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Anchorage Escape: Freedom!

Here’s a rewarding and adventurous way to experience some of the best of the Abel Tasman National Park – sea kayak from Marahau to Anchorage then return to Marahau by foot along the Abel Tasman Coastal track. My partner and I completed this trip on a sunny day in July, the middle of the New Zealand winter. It was impressive in winter and I can imagine it would be just as good in summer, only with a few less layers of merino and a few more hours of daylight.

We hired sea kayaks and gear from Marahau Sea Kayaks, and had chosen the Freedom Anchorage package which meant exploring without a guide. We were given a comprehensive safety briefing and then sent on our way. Once we launched from the beach at Marahau just how we spent the rest of the day was completely up to us – and this is what I love about the Freedom Anchorage package. You truly have the freedom of adventure.

Once you’re on the water you can make your own decisions as to how you spend your time. You can take all the photo stops you want to make sure the shot is just right. You can take a full hour or more for lunch and a nap if you want to. You can even just pull up on a beach, lay back, put your feet up and relax in the sun before the walk back.

Fisherman Island, and nearby Adele Island, can be seen from Marahau. Both islands have been part of a rodent eradication project that was initiated to enable native birdlife to regenerate. A seal colony on Adele Island also proves to be a popular attraction. We spent a couple of hours exploring the waters around the islands – relaxing to native birdsong and watching playful seals. What looks like a long way from the mainland is really only a 30 minute paddle, so there is plenty of time to explore!

The white-sand beach at Watering Cove provided a spectacular spot for a picnic lunch, before we hopped back into the sea kayaks and skirted Pitt Head with a detour to explore  Te Pukatea Bay.  We rounded the point into Torrent Bay and arrived on the beach at Anchorage, the final destination for the kayak leg of the journey. After a clothing change and a quick snack we were on our feet and on the Abel Tasman Coastal trail back to Marahau. It’s a 13 kilometre hike through rich native bush from Anchorage to Marahau – depending on your walking speed and number of stops taken to admire the view, it will take 3-5 hours. Once again the adventure is all yours. There are countless viewpoints from the trail across Tasman Bay and out across the water we had explored earlier in the day by kayak.

Additional tips:

  • We spent 3 hours meandering our way up the coastline from Marahau in the sea kayaks. You could spend as long as you like paddling, but we wanted to allow ourselves plenty of time to also enjoy the walk back before darkness fell.
  • Take plenty of food, water, sunscreen and spare batteries for the camera. Also, if you go in winter months, leave some supplies in the car for when you return as no shops are open after 5pm.
  • If you have 2 days, you could book the hut at Anchorage for the night and get your gear dropped off by a water taxi.  This gives you more time to explore and enjoy the area!
Blog by Hannah Johnston
Make It Dirt