The Abel Tasman Coast Track
- Walks & Hikes
The Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand’s smallest but most popular national park, and the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is renowned as one of the country’s Great Walks. Glorious golden beaches, lush native bush and crystal-clear waterways wrap around the stunning granite coastline, whilst secluded coves, islands, inlets and hidden beaches are peppered throughout the park.
The Abel Tasman National Park is truly spectacular at all times of the year. Whilst it may draw the crowds in summer, the seasons of autumn and spring offer cool, crisp mornings that give way to clear, blue sky days perfect for walking, kayaking and canyoning. Meanwhile, the winter months are characterised by calm seas, picturesque sunsets and surprisingly quiet beaches, perfect for relaxing and reconnecting with nature as you indulge in the scenery of the coastal track.
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track starts in the seaside village of Marahau, following the length of the coastline all the way to Wainui Bay in the north. The section of the track between Tōtaranui and Wainui Bay is the quietest due to a lack of water transport services further north, with many opting to finish (or start) their journey in Tōtaranui.
Starting from Marahau, you’ll traverse under the canopy of lush beech and kānuka forest to Anchorage, where the first Department of Conservation hut is based. From here, it’s a short stroll up a scenic lookout over to the spectacular golden sands of Te Puketea Bay. Sheltered by the headlands, this crescent shaped beach is slightly off the beaten track, making it a tranquil oasis for those lucky enough to discover it.
Connecting back to Anchorage, the track continues around to Torrent Bay, with a high tide route around a gorgeous tidal lagoon, or a low tide route that crosses the estuary. The Anchorage to Bark Bay section is truly mesmerising, with the crystal-clear Cleopatra’s Pools, a natural moss waterslide, and a 47-metre suspension bridge over the Falls River just some of the attractions along the way.
After departing Bark Bay, the track returns to the coast at Tonga Quarry and onto one of the longest (and most beautiful) beaches in the Abel Tasman. Onetahuti Beach wraps around the granite coast as far as the eye can see, and a beachfront campsite invites visitors to stay and enjoy its beauty for a while.
Further north is Awaroa Beach, which is often referred to as the ‘peoples beach’. After it was purchased in an ambitious crowdfunding campaign, the beach was gifted back to New Zealand for future generations to enjoy, and many visitors to the park enjoy relaxing in their little slice of paradise. The Awaroa Inlet can only be crossed two hours either side of low tide, giving walkers the perfect excuse to take a stroll along the beach, have lunch at the lodge, or simply relax in the sunshine.
The track between Awaroa Beach and Tōtaranui continues through some of the most dense and varied bush in the Abel Tasman National Park, with rows of regenerating kanuka fringing the coastline. The steady descent to Tōtaranui is particularly beautiful, as golden sands framed by lush green headlands are gradually revealed.
The section of the Abel Tasman Coast Track north of Tōtaranui remains relatively undiscovered, but that’s what makes it so special. The Gibbs Hill loop takes in the towering rock stacks of Anapai Bay, the historic lighthouse at Separation Point and the old farmstead in Whariwharangi Bay.
Unlike many other Great Walks, the Abel Tasman National Park can be experienced at your own pace. Whether you have half a day, a full day or a few days to explore, there are plenty of options to shape your own unique itinerary based on the diversity of scenery, transport options and accommodation along the track. From a kayak, walk and cruise combo to scenic flights, waka journeys or eco tours, you’re completely spoilt for choice.
Photo credits: (1-4) www.nelsontasman.nz, (5-6) Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi, (7) Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle, (8) Epic Trails, (9) Abel Tasman Lodge, (10) Barna Barn.