KAITERITERI is a delightful seaside holiday town on the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island. The sheltered bay is a water paradise; the nearby Abel Tasman National Park a monument to nature! astonishedXpression recounts the best way to spend a day in this exciting destination.
Upon arrival, we sluiced the road grime from our bodies with a quick dip before venturing to another beach featuring Split Apple Rock.
Braving razor sharp rocks, treacherous ocean currents and shark alley, I leapt over gaping chasms to eventually scale the centre of the rock. My partner, watching in awe and bursting with pride at her man’s heroics, immortalised my feat in digital format for any doubters out there.
After dinner – NZ lamb chops with bacon and honey sausages – we took a romantic twilight stroll at 9.15pm along the Kaiteriteri Beach. Have I mentioned how delicious New Zealand lamb is? Those Kiwis certainly know their sheep!
Everything seemed to be falling into place when we woke up in our humble accommodation at Bethany Park Christian Camp the next morning. Blue skies and bright sunshine peeked through the window. Today was our Abel Tasman cruise and I wanted the weather to be perfect!
We met the skipper at Stephens Bay for our Abel Tasman charter on the Taranui. It was only us and two couples from the Netherlands and United States.
We motored out to the charter boat in a dinghy. Our initial route took us past Kaiteriteri, Split Apple Rock and Marahau before heaving-to off Adele Island to see seals frolicking in the crystal clear water.
Taking advantage of the perfect weather, we powered our way up the coast, stopping for a quick history lesson at Observation Beach and a dinghy ride into a sparkling cove surrounded by lush vegetation. The translucent water was stunningly clear with massive ferns decorating the coastline.
The skipper dropped us off at Shag Harbour from where we kayaked to Onetahuti Beach. After a swim in the bracingly refreshing water we kayaked to the Taranui for lunch, which included marinated NZ green lipped mussels, salmon and ciabatta bread rolls. No lamb?
We sailed slowly past the Tonga arches and Rod dropped anchor at the Anchorage where we tramped part of the famous Abel Tasman track to Te Pukatea Bay via Pitt Head.
The heat and exercise proved too much for the lovely Dutch lady and she fainted along the track. Fortunately, she revived and we assister her for the rest of the way to be received by a very relieved captain!
One of the many highlights of the trip was snorkelling in the azure waters while feeding bread to hundreds of sparkling fish. Amazing!
We stood on the bow, contented – spray in our faces – as the Taranui slammed into the choppy swells, which had picked up with the afternoon breeze. An incredibly rewarding adventure we pondered as the Taranui made its way back to Stephens Bay…
The Taranui provided us with the opportunity to experience an amazing coastline from both a land- and sea-based perspective. With limited time or purely for the joy of it, this is definitely the way to see the Abel Tasman!
Kaiteriteri Things To Do
The Ultimate Abel Tasman Day Trip
Departing at about 10am from Stephens Bay, a short drive from Kaiteriteri, the power catamaran Taranui takes you past Kaiteriteri, Split Apple Rock, Marahau, Adele Island, and crystalline coves, towards the Tonga Island seal colony. A delicious lunch is served at scenic spots such as Onetahuti beach or Shag Harbour.
Rod has 35 years of experience in the Abel Tasman and is a treasure trove of information on the area’s history and geology. He is also very adaptable and will modify his itinerary to cater to the interests of those on board. During our cruise, we kayaked from Shag Harbour to Onetahuti beach, tramped from Anchorage to Te Pukatea, and snorkelled in the Abel Tasman’s crystal-clear water. Absolute heaven!
Rod ensures optimal service and enjoyment by keeping passengers to a minimum.
Kayak through crystal-clear water
There are many companies in and around Kaiteriteri and Marahua who will facilitate a guided tour or even assist with freedom kayaking. Kahu Kayaks consistently receive top reviews from travellers all over the world. Other well regarded companies include The Sea Kayak Company, Abel Tasman Kayaks and Kaiteriteri Kayaks.
Most companies offer half-day or full day tours. You need a reasonable level of fitness for a full day excursion. Early morning is generally regarded as the best time to kayak prior to the wind or surf picking up.
A popular one-day trip may be to catch a water taxi to Onetahuti beach and then kayak down-wind towards Marahou or Kaiteriteri. If this is too far, catch a water taxi back from Torrent Bay.
Another well-liked option is to combine a kayak and tramp journey through the Abel Tasman.
Explore Te Pukatea Bay
Te Pukatea is typical of the many scenic bays dotting the Abel Tasman National Park coastline. Glorious unspoilt golden beaches, lush vegetation covered in ferns, and the postcard perfect water…
The tramp from Achorage to Te Pukatea (or in reverse) is one of the favourite walks in the Abel Tasman and easily completed in about an hour.
Whether tramping, kayaking or cruising, your efforts will be rewarded with the most amazing vistas.
Experience Onetahuti Beach
Onetahuti Beach is a paradise! Long stretches of idyllic golden sand soothed by the lapping lapis lazuli of Tonga Bay…
One of Abel Tasman National Park’s premier beaches, it is only accessible on foot or via water transport. It falls within a Marine Protected Area, which means fishing and removal of any resources are strictly prohibited.
Onetahuti is a popular and sheltered starting point for kayak trips downwind towards Marahau. It is also the ideal base from which to explore Tonga Island with its wildlife bounty. Seals bask on the rocky shoreline to the north of Onetahuti. In summer, the water is wonderfully refreshing.
Easily accessible by water taxi from either Kaiteriteri or Marahau.
Seal pups at Shag Harbour
Shag Harbour is a wonderfully scenic seal rookery hidden in a cove to the north of Onetahuti beach in the stunning Abel Tasman National Park. Gliding through the crystal clear water on a bright orange kayak with emerald green vegetation clinging to rocky outcrops is what travel brochures lust after – Shag Harbour is the real thing!
To reach, kayak south from Awaroa or north from Onetahuti.
Kayak or cruise to Tonga Island
New Zealand fur seals perched on sun-drenched rocks; seabirds circling above; penguins popping their heads above turquoise water: this is what kayakers see when they glide past Tonga Island – a short paddle from Onetahuti Beach in the Abel Tasman National Park.
Tonga Island is deservedly on the itinerary of most kayak and cruise tours along the stunning Abel Tasman coast.
This area is part of a marine reserve covering 18.35 square km of sea. Fishing and the removal of any resources are strictly prohibited.
Snorkel with living jewels
The crystal-clear water of the Abel Tasman National Park simply insists on aquativity in warmer weather! There are so many protected coves that allow sub-surface investigation one would be silly not to indulge. Whether from the beach or off the side of a cruise, it is a wonderful experience to don some goggles and float among the living jewels of the Abel Tasman.
Cool off at Kaiteriteri Beach
AA New Zealand has rated Kaiteriteri as the country’s 2nd best beach. Sheltered between headlands and boasting rock islands for decoration, Kaiteriteri beach is a hive of summer activity with water sports and sunbathing at the top of the list of things-to-do. The beach has wide swathes of golden sand fringed by convenient parking along Kaiteriteri Sandy Bay road on the one side and azure waters on the other.
Yachts and power boats bob in the gentle swell while kids race each other to an anchored diving platform out in the bay. Kayaks lie scattered on the golden sand like so many multi-coloured beached jewels.
Summer days stretch languidly into lovely twilight walks along the beach at about 9.15pm.
View Split Apple Rock from the beach
Split Apple Rock is a standard inclusion on the itinerary for most cruises from Kaiteriteri or Marahau. However, you can view Split Apple Rock from the comfort and relative privacy of an isolated beach. Driving along the Sandy Bay-Marahau Rd from Kaiteriteri, turn right into Tokongawa Drive, at the first split (with Lady Barkly) turn right to stay on Tokongawa, stay right on Tokongawa (at Gannet Heights), turn left to stay on Tokongawa (at Venture Cove) and then turn right into Moonraker Way.
Find a parking spot and walk through the vegetation down to a beautifully isolated beach with great views over a sheltered bay towards Split Apple Rock. At low tide it is possible to rock hop and wade over to the impressive landmark. And best of all – it’s free!
Split Apple Rock is also a lovely kayak destination from either Kaiteriteri or Marahau.
Compare the South Island’s major attractions at Off the Beaten Path in New Zealand
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