This is our second visit to Awaroa, the previous one about 3 years ago. The Abel Tasman national park is one of New Zealand's hidden treasures. It is a little off the normal tourist path so the number of visitors are relatively low, and the park is a nature reserve so development is minimal. Options for staying in the park are very limited. If you walk the track from beginning to end there are a couple of backpacker lodges, but if you are looking to explore in comfort, Awaroa is virtually your only option. (There is another upmarket lodge in the park, but the last time I checked they would only accept a minimum of 5 night bookings). The first decision you have to make is access. You can walk in from Marahau at the start of the track (Marahau is about 1 hour by car from Nelson), boat in from Marahau (about 1 Hr 45mins), small plane or helicopter (from Nelson or Motueka). For the time constrained its small plane or helicopter. We used the small plane last time (contact: Vince at Able Tasman Air). This is the cheaper of the 2 options - about NZ$1500 (both ways) from Nelson Airport. Great service but not ideal if you are at all nervous as you land and take off from a small landing strip, surrounded by hills. The helicopter costs about NZ$2500 and is the best way to do it in my opinion if you want speed and comfort. (contact Tasman Helicopters directly, rather then via the Lodge and you will save a couple of hundred dollars).
The Lodge itself is great. Very relaxed and comfortable. In my opinion go for a superior room (NZ$400/night). We had a superior room and a deluxe room. The deluxe room was cramped,hot, and didn't really have a view, and at only NZ$100 difference it's a no-brainer. The superior rooms are much larger, have a balcony overlooking the bush and better bathroom facilities. Don't expect all the usual trappings - there is no TV, let alone CNN, but the beds are large and extremely comfortable and the rooms have million dollar views. The Lodge is primarily about communing with Nature, not providing pampered 5 star luxury. Those looking for the latter will be disappointed.
The Lodge walks a difficult tightrope catering for 2 distinct markets - backpackers of all ages walking the track and looking for a break and tourists wanting a holiday experience who use the Lodge as a base. It is important to understand this as they are very different in terms of their requirements and this can lead to compromises and service issues. Lodge guests do have a dedicated dining area - outside and inside. Outside is fantastic, but it does get cold here (even in high summer) when the sun goes down. It's important to bring warm clothing. Its also a good idea to book dinner at the beginning of the day, including where you would like to sit. The food here is simply amazing (but not cheap). It is hard to believe the quality they achieve when most things have to be shipped in. They do have a large organic garden, which provides most of the fresh vegetables. Specialities include fresh fish and shellfish and they have a great selection of local wines. They also have their own baker who creates wonderful breads, muffins, and other baking. If you are going walking they will make up packed lunches, but you need to order these the night before.
The staff are great, mostly students or young travellers. In our experience they all have the right attitude and go out of their way to be helpful. Sometimes service can be slow though. This is largely due to unpredicatable numbers of backpackers creating "rushes". But this is a place to chill out. There is nothing else to do apart from look at the view and relax. Somehow the minor glitches add to the experience rather than detract from it (just be prepared for it) and this is just about the only place I have ever been to that I didn't hear at least one guest losing it.
The walks are absolutely magnificent - beautiful beaches and fantastic bush. The first day we walked to Bark Bay and back (5-6 hours walking). If we did it again we would probably get a boat to Anchorage in the morning and walk back. The second day it was off to Totaranui. You have to time this right for the walk across the mudflats at Awaroa inlet and I would suggest that you wear sandals/jandals for this part otherwise you can spend quite a bit of time putting boots on and off.
This is a great experience and I heartily recommend both Abel Tasman National Park and Awaroa Lodge to anyone who enjoys the outdoors.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Awaroa Lodge in the heart of the Abel Tasman National Park has no direct road access so it is essential you arrange transport prior to your stay; our friendly Lodge team can assist you with options, pricing and bookings. Transport is available from Kaiteriteri, Marahau or Totaranui by sea shuttle or water taxi or from more or less anywhere else at the top of the south (or Wellington) by fixed wing plane or helicopter. Just minutes from the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, the lodge offers a remote and spectacular coastline with magnificent scenery, wildlife and native terrain in pristine condition. The lodge 's 26 rooms consist of standard, superior and family suites featuring an ensuite, bar fridge and tea and coffee making facilities, with views of picturesque wetlands and native forest. All guests are encouraged to appreciate the natural surroundings. We make this a little easier without the distractions of modern day life - no mobile phone coverage or in-room televisions make this the perfect place to totally get away! Enjoy the lodge's facilities including a cosy fireplace in the library, internet access, an organic garden , where our onsite restaurant and outdoor pizzeria source the freshest ingredients. Let our team at the activity desk arrange your guided tours. Explore the natural surroundings by tramping or sea kayaking or just laze on the golden sandy beaches of Awaroa Bay. Awaroa Lodge is the ultimate secluded getaway perfect for a romantic escape, family holiday or unique group experience. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Awaroa Hotel Abel Tasman National Park
- Awaroa Hotel Nelson