Weekend Kayaking to Anchorage - Abel Tasman

3 years ago Julie and I decided that we were going to kayak from Marahau to Anchorage.  Last year cyclone Lucy meant we had to cancel our trip and wait another year.

Setting off from Marahau at dawnElephant rockIn the last weekend of February 2014 after months of planning, Julie, Heather and I loaded our kayaks with our provisions at dawn at Marahau and started our paddle across almost glass seas.  We certainly noticed the difference in weight with everything we had packed.  Each of us with more than we had planned with those little extra treats added just because there was space in the hull.

We kayaked through the Astrolabe Roadstead to Watering Cove – our pit stop before heading out to the Mad Mile.  Check out the really cool rock that looks like an elephant.

Next we had to tackle the Mad Mile.  We have heard so many stories of rough seas through this stretch so we were expecting the worst and got the best conditions we could hope for.  We even had a chance to check out some of the little coves along the way.

We were pleased to see Te Pukatea bay knowing that we could easily walk to the DOC hut at Anchorage from here if the weather was rough or we were to tired to carry on – our plan B….oh and Plan C was to walk from Watering Cove if the conditions were not favourable in the Mad Mile.  We kayaked around Pitt Head and into Anchorage.  We could now take our time and explore the little coves on the way knowing that the Mad Mile was behind us.  At 10:30 in the morning we found ourselves standing on the beach at Anchorage having achieved our goal in just over three hours with the stop at Watering Cove!

Arriving at AnchorageWe made it

In the afternoon we took a walking trip across the estuary to Torrent Bay – where Julie took us down memory lane of her childhood holidays.

The DOC hut at Anchorage is almost new and has 4 bunk rooms that sleep 8.  We shared the room with a lovely Frenchman Silva; who was more than surprised at the bottle of Wine and Heather’s homemade Camembert for pre-dinner snacks.   This was followed by Heather’s yummy homemade Mushroom & Bacon risotto.  Other guests were more than impressed with our spread – the joys of being able to carry lots in the kayak hulls?  The evening was finished off with a few rounds of Rummikub – a fun and mind challenging game which combines elements of rummy and mah-jong.

Playing Rummikub

The sun rose on Saturday morning and the water was as smooth as glass.  Julie and I decided to kayak up to Falls River and Heather would walk to Falls River Swing Bridge.  On our way we checked out Frenchman Bay and tried to kayak into the estuary but the tide was too low.  The tide at the entrance to Falls River was also low and we just made it through with a little bit of hard work but it was all worth it.

Water like glassKayaking under falls river swing bridge

We then cruised around the Pinnacle islands and checked out the seals and shags.  The water was so clear here that we could see the horse mussels on the rocks.  You felt like you could just reach down and get them….although the water was a little too deep for that.  We stopped on a little bay just before North head and had a swim and relax in the sun.  We checked out a few of the other bays on our way back to anchorage….I have never seen so many kina on rocks in the water below.

In the afternoon we took a lovely walk to Cleopatra’s Pool where we meet up with Heather for an afternoon dip in the cool waters.  It was a lot smaller than I imagined.

Julie in the waterfall at Cleopatra's Pool

Tonight’s pre-dinner snacks were yummy Greek dolmades and of course more wine.  This was followed by Jilie's yummy homemade Venison stew and to top it off we had Julie's lovely homemade chocolate caramel brownie!  This beat my toffee pops hands down!  We had more completion in the cooking department tonight with two other tables having a spread to equal ours lol.

On Sunday morning we got up early and started our journey back to Marahau at  7:30am with thoughts of a Fat Tui bugger on completion.  Once again the water just had a light ripple on it and the sun was about to come up.  As we reached Pitt Head Mich was silhouetted in the first rays of the morning sun – another magic moment!

We casually kayaked back to Marahau past Adele Island on the crystal clear waters listening to the amazing chorus of birds singing the morning report and watching the many stingrays gliding in the waters below the kayaks.  Absolutely awesome!

We had one last stop at Appletree Bay before heading back to Marahau as we wanted to beat the tide….we definitely didn’t want to haul the kayaks across the sandflats.  The day finished with a lovely lunch at Toad Hall – unfortunately the Fat Tui did not open until 12 for buggers and we didn’t want to hang around for another hour.

This was definitely one of my favourite kayak trips of all times and certainly the longest!  I could not have done it without Heather and Julie – a big thank you goes out to them!

The trip photos can be found in the photo gallery.


  • Try and time your kayaking with high tides in the morning as the ocean is often carmer at this time of the day.
  • The tide goes out a long way at Marahau so it is better to depart or arrive back in Marahau approxiamtely 3 hours either side of high tide.
  • You can reach Anchrorage from Watering Cove & Te Pukatea bay if the ocean seas become too rough to go all the way.
  • Marahau Taxis will bring you and/or your kayak out of the national park if the weather is bad and you cannot kayak home.  They also have a good Abel Tasman National Park map here