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Avec Amour : New Zealand Travel Diary: Abel Tasman National Park & Nelson

Thursday, May 21, 2015

New Zealand Travel Diary: Abel Tasman National Park & Nelson

I'm back with some more New Zealand travel coverage! It was quite the trip, and I've got at least 3 more posts after this one. 

After we left the little slice of heaven that is Napier, we headed towards Abel Tasman National Park, which is in the northern area of the south island. 

On our way to Wellington (the gateway to the south island!) we drove through Martinborough and did some additional wine tasting on the way. Not a bad way to road trip! Special shout out to my DD who let me try as much wine as I wanted :) 
he's the best :)
The nice guys at Martinborough Vineyards let us taste all of the wines for $5NZ! Quite the deal if you ask me. We also stopped by Margrain Vineyards, and while the wine wasn't my preference, they were perfectly nice and poured generous samples. They also have a very cute cafe is you need a snack!

Then we drove our little car onto the Interislander Ferry and took a trip across the Cook Straight! The ferry was comfortable and nice, and the ride was only about 3 hours. There are plenty of booths and chairs to sit and relax if you want, they also screen a movie you can buy a ticket for if you'd like. 

They have a cafeteria style restaurant if you're hungry, but you're also able to bring your own food (which we did!). They also sell beer, wine, coffee and other fun drinks. While you're invited to bring your own food, you cannot bring outside alcohol for consumption. 

I'd also suggest bringing something to fill your time. We hung out on the deck for the sunset, but once it went dark, I kicked back with my book and sat by the window. We also played cards for a bit, but you could also watch a movie on your laptop or take a nap :)

PS - Check with your rental car provider if driving your car onto the ferry. Some require you turn in your car in Wellington and pick up a new one on the South Island. Jucy allowed us to drive our car across, which saved us a lot of time! And driving the car on/off was actually a lot easier than I imagined it would be.

The drive after we landed on the South Island in Picton, was the worst part of the trip for me personally. Luckily, I had anticipated a little car sickness, as per my friend Claire's tip (THANK YOU!) and had some ginger gum to help easy my nausea. YIKES. 

While it might not look that bad, let's zoom in a little bit.

Every single little zig and zag was pretty much on the side of a cliff. And like I said before, unless you're in a major city like Auckland, you'll be driving on 2 lane roads. In this case, in the dark. With people coming careening around the corner.... I was miserable. I think this would be slightly better if done during the day, but still would make me nervous as you wouldn't have the headlights to let you know someone was coming!

But once we got to Nelson (the town outside of Abel Tasman) where our hotel was, and I was a happy camper again! We stayed at The Sails hotel which was adorable and modern. It was a favorite of ours from the trip. We stayed on the ground floor, which I actually preferred because I could sit on the balcony and drink wine in my bathrobe :)

In the morning, we drove over to Able Tasman to go sea kayaking on a half day tour to Split Apple Rock. It was so beautiful and so much fun!

We were the only two on our tour with The Sea Kayak Company, so it was like we had a private guide to ourself! It was also nice not having to wait for slower people and kind of go where we wanted! You can just rent kayaks rather than going on a "tour", but I enjoyed having someone who knew where we were going and history on the islands we stopped at.

We stopped on this beautiful beach and went shelling (I'm a dork and love shelling) and found some gorgeous shells and awesome sea glass! It was interesting shelling on the complete other side of the world, I saw things I'd never seen before, even with living in Florida my whole life.

After exploring the beach and paddling back, we were shocked to see the beach we started at was much longer... the tide had gone out almost a quarter mile! 

When we got back from our kayaking adventure!
When we arrived! Big difference!

I also found this pretty little starfish guy. So unique, right? Definitely unlike any starfish I've ever seen! The perfect end to a perfect day.

After a long day of kayaking, we wanted a nice dinner! We got a few suggestions from our guide, one of which he said "you'll never get in without a reservation" - but we walked right in! The hostess said we were incredibly lucky, apparently this never happens. I'll take it! It was one of our favorite meals :) 

It was at the Boat Shed Cafe, and I loved it! We ordered several of their "small" plates and shared... my favorite way to eat. Not to mention, we got a table on their covered patio (it's open when the weather is warmer!) with this beautiful view of the sunset! The whole restaurant was adorable and we loved it. 

I would definitely recommend making the reservations if you're headed to Nelson! And ask for a table on the patio ;) 

We also dined at DeVille for coffee and a breakfast to-go that we loved in Nelson! I wish we'd had another day to stay and hang out in adorable little Nelson/Abel Tasman. We loved it!

Have you ever done Abel Tasman? While it might not be Milford Sound, I think it's a site not to be missed on your epic trip to New Zealand!

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