On The QT

Abel Tasman and the Pancake Rocks

Guest Blogger: Marie Barry

Abel Tasman was the next stop off on our journey after leaving Nelson. Although it is one of New Zealand’s smallest national parks, it offers a great range of activities, which involve exploring it’s beautiful coastline on foot or by sea. The particular trek (or tramp as they call it in New Zealand) we had planned involved kayaking up the coast to a beautiful sandy beach, and hiking the 12 km back to base.

Unfortunately the day we we had chosen was quite windy, and our kayaking trip was cancelled due to safety reasons. However, we were brought up to the Torrent Bay by water taxi so all was not lost, and we got to see some seals playing on a nearby island. As we waved the water taxi off (we we the only two to get off at that particular spot) it genuinely felt as if we we were on some sort of remote island. As we began the coastal trek back to Marahau, the sound of the waves breaking on the pristine beach became more distant, and we adjusted our ears to the sounds of bird call in the forest around us. At various times we emerged onto the coastline again, and admired the breathtaking views before the path took us back through the undergrowth.


Although this route took us three hours to complete, it flew. We passed so many waterfalls, each more beautiful than the next, and the forest was full of impressive foilage and wildlife. Back at the van, we took a rest and made a cup of tea before hitting the road again.

 We were heading for Greymouth, a town further down the west coast. On the way, we stopped off at Punakaiki to see the Pancake rocks. For once we were glad of the wild windy weather as these were the best conditions for viewing the layered stacks and rough blowholes. The sea was as dangerous as I’d ever seen it, with high white waves as far as the eye could see. The waves constantly crashed against the stacks of pancakes spraying the foam high into the air over our heads. No wonder The Lonely Planet described it as ‘Mother Nature at its best’ .


Escaping the high winds, and sea spray, we went back to Punakaiki where we had a cup of tea in the little café shop. I bought a pretty ring made from Puano shell – a beautiful shell lacquered to bring out its sea coloured tones – a lovely memory of the Pankcake Rocks!

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