When you’re backpacking on a small budget you have to choose wisely what you spend your money on. After days of slow travel and soaking in the natural beauty in New Zealand, I reached the stunning Abel Tasman, a National Park that combines lush forests, golden beaches and a beautifully carved coastline. This place was screaming adventure at me. So I dived right into my funds and booked a Sea Kayak Tour.
A speed boat ride later I found myself on the most tranquil sandy beach at the heart of the Abel Tasman about to jump into my bright yellow kayak. Although I’m a big fan of water sports, I had never done sea kayaking before and had no idea what to expect.
The sea was calm and a small group of us headed out of the bay to start the tour. My body was held in place by a thick material that prevents water from getting into the kayak. My legs started itching and I had no way of reaching them. Keep paddling I thought. I was bitten by dozens of tiny little sand-flies that the area is so well-known for and it was driving me crazy, but I had to concentrate to avoid losing control of the kayak.
I looked up and spotted a tiny little island inhabited by a group of quirky little grey seals. As a child I had my heart set on the idea of becoming a Marine Biologist, so naturally being so close to marine wildlife felt like a dream come true. We continued our tour along the coastline. The views of the Abel Tasman from the sea left me speechless. All I could hear was the rhythmic sound of the sea and our paddles hitting the waves. I don’t think I had ever felt that alive.
We paddled towards the shore to stop for a picnic lunch underneath the trees. Quiche never tasted that good before. As we set off to embark on the final part of the adventure a ray gliding through the water right underneath my kayak caught my attention. I knew there wouldn’t have been a better way for me to explore this National Park. Don’t get me wrong, I love hiking, but being out there in a kayak made me see the full beauty of the Abel Tasman. The powerful sea and peaceful land are in perfect symbiosis with each other and I felt privileged to experience that. As travelers we seek to explore, understand and live a meaningful life, but sometimes the moments where nature makes us feel small and irrelevant teach us the biggest lesson by putting everything into perspective. I look back on that knowing that splashing out on that kayak tour was the right call. The memories are worth so much more than the price I paid.