We are not usually ones to pay for tourist activities, generally preferring to go out exploring on our own to avoid the large crowds and see the sites at our own pace. However, when I came across the opportunity to go sea kayaking in New Zealand I knew this was one activity worth paying for. Yes, there are ‘freedom kayaking’ options, but with limited kayaking experience I thought we’d be better off to pay the extra amount and really enjoy ourselves out on the ocean with the comfort of a trained professional watching out for us.
There are plenty of companies out there offering kayaking packages right across the South island of NZ, and I’m not sure what really drew me to Wilson’s Abel Tasman. It was one of the first companies I came across after being directed to it via the 100% Pure New Zealand website. They seemed to check all the boxes in terms of kayak time on the ocean, seeing wildlife and iconic land formations and being reasonably priced so I proceeded to book the Beaches, Bays and Seals tour package through the internet. During the whole booking process the staff were very helpful, responding to emails promptly and meeting special requests.
The tour itself was an excellent experience. Despite some unforeseen changes to the day, like our shuttle boat breaking down, we had an amazing time. We lucked out with gorgeous weather, making our paddle around the pristine coastline and estuaries even more pleasurable as the gentle waves glistened in the sunshine. Our tour guide, Whitey, was a knowledgeable, friendly host who added to the day’s enjoyment, providing us with interesting facts on the history and natural environment of the area. Highlights of the kayaking tour included paddling past the baby seals, who were playing in the protected pools, and kayaking against and with the current through to beautiful, isolated estuaries off of the coast. The scenery passed was simply breathtaking and it seeing it from the water was a different and exciting way of experiencing the outdoors.
Since we were spending the night in Kaiteriteri, we were able to include the extended walking option with our tour. This gave us the opportunity to hike along some of the Abel Tasman National Park trail (another of New Zealand’s great walks). The easy walk took us a little over an hour to complete and lead us to a beautiful beach at Anchorage, which we were able to explore while waiting for our shuttle boat.
Although I felt sea sick at some stages during the day, a complete surprise to me since I never get motion sickness, I would still definitely recommend a kayak tour to anyone travelling to the Nelson/Abel Tasman/ Golden Bay area of New Zealand – and realistically any area of the country. As an interesting alternative to walking, it is certainly money well spent when allowing access to such isolated, beautiful scenery and wildlife.