Tips Time Factor

Don't forget, if you're being picked up from Nelson for any of these park excursions, you'll have to allow 1V2 hours each way on a bus. You'll leave Nelson at 7:15, 8:30am, or 3:40pm returning 1:55, 5:15, 6, or 7:15pm. There is only one bus in winter (from the end of Apr-Oct), leaving Nelson at 8:30am, returning at 6pm.

points of interest along the park beaches and the fur seal colony on Tonga Island. The price ranges from NZ$40 to $65 (US$22-$36). If you're short on time, do the cruise if nothing else, or you'll miss seeing this spectacular unspoiled coast.

For a terrific guided walk, look no further than Kahurangi Guided Walks , Dodson Rd., Takaka, Golden Bay (® 03/525-7177; www.kahurangiwalks. co.nz). They offer 1-, 3-, or 5-day walking trips in the Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National Parks. There are excellent half-day trips for those on a tight schedule, starting from NZ$25 (US$14) per person.

WHERE TO STAY

Kaiteriteri Beach has a wealth of accommodations, but you'll have to book months in advance. At Marahau Beach, backpackers and campers should check out The Barn, Harvey Road, Marahau (® 03/527-8043; fax 03/527-8440), the closest lodgings to the park, with a shared dorm, double/twin rooms, and motor-home or tent sites from NZ$10 to $40 (US$5.50-$22). Marahau Beach Camp, Franklin Street, Marahau (® and fax 03/527-8176; www. abeltasmanmarahaucamp.co.nz), also has backpacker and camping facilities. More upmarket are the eight rooms at Abel Tasman Ocean View Chalets tfp, Beach Rd., Marahau, RD2, Motueka (® 03/527-8232; www.Accommodation AbelTasman.co.nz), with rates of NZ$194 (US$107) for four people in their 1- and 2-bedroom chalets.

My pick for this area is Abel Tasman Marahau Lodge f$f$, Marahau Beach, RD2, Motueka (® 03/527-8250; www.AbelTasmanMarahauLodge.co.nz), which has twelve smart studio units with en-suite bathrooms for NZ$130 to $175 (US$72-$96). There are four new units, and two of those are self-contained. It's not the Hilton, but you do get great service, a magical setting, and incredible silence.

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