and railway equipment have long gone, but the Dun Mountain Trail, a shared walking and mountain biking track, remains and climbs to 878m. If walking, Third House provides a convenient destination with wonderful views, if biking, keep going to the top. The gradient, as befits a railway line, is gentle.