I took the ferry across the Cook Strait and began my travels through the South Island. I have just under a month here until I fly to New York.
My first impression of the South Island was that it was bloody busy! A few people hadn't pre booked their bus so they were told to catch an intercity bus because the Magic bus was full. I then tried booking a bed for the night on the journey down because someone said it was quite busy. No joke - I rang 6 hostels and they were all full. I ended up splashing out and going for a single room that cost me what two nights normally does.
Still once that was out of the way it was all good. The first day there I took a bus up to Marahau and then a boat to Anchorage which is the first big beach in the Abel Tasman national park. The park covers the land in the north west of the south island all the way up to the coast. The area is really sheltered from the various land that surrounds it and as a result the sea is really flat most of the time and the beaches are absolutely gorgeous.
A few of us walked back from Anchorage stopping off at various beaches/bays along the way. It took us about 4 hours in total and it was a really nice walk. All the time I was looking forward to kayaking around over the next few days.
I met up with Sam from cornwall the next day and we did our shopping for the coming four days. Trying to buy non perishable, compact food that was going to keep us going for 4 days was no easy task. I think we did pretty well in the end though. We got picked up from the hostel by the company hiring out the kayaks. We spent a good hour packing the boats with camping gear, clothes and food and then we were ready to go!
Hiring single kayaks seems pretty uncommon so I think the guy was pretty concerned for a while but we got chatting to him and jumped in the water. By the time we'd paddled a bit, the guy seemed cool and we didn't have to show him any rescues with our boats full of kit - phew!
The first day we had stunning weather and the sea was so calm. We cruised along the coastline stopping off at numerous beaches for a swim and to eat or drink. We bumped into loads of NZ fur seals all the time and we even saw a few seal pups that were about 1 month old apparently. We were supposed to camp at a beach about 5-10k's from Marahau, by the end of the day we'd paddled nearer 25k's so we pleaded naivety with the ranger and he let us stay. Pretty good job really coz I wasn't paddling back!
Over the next couple of days we just did a bit of exploring around the whole place. We went for a walk up to separation point which is the furthest north they let kayakers go. We then slowly made our way down looking at some of the islands and we stayed overnight in a bay that can only be accessed by boat. No walkers on this beach! On the fourth day we paddled up a river that you can only get into at high tide (unless you want to carry a stupidly heavy boat over a sand bank!). Once we'd paddled up as high as we could we walked up the river and found some cool freshwater pools and waterfalls - my closest I came to washing in 3 days! There was also a suspension bridge about 20m high. I heard from a group that was out that you could jump off so I did that in front of a bunch of bemused day trip walkers!
Sadly it was time to come back. As always we spent too long on the beach and had to sprint back to Marahau to give the boats back on time. 20 mins wasn't too late in the grand scheme of things! If ever you are in this part of the country, I would totally recommend seeing the area by boat rather than walking - way better :-D