I’m in the middle of a speed round, spending just a night or two in different places as I make my way down the west side of the South Island. My most recent stop was the city of Nelson, where the most popular must-see is nearby Abel Tasman National Park.

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By New Zealand standards, this is a “small” park, but it packs a huge variety of adventures, both on land and on the sea. To get to the park, I took a day trip from Nelson with one of several companies that offer transport for hikers, campers and kayakers.

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There were about ten passengers in our van for the one-hour ride to the park and, once we arrived at Abel Tasman, we switched to a water taxi for a scenic journey to our respective starting points. I was dropped off at Torrent Bay for a 6km hike to Bark Bay. That’s just a tiny portion of the larger Abel Tasman Coastal Track.

I keep using the same adjectives over and over again … but this hike was spectacular. My trail followed a path through the bush that was punctuated by beaches, bays and scenic views of the sea.

I also keep repeating the benefits of visiting must-sees during their low season. By following that strategy, I’ve experienced some of the world’s most beautiful sights with low — or no! — crowds.

That’s how my low-season hike in Abel Tasman unfolded. I encountered very few people, and there were plenty of times when I had all these trees and trails to myself.

The best part happened when I took a little side hike down the hillside to Sand Fly Bay. The trail to the bay was rough and rocky, but the reward was … here it comes … spectacular!  And I had it all to myself. 🙂

There was also a (spectacular!) suspension bridge where the hike crosses the Falls River.

I’m not a big fan of organized tours but, if I’m going to take one, this was my ideal scenario. I was transported to the park, dropped off, and given four hours to complete my hike at my own pace.

Heaven!!!

When I got to Bark Bay, I still had about an hour to hang out on the beach (alone!!!) before my water taxi arrived. 

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Actually, I wasn’t exactly alone. There were a lot of bumble bees in the park, and they kept landing on me — and STAYING! It was a bit unnerving at first, but I figured they were just hanging out and enjoying a spectacular day.

Like me.

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Here are more photos from my day trip to Abel Tasman National Park: