New Zealand South Island Tour
On our second week in New Zealand we hit the road up north until Abel Tasman Bay. On the way, we stopped in the lovely cities of Dunedin (kingdom of Highlanders rugby team and settlers museum) and Nelson (epicentre of New Zealand).
What to do in Dunedin
Dunedin is the second largest city in the south island of New Zealand. It is not only the home of famous local rugby team of the Highlanders but also a very large students city due to the Otago University. We only stayed 2 days and one night. Even if it was summer period and the city looked a bit empty without any students, the evening was quite busy in the main square of the town with terraces and bars crowded. It is a nice city to walk through filled with extremely cute coffee shops and concepts stores as well as luxurious green parks. But the main attraction that you should definitively not miss is the Settlers Museum. A completely free museum explaining how settlers arrived on this land. It is an impressive place, specially the room filled of portraits of all the original settlers and their families. In the centre you will find an interactive screen, choose a portrait and learn more about any person displayed on those walls. If you want you can also dress yourselves with a vintage costume and take some old-fashioned pictures. Definitively worth it!
What to do in Nelson
We left from Christchurch where we spent a very short night to go to Nelson. We had a quite rocky trip as our Intercity bus unfortunately broke not only a wheel but also the suspension system after 1 hour drive. We had to wait around 2 hours to get a new bus coming to pick us up to our final destination. Nonetheless thanks to our amazing Intercity drivers and team we got quite entertained the entire time. After 5 hours we arrived at Nelson which is not only the oldest city of New Zealand but also the very central point of the country. Despite the touristic attraction of the epicentre, Nelson is also very famous to be the starting point of travellers who aim to go to the very Famous Abel Tasman Trail. We spent 3 days and 2 nights in Nelson and we had a lovely stay at the #BridgeBackpackersHostel. A very affordable hostel with gym, amazing breakfast included and free bicycles to go around the town. It is also very well located just in front of the bus station to go to Abel Tasman.
Abel Tasman Trail
Abel Tasman is the name of the bay which separates the North and South Island of New Zealand. It is named after the Deutch explorer who first discovered the Island. It is nowadays the most famous touristic destination of the country. This trail offers the best and most unconventional views between the luxurious inside lands and the perfect crystalline blue water beaches all over the coast. Whether you would take a one day or a multi-day trek, you will experiment unbelievable views.
How to access the trail?
Starting point is generally Marahau located at 60km from Nelson. Regular buses lead you to the official water taxi which runs the transfers including several stops along the coast. Here you can check the trail map and decide the best itinerary. You need to book buses and water taxi well ahead in high season because the seats are limited.
Where to stay?
If you decide to go trekking for a couple of days as we did, you must book in advance a spot in one of the official huts. We took the water taxi from Marahau until Totaranui and spent the night at Bark Bay Hut. To book it you should visit the official webpage into the section camping&accomodations and book where you would like to stay.
How to plan your time?
The Abel Tasman trail is very easy with very little difficulties. It is mainly flat at the exception of a very small steep section between Awaroa Bay and Onetahuti. The kilometres and timeline provided on the map are very reliable so you should count on it at the time of deciding your itinerary. Another very important point to organise your time is to check the tides timetable as certain parts of the trail could increase consequently your timeline depending if you can take the short cut or not. We experienced it at Anchorage bay as the tide was low at 4am. We arrived there at 8am and had no choice but to take the longest coast path as the water already covered the bay. This meant for us an additional 1h30min on our itinerary. So don’t forget to ask the timetable to the rangers before hitting the road. We would also highly recommend you to count in some times to enjoy the beautiful beaches you will cross during the trek. We definitively didn’t count enough breaks and we regretted a bit to not have stopped longer to certain beautiful spots as they were totally deserted and so beautiful!