Nelson and the Able Tasman

Our position is

40 54.2 south

173 50.3 east

French pass

After waiting for most of the day we left the anchorage at 14.45 to go through French pass.  It turned out to be a pussycat although we could see the white water surrounding it earlier we passed through the ‘gate’ without a problem.  We sailed down the coast with just the genny out anchoring in Croisilles harbour overnight. 

Bill caught a fish

Bill caught a lovely fish and we think it was a Blue cod.  The next morning we made an early start and left the harbour just after 8.30.  We had the sails up for about an hour before the wind died so we motorsailed for half an hour then the wind came from nowhere with 30kt gusts.  At 11.30 it just stopped as if someone had switched if off so we motored the rest of the way tying up in Nelson harbour marina at 14.00.

Our position is  41 15.6 south,  173 16.8 east

Nelson, NZ 


Nelson was a nice town with some very nice shops, one of which was Spotlight, which is a bit like Hobbicraft.  I stocked up on zips, cottons, and material for my projects.  We also stocked the food cupboards up at Countdown, a very nice supermarket just like Sainsburys!  There was a really good launderette so I caught up with all the washing plus the biggest achievement was we managed to get propane Gas.  We have a couple of old gas bottles that Bill was convinced the kiwi’s wouldn’t fill but I managed to persuade the local garage to fill one of them after I managed to produce a date when the bottle was serviced.  Ironically we think it was a part number that just happened to look like a date 11/07 any way he was happy and I got my gas. 

Amusing sign

After all the housekeeping we were able to have a wander around the town, this sign was outside one of the local pubs, a good way to get more customers in!

Beach on Adele Island

Our position is

40 58.7 south

173 03.1 east

Adele Island, Able Tasman, NZ

After 3 nights in Nelson we left for the Able Tasman National park.  This is a beautiful area tucked up in the northwest corner of South island and is one of New Zealand’s most popular national parks.  It’s named after the first known European to see New Zealand.  It’s a charming combination of native bush and golden sand beaches.  Like some of the other parts of the NZ coast it can’t be reached by road so the only way to see it is by boat or walk. 

Shell sand bar off Adele island

The coastal track takes 2 or 3 days to walk staying in campsites along the way, or it’s possible by sea kayak. We stayed in a stunning anchorage behind Adele island.  It had a beautiful shell sand bar, which we walked along.  It was probably the best anchorage we found in NZ.  There were 3 other boats anchored off the beach so it was a bit crowded!  We left the next morning for torrent bay just along the coast. 

Seal playing with fish

On our passage we watched a seal playing with his fish, he wasn’t at all bothered by us slowly circling him.  After finishing one fish he would disappear for a few minutes then surface with another one, playing with it like a cat plays with a mouse. 

Torrent bay

We moved along to torrent bay, which had a nice campsite but nothing else.  We started walking along the beach but discovered it had sand flies so we quickly retreated back to the safety of the boat.  The next morning we awoke to really awful weather, low cloud and rain so we motored back to Adele island where at least there was a mobile signal to use the internet.  The following day was Sunday but the weather wasn’t much better so we took the dinghy across the bay to Marahau the nearest village to treat ourselves to a ‘coffee and a slice’ a NZ delicacy which we’ve got used to enjoying.  The New Zealanders have a very sweet tooth and most coffee shops sell wonderful slices with all sorts of toppings on them, many include chocolate! 

Seal on the rocks

On the way back we spotted seals playing around the rocks so we took the dinghy in closer to get a better look.  The next day was usual Monday morning weather, blue skies and light winds so we motored further north.  We passed a couple of bays with names like Mosquito bay and Sandfly bay, they didn’t sound very inviting, and anchored in Tonga bay.  This had the best beach in the Able Tasman; it seemed to stretch on for miles.  We walked some of it but the anchorage was very rolly and, as we were on a lee shore, we decided to sail back to Adele island. 

Beautiful Tonga beach
Bill fighting the dolphins for his fish

The Able Tasman was as far west as we were going in this latitude, the next time we will be on 173 east will be when we are on our way to Vanuatu.  We left the next morning to cross the Tasman bay.  It was a beautiful day but no wind so the engine was on.  Bill put his fishing line out to try and catch some fish.  He kept catching blue cod, which we didn’t want because they are very difficult to fillet but he caught one after another and kept putting them back.  Then the dolphins arrived and kept trying to steal them, it was very funny watching Bill telling the dolphins off and cursing every time he brought the line up to find another blue cod.  I don’t think he’s ever caught so many fish before, I think the final count was eight.  Eventually he caught a Terakihi which was delicious.

Dolphin leapingDolphins under the boat in Tasman bay


Beautiful dolphins under the boat in Tasman bay

Posted on March 29, 2011, in Port posts. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Gordon Patrick. Fulmar Serene.

    Good morning Sue and Bill,

    Been reading your logs regularly but enjoyed reading the latest piece on Adele Island etc, we had lunch one day on the beach while our guide told us about the background to the name Adele Island, it brough back memories. We were fortunate to do the Able Tasman track over 3 days when we were down under over 10 years ago. We did the walk with a local company and fortunately stayed over night in sheltered accommodation. The final night we stayed in a house that had been originally built by two brothers in the 1800’s when their father bought them land in the area for farming which unfortunately was not a patch on the Canterbury Plain. It took 3 days for the walk but only a couple of hours to get back by a pleasure craft that we boarded after the last nights stop. Wonderful scenery and as you said we also met Kiwi’s who thought that it was NZ’s finest walk. We also walked the Milford Track, too many sand flies at times, interesting but not as nice as the Able Tasman.

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