A night aboard the Aquapackers backpackers in Abel Tasman

On a recent trip to Nelson, I decided to head up to the Abel Tasman National Park for a few days. Having been before I knew what a gorgeous part of the world it is and was keen to spend as much of my limited time as possible in the National Park itself.

I decided to head into Anchorage and spend a night aboard the Aquapackers – a floating backpackers – the only thing of it’s kind in the South Island.

I got the lunchtime water taxi from Marahau into Anchorage. You can only board the aquapackers from 4pm in the afternoon so I decided to spend the day on the beach enjoying the sun and scenery. Anchorage beach is stunning with its perfect golden sand and blue waters so it wasn’t a bad way at all to spend an afternoon.

Jumping from the roof of the boat

At 4pm the Aquapackers dingy came to the beach to pick us all up. Once onboard we all settled into ours rooms and dorms and then headed on deck for a swim. Some of the crazier of the group decided to jump off the roof of the boat but I wasn’t that brave so opted to be photographer for everyone instead!

Once everyone had finished swimming we all headed inside to take a shower and get ready for dinner.

Included in your stay on the Aquapackers is a BBQ dinner, Continental Breakfast in the morning and also all of your bedding too. This means you don’t have to lug your sleeping bag and pillow in with you which was great.

The BBQ dinner was delicious – beef steak, lamb sausages, coleslaw, rice salad and a spicey vegetarian bake. Lots of people had worked up an appetite walking orr swimming during the day so there were hardly any leftovers and a very quiet BBQ deck whilst we all tucked into our food. The menu stays the same every day apparently so something to remember if you plan on staying for several nights on the boat. Most people only stay on the boat for one or two nights so this wouldn’t be an issue.

The BBQ dinner

After dinner people scattered to various parts of the boat to watch the sunset, talk to the other backpackers, have an evening drink or read a book. The boat does not sell alcohol but you can bring your own on board. It is not a party boat though. As part of their licence to operate in the Abel Tasman they must agree to keep the noise levels down at night. So if you’re looking for a disco or an all night rave this isn’t the place for you – neither is the Abel Tasman come to think of it either.

The dorms were comfy although basic. The linen was supplied and was clean and the pillows comfortable. The two dorms which each sleep 7 are in the boat of the boat, one on each arm of the catamaran. So if you are planning on staying in the dorm, then be aware that you have to climb down a ladder to get to it. This shouldn’t be a problem for most people though. There are also three rooms on board on the two upper decks – two double rooms, and one room with two bunks in sleeping 4. There are obviously more expensive than the dorm beds and do sell out a lot faster so it pays to book in advance. We managed to book the night before we went but this is also apparently a rare thing to be able to do (and we only managed it because it was the beginning of the low season) so bear that in mind when planning your trip and book as far in advance as you can. The Aquapackers is only open from late September until April (Spring/Summer in NZ) so something to also think about when planning your trip.

View from the boat

Overall I really enjoyed the stay on the Aquapackers. The crew were lovely and really friendly and the other travellers I met onboard were great too. It’s definitely a great and unique experience in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.

One of the double rooms on the boat

Everyone having dinner on the BBQ/Bar deck

View from the boat looking at Anchorage Beach

Sunset on the boat

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