Abel Tasman in the north west peninsula of the South Island, including the town Nelson, Abel Tasman National Park and the surrounding area. It’s known as the sunshine county, where long hot summers are a plenty and veggies grow like crazy. The heat also makes it ideal for vineyards, which produce some world famous wines.
– I should mention that on the ferry from the North to South Island takes a scenic route through Marlborough sounds, and that from Eastern Picton to Abel Tasman is a beautiful drive.-
The Riwaka area is somewhere we stumbled upon while we looking for a free place to camp. The river runs for miles, including through our campsite, and provided a icy, invigorating morning wash. Follow the river upstream and you’ll reach the crystal pools and river resurgence. This is one of the best things we saw in New Zealand. The pools are pale, pure, clear blue, quite deep and cold enough for it to hurt when you stand in it. At the top of the river, you can see where the river surfaces after travelling miles through mountain and rock, via underwater streams and caves. It’s pretty special really. Maori culture highly values water like this, the veins of the earth mother, and it’s not hard to see why. You’re allowed to touch it and swim if you’re crazy enough, but respect its beauty and meaning too.
Abel Tasman National Park
On one side, Abel Tasman is thick jungle and rock, on the other, its pristine beaches and turquoise water. On the north side, a seal colony sits close to shore, and penguins breed in the rocks. We didn’t get to see the beach side of the park, but saw some of the crazy cliffs and pretty foliage. We also drive through Takaka, a hippie town with the best fresh fruit ice cream, and past big farms, where we bought a watermelon worth much more than it’s $3.