Chapter 8: Nelson & Abel Tasman 3-day Kayak Tour [New Zealand Series 17/18]

Location: Nelson and Abel Tasman

Hostel: Almond House Backpackers / Onetahuti camp (Abel Tasman) / Torrent Bay (Abel Tasman) / Aurora Backpackers

To do: Abel Tasman National Kayak tour (it’s the highlight of my entire trip. The best thing I did while in NZ and trust me… I did a lot)


There’s not enough words to describe this part of my trip. Honestly. I could go on for days about this but I’ll try to keep it short.

After my wine tour shenanigans, I went to Nelson for just one night before my 3 day kayaking adventure in Abel Tasman. I went for a walk to the ‘geographical centre of New Zealand’ (allegedly) and just had a chilled out evening. Nelson is a cool place and I spent one other night there (Christmas) after coming back from Abel Tasman. The church is super cute and there’s a few restaurants and bars. It is not a busy town, which I liked.



Now…onto Abel Tasman ….

If you do one thing in New Zealand…. do this. Take 3 days to kayak in Abel Tasman. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to in my entire life (and again…I’ve been to a fair few).


I got picked up from my hostel early morning and taken to Marahau where I met our tour guide Jeremy and the rest of the group. It was 8 of us in total plus Jeremy (big shout-out to Abel Tasman Kayaks ( for being absolute super stars!)

We started at Awaroa Bay and had an intense day in those waters. The wind was pretty strong so the entire group was exhausted by the time we got to Onetahuti for our first night camping. We set up camp, cooked (well…Jeremy did), played cards and had a cheeky drink.

There’s something to be said about not being able to use your phone for 3 days and just spending time with other people without any distractions. I think I forgot what it was like to just be ‘in the moment’. And I know we all say that but being on the other side of the world, not knowing anyone and just having to trust the group of people you’re with who you’ve just met makes things a lot more interesting.

Falling asleep a few metres away from the sea and being woken up at 4am by the extremely loud sound of the birds also makes you wonder what the hell have we been doing with our lives and question why don’t we all live a bit more simply.

I couldn’t really sleep that morning. I was too happy, too relaxed, too excited. All at the same time. So I got out of my tent and watched the sunrise. And what a sunrise that was.

It was another glorious day and we paddled all the way to Torrent Bay where we set up camp for the second night. We saw and swam with seals and saw penguins up close as well. It’s fantastic to see the variety of fauna and flora in it’s natural state and I’m sooo happy that New Zealand Government puts so much emphasis in protecting the natural beauty of the country. I wish other governments would do the same.

Torrent Bay camp (Anchorage) was a lot busier than the first one (there was only 3 tents in Onetahuti but there was hundreds in Torrent Bay) but the beach was just as beautiful. I did get to see an incredible glow worm that night and the most beautiful night sky ever. I also went on a cheeky night walk to the Cleopatra pools (an hour walk away from the campsite). Seeing this rock pool completely empty in the middle of the night reflecting a star filled sky is something I will never ever forget. (I got eaten alive by mosquitos during my walk back to the camp, so if you go on a night adventure just make sure you cover up… especially if you’re using your torch).


Advice from an emotional Mariana after re-living one of the best days of her life whilst writing this post:

  • Spend the money and do this. There’s nothing like it. I simply can not put it into words.
  • Turn off your phone and enjoy being somewhere you’ve never been before with people you’ve never met.
  • Take it all in…. we don’t know for how long we will have this kind of natural beauty available.

Published by Mariana Vieira da Rocha

"I think it's perfectly acceptable and rather admirable to be moderately delusional"

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