The Ultimate Guide to Hiking the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Quick Facts

Your next adventure: Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Where in the world?: Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

Activity: Tramping, Hiking

Difficulty: The Abel Tasman is probably the easiest of the Great Walks in New Zealand. For the most part the track is well formed and easy to walk on. Moderate fitness required.

Wrap up: The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is a beautiful multi-day walk offering stunning coastlines and generously mild weather.

A bit about the Abel Tasman Coastal Track…

Situated in the Abel Tasman National Park at the top of the South Island, the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is a beautiful multi-day walk offering stunning coastlines of white sand and clear waters, and curiously sculptured granite cliffs.

As one of, if not the most popular walks within New Zealand you can expect to have a lot of company on this track, especially over the summer months.

The Abel Tasman is probably the easiest of the Great Walks in New Zealand. For the most part the track is well formed and easy to walk on. It is recommended that you do have a moderate level of fitness though. General day walks up to an hour or two, for a few days a week, two weeks prior to departure is about all you will need to do to prepare.

The majority will walk this track in 3-4 days starting at Marahau and finishing at Totaranui, where a water taxi will return you to Marahau. While most trampers will do this over 3-4 days, you can extend this out to 6 if you wish to by heading through to Wainui.

If you wanted to mix up the walking a bit, kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park is hugely popular. You can walk the track, kayak the length of it, or do what is becoming more popular - walk in and kayak back. There are many kayak companies in the area so finding one that will suit your needs is easy.

The water is a god send after a long day's hike and many of the bays offer plenty of private swimming areas, so you can relax and calm those tired muscles. Make sure you take your swimwear!

Water taxi's are available for picking up weary trampers at many points along the way, so if the going gets too much then you can always use these to take you back to Marahau. Their pick up points are; Anchorage, Torrent Bay, Bark Bay, Onetahuti, Awaroa and Totaranui.

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The track is well serviced by public transport including buses and coaches along with the water taxis. Vehicle parking is also provided by the Department of Conservation at Marahau, Totaranui, Wainui and Awaroa, though cars left here are done so at their own risk as these are not secure parking areas.

Don't miss…

The Cleopatra pools! Hidden away during the first days tramp, though not far from the first nights hut, they are a special place to visit. Awesome natural waterslides into refreshing pools, make this a great spot to unwind in.

Also if you have a spare day up your sleeve, hire a kayak and do a day trip out to the seal colony and experience these playful creatures in their natural environment.

When to go and what to expect…

Situated at the top of the South Island, the area that the Abel Tasman track is situated in is more often than not sunny and warm during the summer, and slightly cooler during winter. The area has one of, if not the highest amount of sunshine hours throughout the year.

Being a coastal track however, you can still get some cold weather off the sea, so it is advisable to take warm gear even though it may be sunny! A windfleece or softshell would be suitable.

Really great times to do the walk are the shoulder seasons just before and just after the summer months.

Other handy things to note…

  • Sand flies will eat you alive! During the summer months, most of the New Zealand Great Walks have this flying menace present. A good insect repellant is advised, as well as mosquito treated clothes if possible.
  • There is rubbish collection at the huts, but it is advisable to carry out what you carry in – it's good practice!
  • There is a floating bar at Anchorage, so taking in a few dollars will let you have a beer at the end of day one.
  • Don't forget ear plugs! You are likely to share huts with quite a few people and there is always someone who snores. Its always worthwhile having a good night's sleep.
  • The Abel Tasman is accessible by road at three popular points; each of which has a carpark.
  1. Marahau, the southern gateway, is 67km from Nelson on a sealed road. This is the most popular starting point.
  2. Wainui, is 21km from Takaka, mostly on a sealed road.
  3. Totatranui, is 32km from Takaka, the last 13km is by unsealed road.

Thanks to…

Sam Hicks for writing this article for us! Sam Hicks has been a part of the MD Community for many years. He is a qualified Snowboard and Climbing Instructor and has spent many years in the outdoors since being dragged around various tramping trips as a child! He continues to be active in the competition climbing scene, as one of New Zealand's top competition route setters, and will always be found on the slopes during winter!

For up to date information on the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk, please visit NZ's Department of Conservation website.

Still hungry for more adventure?

Check out the other Places You'd Rather Be destination guides for more adventure inspiration.

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