The sun rose brilliantly over Marlborough and the beach at Takaka reflected its golden rays. We kick-started our morning with a walk to Rawhiti Cave and around the Grove Scenic Reserve. The walk to the cave is easy and can be done within an hour, and viewing the stalactites in the cave entrance is spectacular.
At the nearby Paynes Ford, some of the best rock climbing in the country can be mastered, and the Wainui falls just 30 minutes out of Takaka are a must-see. We made the most of the stunning forest scenery, before returning to our van to plan our next movements. We decided to head on to the Abel Tasman, and try our hand at sea-kayaking. We packed the van up, and filled it up with supplies, heading north via Tata Beach, which is home to another handsome beach and a colonies of seabirds.
At Tata beach, we picked up a sea kayak, which we secured to the roof racks on the van, and continued around the coast. We passed through Pohara, which is popular for windsurfing and kayaking, and then followed the winding road to Totaranui. At Totaranui, a large campground can host up to 850 people, but there are no shops, so supplies need to be bought at Takaka. A long golden beach stretches the length of the campground, and in summer bookings are essential if you want to stay. We found a great spot to camp up, and once we were set up, we set off for a kayak.
From Totaranui, the Abel Tasman is your oyster! We spent about an hour kayaking over to the beautiful nearby Awaroa beach, passing Goat bay and Waiharakeke Bay on our way. The lodge at Awaroa bay is fantastic, and we enjoyed a cold beer and delicious lunch. To be able to do so in the middle of a national park was such a treat!
Alas, no rest for the wicked! We continued our kayak around the coast to arrive at Anchorage, taking in the beautiful scenery as we went. It really was something else to experience the Abel Tasman from the sea. We were tired once we reached Anchorage, but after pulling up the kayak, we pulled on our tramping boots. An hour of walking took us to Cleopatra’s Pool - one of the hidden gems of the Abel Tasman. At this pool, there is a moss-covered natural waterslide leading from one crystal clear pool into another. We had a lot of fun slipping and sliding down it, and felt refreshed by the fresh clean water.
Returning to Anchorage, we took a water taxi back to Totaranui. We were back in seemingly no time at all, given how long it had taken to kayak! We were exhausted after our full day of activities, and were happy to make use of the campfires and facilities at the campground. We cooked up a hearty meal, and enjoyed a drink around the fire with some other happy campers.
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