With stunning beaches, enchanting forests and hiking and adventure options for all fitness levels, there’s nothing to not like about Abel Tasman.
This National Park is the smallest of all the National Parks in New Zealand; however, it is home to one of the country’s Great Walks.
Add in plenty of kayaking, fishing and horse trekking options, and you can plan yourself an exciting trip full of activities!
Or, if action and adventure is not your thing, there are those stunning beaches I mentioned too.
And it’s all located in one of the most sunny areas of New Zealand!
From Nelson it takes about 1 hour by car to reach Marahau, at the south of the park.
If I haven’t convinced you already, here are some reasons that I think you will love Abel Tasman National Park.
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track
This Great Walk is the most popular hiking trail in New Zealand and is 60 kilometres/37 miles long.
The entire length of the track can be walked in 3-5 days and there are plenty of huts and campsites along the way.
The route is one way from Marahau to Wainui car park, or vice versa, so make sure you’ve planned your journeys in and out of the park accordingly.
Note that if you finish up at Wainui car park, you will either need to be picked up or to hike back to Totaranui to catch the water taxi.
Marahau is a small village at the south of the National Park and may be a nicer place to end up after days of hiking.
These are the tramping times provided by the Department of Conservation, starting at Marahau:
- Marahau to Anchorage Hut – 4hrs / 12.4km
- Anchorage Hut to Bark Bay Hut (high tide track) – 4hrs / 11.5km
- Anchorage Hut to Bark Bay Hut (low tide track) – 3hrs / 8.4km
- Bark Bay Hut to Onetahuti Bay (high tide track) – 2hrs / 6.4km
- Bark Bay Hut to Onetahuti Bay (low tide track) – 1hr45 / 4.6km
- Onetahuti Bay to Awaroa Hut – 2hr30 / 7.1km
- Awaroa Hut to Totaranui – 2hr20 / 7.1km
- Totaranui to Whariwharangi Hut – 3hr15 / 9.8km
- Whariwharangi Hut to Wainui car park – 2hrs / 5.7km
Huts and campsites must be booked in advance through the DOC website.
If you don’t fancy doing a multiple day hike, there are many options for day hikes on this track too.
Water taxis run from Marahau to many of the bays in the park, giving you multiple options.
I visited Abel Tasman twice and did two short walks along the track.
On my first visit I started at Totaranui and walked north to Anapai Bay and back; the second time I started at Marahau and walked to Coquille Bay and back.
Both times were a fantastic experience full of beauty and wonder. I wish I could have done more!
There are 4 huts and 18 campsites along the coast of Abel Tasman and the water taxis stop near to 7 of them!
So even if you don’t feel like hiking, you can still stay at one of the beautiful coastal locations.
I spent one night at Totaranui campsite in the north of the park and it was absolutely gorgeous!
It’s a large DOC campsite right by the beach with pukeko, weka, tui, fantails and many, many other birds around.
I woke up early and took a coffee and a camping chair down onto the beach to watch the sunrise. It was the perfect start to the day!
This is one of the campsites that you can drive to if you head north to Takaka and then cross through the park.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s best to book the huts and campsites early to make sure you get a spot.
Kayaking & horse trekking
Take to the water with one of the many different kayak tours available.
There are multi-day options, kayak and hike options and seal sanctuary tours.
So whether you’d prefer hours or days out on the water, or if you want to do some hiking as well, check out one of the kayak tour companies in the area.
If riding a horse along the beach is your idea of heaven, check out one of the horse trekking options that run out of Marahau.
They’ll take you along the coast for a couple of hours so that you can see the beauty of the area from horseback.
Motueka is a good place to stop on your way to Abel Tasman. It’s the last big(ish) town before the park and you can book all your outdoor activities there.
Have I convinced you now?
I’ll never forget the golden sand of the beaches, the sound of the birdsong or the wind rustling through the trees.
Everywhere you look you’ll see a scene that looks like it’s straight out of a postcard.
Abel Tasman National Park is just one of those beautiful gems that will stay in your heart forever.
Have you been to Abel Tasman? Would you hike the whole of the Great Walk? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- Whispering Falls: Nelson’s stunning day hike
- 10 interesting things to do around Nelson
- Your guide to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
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