Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

A taste of the South Island in Abel Tasman

Study abroad is not real life. That’s the best way I can think of to describe it. Can we just acknowledge the fact that my #1 priority and responsibility is to have amazing adventures and to see as much of this beautiful country as possible? This type of lifestyle will probably never ever happen again in my life, so I can assure you I’m taking advantage of every second. I think I’m doing a pretty good job so far.
So what epic adventure did I go on this past weekend?
I flew to the South Island with the IFSA Butler program to kayakhike, and sleep on a floating backpackers in Abel Tasman National Park.

Yeah, pretty cool.

We (the seven of us Victoria/Butler students) had an early wake up call on Saturday morning and got picked up at 6:20 AM to make a 7:45 flight out of Wellington to Nelson, which is one of the northernmost cities on the South Island. I’ve been told that the ferry between Wellington and the South Island is a little over three hours, so you can imagine how quick of a flight this was. We had barely gotten in the air by the time the flight attendant was announcing our descent. Also I should probably mention that we didn’t go through airport security or even need any form of identification to get on the plane. I mean, I know New Zealand isn’t a hot terrorist spot, but still. Just another reason this country is so cool: no security on some (short) domestic flights. Auckland to Wellington is a different story I guess.


My initial thought when landing on the south island was: holy moly, this place is beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, the north island is great (I hope you understand how much I love Wellington at this point in my blog), but the true geographic beauty of New Zealand is found on the south island.

We then drove to Abel Tasman Kayaks to meet our guide, Abby, and start our journey through Abel Tasman National Park. Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand’s smallest national park, is known for it’s golden beaches and picturesque bays. It’s said to be one of the most beautiful places to kayak in the world. In the WORLD! I’m doing so many “most/best/coolest things in the world” these days. I’m definitely not taking any of it for granted, don’t worry.

So the kayak trip was gorgeous, as I’m sure you probably suspected. We started in a town called Marahau and paddled along the coast to Adele Island where we even got the chance to see some seals who were chilling on the rocks and enjoying the amazing day we had been blessed with. (Supposedly Adele Island is named after the wife of an explorer of this area… I forget his name, the seals were distracting. Regardless, it’s not named after Adele the singer, which is naturally where my mind initially went).

After the seal sighting, we retreated to a beach with food on the brain. Our guide had packed us a delicious lunch, complete with kumara salad. Kumara is the Maori word for sweet potato, which many of you know is one of my favorite foods. I’ve been cooking with it quite often these days but this salad was better than anything I’ve ever made. Hard to believe, I know.


After lunch, we decided to abandon the kayaks due to some unforeseen seasickness (not on my part, I love the ocean). But we learned we could hike the rest of the way to our destination, and that seemed like the best idea at the time. Of course, we didn’t leave the beach without taking some pics!

Ultimately I’m really glad we hiked the rest of the way (only a few kilometers) as we got to see some amazing views. If
I’ve learned one thing in New Zealand it’s that you’re never more than a few minutes from something beautiful or really really cool. Whether it’s a waterfall, an epic cliff, a stunning harbor, or even just a field full of sheep, you can always find something picture-worthy (clearly I think so, as I took over 500 pictures this weekend. Whoops).
Once we got to the beach we just hung out, took more pictures (surprise surprise) and explored, before ultimately catching a dingy to our floating hostel! How many people can say they’ve slept on a floating hostel? Not many, that’s for sure.
Aquapackers, as the hostel is known as, was a really cool way to experience Abel Tasman for the night. The crew fed us a delicious meal and we enjoyed the scenic views of Anchorage Bay (where we were anchored– coincidence…?)Then, the seven of us girls were squished into a small cabin for the night. I was a little weary as to how I’d sleep, but luckily I was so exhausted from the early morning and the adventurous day that I passed out to the rocking of the boat in seconds.The next morning we enjoyed a complimentary breakfast and bonded with some German travelers. Did you know that Germans are the most well travelled people in the world? Apparently it’s because they get 6 weeks of paid vacation off every year, and it doesn’t roll over, so everyone uses it every year (see, I am learning something in my tourism class!) But in all seriousness, there are so many German travelers here.
We left the boat around 9:00 am to start our hike for the day. Nothing too eventful happened during the hike, but I did snap some amazing pictures of some more gorgeous scenery and that’s more interesting than my babbling anyways, so here you go!



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