When it came to planning our trip around the South Island of New Zealand, our meager pre-planning pretty much consisted of answering one question: clockwise or counter-clockwise? Seeing as how we’re flying out of Christchurch in a few weeks, we decided to drive counter-clockwise around the island, finishing in Christchurch. On Christmas night I booked the next few nights in a campground up the road in Motueka. We didn’t know much about the area other than it’s close to Abel Tasman National Park. We assumed it will be a crowded tourist area, but seeing as how it’s the holiday season, there’s not much we can do about that.
The drive to Motueka reminded us of California near the Bay Area. There were lots of vineyards along the road and some of the surrounding hills were actually brownish instead of being completely green like most of New Zealand has been so far. We checked into our campsite quickly and headed out to nearby Kaiteriteri beach. A couple locals warned us it would be crowded, but it actually wasn’t bad compared to busy beaches I’ve been to near San Diego. Can you believe this was the first time on our entire trip (including the U.S.) when we’ve actually relaxed by laying on a beach? It was even warm enough to take a dip in the water.
Back at camp, the already busy campground had grown even more crowded. There were lots of campervans, caravans, and kids crowded into a small area. I’m tempted to say it was a madhouse, but it really wasn’t. The kids were having a ball jumping on the nearby inflatable pillow trampoline, but other than that, it wasn’t too noisy considering how tightly packed in we all were. When it came time for bed we were able to get a good night’s sleep.
The next morning we had tickets for a boat ride up the coast into Abel Tasman National Park. There is a walking track along the coastline which is popular with visitors. Some people hike the entire track, which takes several days, but we only planned to walk about 7 km of it. The boat took us along the coastline of the national park and we got a brief glimpse of some seals and many views of lovely coastal scenery. Rather than try to describe the bright blue water, golden sandy beaches and green hillsides, why don’t I let some of our photos show how nice it was?
After the boat dropped us off on a beach, we found the hiking trail and climbed a couple hundred feet above the sea. Looking down at the beaches and blue water was even more breathtaking than the views from the boat. Thankfully the trail went mostly through shady forest because it was a bright sunny day. By the time we reached our end point the wind was blowing pretty strongly and we were happy to get inside out of the wind and sun. We capped off the night with pizza and ice cream in town before returning to camp.
All of our photos from Abel Tasman National Park: