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51kms - 3 to 5 days
From beach to beach
This idyllic track links a myriad of crescent-shaped coves of glittering golden sand, washed by the crystal-clear waters of Tasman Bay. You’ll wander along beaches that constantly invite you in for a swim; hike through scented forest and around headlands with commanding views of the coast; and feel the delicious squelch of mud between your toes as you wade across tidal flats.
Although you could complete this 51 kilometre walk in three days, a couple of extra days will let you relax and enjoy life as a nomad. The temperature is never extreme - an average of 25°C in summer and 15°C in winter. The region enjoys some of the best weather in New Zealand, with about 2500 hours of sunshine each year.
There are several Department of Conservation accommodation huts, and three privately operated Lodges on the coastal track, however many walkers choose to camp. Some of the tent sites promise beachfront views, so you can wake up to a spectacular sunrise and the sound of waves lapping at your doorstep. The campsite at Onetahuti Beach is one of the best; with the added attractions of glow worm caves and a fresh water pool.
Rock star scenery
Between the beautiful beaches, rock formations make the park fabulously photogenic. Weathering and wave action has sculpted granite into islands, reefs, rock stacks, wave-cut platforms, rounded boulders and headlands. One of the area’s most famous rock stars is Split Apple Rock near Marahau - a giant granite boulder that is cleaved in two. The ultimate photo involves getting someone to climb into the space between the halves.
It’s a wild, wild life
If you’re walking the track during summer or autumn, be sure to bring your snorkel and mask. You’ll be able to see how marine plants and animals change as the water gets deeper. Around the granite outcrops the sea is exceptionally clear.
Fur seals are found along the coast of the park, particularly on granite headlands at Separation Point and near Tonga Island. From Mutton Cove you can walk to Separation Point to see the fur seal colony. Fur seals are natural show-offs - sometimes seeming to consciously pose for you - but don’t get too close, these are definitely wild animals!
Other sea-dwelling creatures can often be seen from the beaches. Little blue penguins feed at sea during the day and return to burrows on the park’s islands at night. Common dolphins are often seen playing in the waves or escorting water taxis along the coast.
When you’re hiking forested sections of the track, bellbirds, fantails, kereru (wood pigeons) and tui will keep you company. Tui and bellbirds provide a beautiful soundtrack, wood pigeons crash around the branches gorging themselves on berries and fantails flit around the path, catching tiny insects that are disturbed by the passing walkers.
There are times when you have to remove your shoes and join the wading birds. Crossing shallow estuaries and mudflats is part of this fabulously back-to-nature adventure.
The track by ocean
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track can also be conquered by sea kayak. You can hire kayaks and guide yourself around the coast, staying at beach campsites; or make it more social and join a guided kayak expedition. Kayakers often have close encounters with fur seals, dolphins and penguins. It’s even possible you’ll see whales!
Create a circuit
For the ultimate walk in Abel Tasman National Park, join the coastal walk to the Inland Track. This challenging walking route passes through regenerating and original native forest. The park’s hilly interior guarantees blockbuster views up and down the coast.
Booking a walk with a tour provider
There are a number of specialist tour operators who can aid you in bringing your walking experience to life. Whether you are looking for a guided tour or accommodation along the track browse through our business listings to find the walking experience that is right for you.
Booking a walk independently
If you want to walk a Great Walk independently you will need a Great Walks Pass The fees for this varies between each Great Walk, but all prices are very reasonable as they are heavily subsidised in order to foster participation by many people.
For some Great Walks you may need to make a booking, for others simply purchase a Great Walks hut or campsite pass before your trip
- For the Milford, Kepler, Routeburn, Heaphy and Abel Tasman the online system allows you to check availability and pay for your booking. Book online
- Department of Conservation (DOC) Visitor Centres national wide can make hut or campsite bookings on your behalf. A booking fee applies.
- Call on +64-3-249 8514, fax +64-3-249 8515, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Information from DOC including features, track description and places to stay: Abel Tasman Coast Track
- Information from DOC about the 9 Great Walks
- Read about safety tips for walking and hiking in New Zealand's great outdoors