One of New Zealand’s most popular great walks is the 53km Abel Tasman Coast Track, which starts from the idyllic seaside village of Marahau, taking you on a journey through lush native forest, along golden sandy beaches and across wooden suspension bridges. Your senses will be awakened to the sweet sound of birdsong ringing through the treetops, the result of ongoing restoration efforts undertaken by the local business community and iwi. Truly extraordinary all year round, the walk is best experienced on a multi-day adventure that will see you staying overnight at one of the beachfront lodges, camp sites, DOC huts or even the floating backpackers, before continuing on with your scenic walk the following day. For those who are looking for a slice of paradise, but don’t quite have time for a multi-day experience, there are plenty of half and full day walk/kayak or walk/cruise options available.
Photo: Tourism New Zealand
2. Go horseriding along the beach
Having one of the largest tidal ranges in New Zealand means that at low tide, Marahau has plenty of beach to explore… and what better way to explore it than on horseback? With the sound of hooves patting against the golden sands and the feeling of the calm sea breeze caressing your face, there is nothing more relaxing than a gentle trek into the horizon, along the braided beach and through the waving tussocks. If this isn’t already on your bucket list, it should be!
Photo: Abel Tasman Horse Trekking
3. Have a kayaking adventure
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park, with plenty of guided, unguided, single day and multi-day options on offer. Known by locals as ‘the launching pad’ for the national park, your journey from Marahau will take you through turquoise blue waters past granite coastline, golden sandy beaches and lush native forest. By kayak you can boldly go where no boat or walking track can take you, to explore the hidden coves nestled into the sweeping coastline, and savour the panoramic vistas that surround you (and if you’re lucky, you might even spot some seals or dolphins)!
Photo: Marahau Sea Kayaks
4. Leave your comfort zone and go canyoning
Just a short way from the idyllic seaside village of Marahau, nestled in the heart of the Abel Tasman National Park is a pristine paradise - one that is seen by few, but loved by many. An adventure with Abel Tasman Canyons will have you testing the limits of your comfort zone as you abseil down gorgeous granite canyons, zip through unspoiled rainforest and slide into some of the purest water and natural rockpools one can find. The friendly guides will show you a few hours of uninhibited fun in this extraordinary place, and you’ll be guaranteed to leave with a massive smile on your face and a whole new appreciation for the stunning natural landscapes that surround us here in Nelson Tasman.
Photo: Abel Tasman Canyons
5. Learn about the unique history of this place
The Abel Tasman National Park, Marahau & Kaiteriteri behold a surprisingly diverse and unique history, and there’s no better way to learn about it than with Abel Tasman Eco Tours. As you embark on a whistlestop tour of Tasman Bay’s most renowned treasures, you’ll be treated to intriguing stories about the ecology of the park, fun facts about its history, and an array of opportunities to stop and photograph the iconic landmarks that the area is known for. From caves to mountains, rivers to beaches, wildlife to sealife, and history to culture, we guarantee you’ll walk away with a newfound appreciation for the national park and the generations that lived here before us.
Photo: Abel Tasman Canyons
6. Dine at the picturesque waterfront
Serving up a delicious selection of local fare, craft beer, and wine, the Hooked Café, Restaurant & Beer Garden is the perfect place to sit back, relax, and share stories about your day’s adventures. The beachy vibe of the village couldn’t be more apparent, with the interior adorned in an extraordinary collection of seashells, driftwood and crayfish pots, whilst outside in the beer garden, guests are treated to stunning views of the glistening waters at high tide and the undulating sand flats at low tide. You’ll be left in awe of the picturesque surroundings, especially as the sun retreats into the horizon over Tasman Bay, and in late autumn, we recommend watching from indoors, cosying up by the log fire with a hot coffee or mulled wine.
7. Try world famous burgers
It’s hard to believe that something so extraordinary can be produced in a roadside caravan, but The Fat Tui really do serve up some of the best gourmet burgers we’ve ever tasted! People travel from near and far to sink their teeth into them (and the rest of their face… because lets be honest, you can’t eat burgers this big and not make a mess). The friendly, laid-back atmosphere at The Fat Tui pays ode to Marahau’s village charm, and it’s not unusual to see people in their swimming gear tucking into a burger at a picnic table, or on the golden sandy beach.
8. Stay in a private studio chalet
Experience New Zealand’s famed natural beauty in abundance from the private deck of your very own studio chalet. Set amongst stunning native grounds, Marahau’s Abel Tasman Lodge offers the true meaning of peace and tranquillity. Guests are known to return from their days adventures to bathe in the hot tub, listening to nothing but the sweet sound of birdsong ringing through the treetops, and thinking of nothing but the unspoilt landscape that surrounds them... a truly mesmerising experience.
Photo: Abel Tasman Lodge
9. Venture deeper into the Abel Tasman
However you choose to explore – by foot, by boat, by kayak, by catamaran or by helicopter, we guarantee you’ll have an unforgettable experience in the country’s most popular national park. With crescent shaped coves, golden sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, a sweeping granite coastline and an array of fascinating wildlife, you’ll never be short of something new to discover in the Abel Tasman National Park. Whether you opt for a single or multi-day adventure, the park is well serviced and has accommodation options aplenty, so you can experience its unparalleled beauty at your own pace.
Photo: Tamzin Henderson
10. Build permanent memories with a tattoo
There’s no doubt that your experience in the Abel Tasman National Park will stay with you for a lifetime, but here in Marahau, you can also take home something a little more permanent. Based in a Shepard’s Wagon in this seaside village, you’ll find a machine free studio offering hand-poked tattoos, tarot readings and henna designs. Inspired by the story and natural designs of this island nation, Nishka’s unique tattoo and henna experiences are set amongst nature, so you can gaze upon the sea and listen to the extraordinary native birdlife that surrounds you.