Top tip; For the ultimate walk in Abel Tasman National Park, join Abel tasman Coastal Track to the Inland Track(opens in new window). This challenging walking route passes through regenerating and original native forest and you are treated to amazing views up and down the coast.
2. Walking the Abel Tasman Coast Track
The fitter you are the more you will enjoy yourself, so a good level of fitness and strength is necessary.
Find out more about the walk and what is involved;
Day 1, Marahau > Anchorage, 12.4km
After the Mārahau information kiosk, follow the causeway that crosses the estuary. From here, you'll pass through open country to Tinline Bay.
The track then rounds Guilbert Point to Apple Tree Bay before passing through beech forest with large kanuka trees.
After Yellow Point the track heads inland, winding through small gullies before emerging into Torrent Bay, overlooking the coast and islands to the north. Descend into the bay where the Anchorage Hut and Campsite(opens in new window) awaits.
Cross Bark Bay Estuary two hours either side of low-tide or follow the all-tide track (10 minutes) around its edge where you'll climb steeply to a saddle.
Here, walkers journey through a mānuka forest; losing all sense of the coast before returning to the shore at Tonga Quarry. Here, just offshore sits Tonga Island, surrounded by a marine reserve and fascinating underwater life and snorkelling here is highly recommended.
A short distance on, you'll come to Onetahuti Bay, where an all-tide bridge and boardwalk crosses an inlet. From here, the track climbs up and over Tonga Saddle before descending to Awaroa Inlet. Awaroa Hut(opens in new window) is only a few minutes along the shore.
Awaroa Estuary can only be crossed a couple of hours either side of low tide.
Once crossed, the track crosses a low saddle and drops into Waiharakeke Bay, where an old timber mill used to be located.
From here, you'll wind through more forest and beaches as well as up and over a lookout with spectacular views. When you’re hiking forested sections of the track, bellbirds, fantails, kererū (wood pigeons) and tūī will keep you company.
Take your time hiking to the end of the track today.
You'll pass through more beautiful inlets and small saddles before walking by the coast and coming to the carpark.
Here, meet your transport back to Marahau. From Wainui there are public transport options to Takaka (November through to May).
For water taxi pickup walkers need to return to Totaranui via Gibbs Hill (three hours).
3. Accommodation on Abel Tasman Coast Track
You have the choice of staying overnight at DOC huts and campsites or in private, lodge-style accommodation with a tour provider.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) provides four huts and a number of campsites dotted along the Abel Tasman Track. Some of the tent sites provide 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.
Reservations are required for all huts and campsites especially during the Great Walks season from October through to April.
During the trekking season the huts have bunks, mattresses, heating, toilets, basic gas cooking facilities, solar-powered lighting and cold running water. A DOC ranger is present. The huts do not provide food, cooking utensils or showers. Campers need to carry their own gas cookers.
During the off-peak season DOC hut tickets or annual hut passes are required and the huts do not have a ranger on site and have limited facilities.
Nelson is the main gateway to the Abel Tasman with daily flights arriving into Nelson Airport.
The beautiful beach town of Kaiteriteri is home to a number of accommodation options including a holiday park with ocean views and is only a short drive to the Abel Tasman Coastal Track trail head.
Motueka is a petite but lively town with great farmers markets and arts and crafts. Motueka is just 25 minutes drive to the village of Mārahau.
Mārahau is the Southern gateway to the Able Tasman National Park and an entrance to begin the Great Walk. Yes, Mārahau is small but it's a bustling village and a great place for kayaking, swimming and other water sports with local gear hire and tours available.
Where ever you chose to stay in the Abel Tasman area it's worth staying a few days before and after your trek.
5. Getting to Abel Tasman Coast Track trail head
Getting to the start of the Abel Tasman Coast Track is accessible at the four main entrances.
Mārahau is the southern gateway. It's 67 km from Nelson on sealed road providing access by water taxi, kayak, or walking
Wainui is the northern entrance. It's 128 km from Nelson and 21 km from Takaka. For the last 2 km, the road is unsealed providing access by walking
Totaranui is 160 km from Nelson and 32 km from Takaka providing access by walking and water taxi. The last 12 km of the road is unsealed but suitable for campervans
Kaiteriteri is 61 km from Nelson providing access by kayak or water taxi. Note: This is 7 km from the track entrance by walking and it is not advisable to walk this.
It is also possible to access Awaroa estuary on a road that is 31 km from Takaka. The last 12 km of road is rough, unsealed and prone to flooding. It is not recommended as an entrance to the park.
Most visitors only walk in one direction on the Coast Track and get a water taxi in the other direction.
There are commercial water taxis that operate between Marahau/Kaiteriteri and Totaranui. Water taxis are not permitted to go above Totaranui, so there is no service to Wainui or any of the Northern bays. Visitors travelling beyond Totaranui use the Gibbs Hill Track to make a loop in the Northern end of the Park.
Water taxis operate year round and must be booked in advance. The scheduled water taxi pickup locations are Apple Tree Bay, Anchorage, Medlands Bay, Bark Bay, Tonga Quarry, Onetahuti, Awaroa and Totaranui.
Many of the water taxi and kayak companies have shuttle buses for their clients.
DOC provides a carpark at Marahau, Totaranui and Wainui roadends. Cars are parked at your own risk.
There is strictly no freedom camping.
6. Book a guided tour of Abel Tasman Coast Track
A number of specialist tour operators can aid in bringing your walking experience to life. Some offer a combination of walking and kayaking.
If you want to do a Great Walk independently, you will need to book the DOC accommodation on the trails. The fee for this varies between each Great Walk. It is recommended that you book in advance for this popular walk.