Kaiteriteri about 60km north of Nelson is one of New Zealands most popular seaside playgrounds with one of the best beaches in the South Island. Few spots boast such natural beauty and accessibility to a wide range of recreational activities as well as proximity to one of the countrys most sunny national parks.
This seaside resort is just 13 km from the busy township of Motueka, and five km from Marahau - the main gateway to Abel Tasman National Park.
Its destiny could have been quite different. Back in 1841, the New Zealand Company eyed-up the bay for a colonial town, but settled upon Nelson instead. It remained under the radar for the following 75 or so years, until it coming to the attention of local farmer Syd Rowling. The story goes that he could afford either a shiny new Model T Ford or the 136 acres spanning both Kaiteriteri and Honeymoon Bays. Of course cars never hold their value, anyway.
Kaiteriteri's stunning golden beach (Bennett Slater)
Syd toiled in the soil for a good 10 years, before ditching the apple orchards in favour of campground ownership. He started out by leasing out land and tents for informal camping. Demand soon grew, prompting him to set aside 12 acres near the beach as a public domain and in 1936 the Kaiteriteri Domain Board was formed.
This sealed its fate, preserving for the enjoyment of the masses. Now known as the Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve, almost 260 hectares of land is set aside for the public, with the campground still at its core.
Kaiteriteri is one of the three key gateways to Abel Tasman National Park, and for much of the year the bay buzzes with water taxis and fleet of kayakers paddling in and out.
However, there are hordes of holidaymakers who come just to hang out at this stunning beach. Rich golden sand makes it picture perfect, especially when populated with sun-kissed visitors sun-bathing, swimming and zipping across the water on skis or a biscuit. The creek outflow at the southern end with its friendly shallows provides lots of fun for the wee ones.
Syd could never have envisaged todays facilities, which include a playground, mini-golf, caf, boat ramp, takeaways and a well-stocked shop. But these are just some of the ingredients that cook-up Kaiteriteris great holidays, and Im sure hed have been rightly proud.
The modern-day motor camp is a whopper, covering almost 12 acres directly over the road from the beach. At full capacity, 1800 people are spread throughout 437 sites and 17 cabins. Sure, that is pretty busy, but for those of us that revel in the neighbourly vibe of a well-packed campground Kaiteriteris a classic of the kind.
The shallows at the creek outflow, a haven for the wee ones (Bennett Slater)
These good times are the result of good management, for which Rob Guild and his team can take credit. The term continuous improvement springs to mind, Visitors are advised to book ahead during peak times, but the off season is a great time to visit, too.
The crowds have gone and the summer bustle is replaced by peace and relative solitude. There is still heaps to do though: head into the Abel Tasman, on foot, by boat or kayak and you can feel like you have the whole place to yourself.
Those with two wheels should check out the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park www.kaiteriterimtbpark.org.nz, a new facility developed by keen local bikers, Department of Conservation and Recreation Reserve people.
Fifteen kilometres of inter-linking tracks with more planned for the future cater for all grades of riders. Dont fret if you cant bring your bike as you can hire one nearby from Kimi Ora Lodge.
The parks a good place to stretch your legs, too, with magnificent views across the bay. The Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park Incorporated Society was established in 2009 to develop and manage the Park.
So, hats off to Syd and the generations after him who have held on to the dream. Kaiteriteris a national treasure that remains accessible and affordable for all.
Abel Tasman National Park was founded in 1942, largely through the efforts of ornithologist and author Perrine Moncrieff to have land reserved for the purpose. With a coverage of only 225.3 square kilometres, is the smallest of New Zealand's national parks.
The beaches are gazetted as a Scenic Reserve. The Abel Tasman Coast Track is a popular tramping track which follows the coastline; while an inland route, the Abel Tasman Inland Track, is less frequented. Kayaking, camping and sightseeing are other activities carried out in the park.
Walkers are draw to fantastic ferns. Courtesy Latitude Nelson
Classed as one of New Zealand's 'Great Walks', the Abel Tasman's Coastal Track takes between three and five days to complete. It climbs around headlands and through native forest to a series of beautiful beaches. The track is walkable at any time of the year.
The track through Abel Tasman National Park is different in every part.
You will enjoy the fantastic scenery of the New Zealand native rainforest with huge fern trees. As for the Kaiteriteri seal swim it is a great thrill to see them firing through the water in twirls and somersaults.
Take a water taxi from Kaiteriteri or Marahau to one of the beaches, walk along the track, enjoy the golden beaches and be picked by the water taxi on another beach and returned to Kaiteriteri.
Split Apple Rock is on the itinerary for most cruises from Kaiteriteri or Marahau.
But Split Apple Rock is accessible from the beach. Driving along the Sandy Bay-Marahau Rd from Kaiteriteri, turn right into Tokongawa Drive, at the first split (with Lady Barkly) turn right to stay on Tokongawa, stay right on Tokongawa (at Gannet Heights), turn left to stay on Tokongawa (at Venture Cove) and then turn right into Moonraker Way.
Find a parking spot and walk through the vegetation down to a beautifully isolated beach with great views over a sheltered bay towards Split Apple Rock. At low tide it is possible to rock hop and wade over to theimpressive landmark.
Walkers splash along the tideline. Courtesy. Latitude Nelson
Kaiteriteri Boat Charters sails from Kaiteriteri to a number of locations along the Abel Tasman coastline.
Shag Harbour is a wonderfully scenic seal rookery hidden in a cove to the north of Onetahuti beach.
Pupu Springs is New Zealand's biggest freshwater spring with is crystal clear water.
The Takaka Hill road leads to the Ngarua Caves, with their wonderful stalactites and stalagmites. Harwoods Hole off the Canaan Road, is a vertical shaft 183 metres deep, and the surrounding area is full of startling limestone formations and granite outcrops.
Things to do in the Tasman region:
Paddle into the park in a sea kayak.
Walk the scenic bush tracks.
Swim, Surf, Dive.
Try you luck fishing.
Enjoy the local seafood and produce.
Wilsons Abel Tasman sightseeing tours.
Skydive Abel Tasman.
The Sea Kayak Company.
Tasman Sky Adventures - microlight flights.
Sea Limousines www.sealimousines.com Kaiteriteri seal swim.
Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park.
Arts and Crafts.
Nelson attractions and things to see and do include:
World of Wearable Arts and Classic Cars Museum.
Bead Gallery - World Class selection of beads and components.
Craft Habitat Art Centre.
Founders Historic Park.
Hoglund Art Glass.
Natureland Zoological Park.
The Suter Art Gallery.
Vertical Limits - Indoor Climbing Center.
Happy Valley Adventures.
Motueka Wine Tours.
Reach for mile high sky adventures
Tasman Sky Adventures at Motueka Airport is the only company in New Zealand which offers hang gliding from a mile high.
They use the latest tandem aero-towing techniques with the tandem hang-glider towed into the air by a specially designed tow-plane called a 'tug'.
Unlike hill launching, aero-towing allows their professional pilots to take passengers as high as they want.Their pilots are certified by the New Zealand Hang Gliding and Paragliding association.
The tandem gliders have heavy-duty landing gear and quality cocoon harnesses to ensure safety and comfort. Tasman Sky Adventures specialise in tandem hang gliding, and scenic microlight flights.
Editors Note: GoSee thanks Fergus Brown CEO of Holiday Accommodation Parks Association of New Zealand (HAPNZ) for providing the basis of this free Information Article for the benefit of GoSeers.
Walkers stop for a bridge view. Courtesy Latitude Nelson
The motor camp is bordered by mature trees on two sides (Bennett Slater)
Ready for a kayak experience. Abel Tasman trio. Courtesy Latitude Nelson
A nikau stops walkers in their tracks. Courtesy Latitude Nelson