The Great Walk, Abel Tasman coast walk is unmissable. The beauty of the walk is found elsewhere within and outside the park’s boundaries. Here is inspiration for the family to lace up the walking boots and get going.
1. Te Waikoropupū Springs
Te Waikoropupū Springs contain some of the clearest water ever measured, coming second only to Lake Rotomairewhenua (Blue Lake) in the Nelson Lakes National Park. Located near Takaka take the time to discover the Maori legends and become memorised by the enormous water flows.
Check Nelson travel guide for details
2. Farewell Spit
Farewell Spit is the location for a number of walks ranging from half day tramps to 30 minute exploration. For a taste of the area Wharariki Beach (Archway Islands) is a good option for families. The spectacular coastline with cavens, island and sand dunes can be an all day exploration of a wild coast. At low tide walk along Wharariki Beach returning to the car park via Green Hill Track
- Length 1 km
- Duration 20 minutes one way
3. Medlands Beach
Medlands Beach water taxi drop, then a short 10 minute walk to Bark Bay with its camp site, picnic tables and toilets. Relax in the forest canopy surrounding the camping grounds. Well signposted trail leads to a forest track taking you to Bark Bay falls. You walk over a forested saddle and around the Bark Bay waterfall trail, crossing the new swing bridge beside Bark Bay Falls. Return to Medland beach for water taxi pickup.
- Length 4 km
- Duration All day
4. Rawhiti Caves
Rawhiti Cave Track. The cave system is moss and twilight zone flora appreciating the damp conditions. The stalactites and stalagmites in Rawhiti Cave are curved outwards, a natural phenomenon referred to as “phytokarst”. As plants grow on the interior of the cave, deposits of calcium carbonate on the plants draw the stalactites and stalagmites toward the sunlight, causing them to curve. There is an information panel explaining the geology of the caves.
Getting there: 15 minute drive from Takaka.
It is free to visit the cave. The walk begins at a dry river crossing near the signpost for the caves (don’t try to cross if the river is not dry). The track itself can be slippery after rainfall, so take care if it’s wet.
- No toilets nearby
- Sections of the walk are steep and uneven ground
- Duration 1 hour
- Grade moderate
5. Wainui Falls
Wainui Falls Trail: This is an easy walk meandering through the forests to the base of a beautiful waterfall known as Wainui Falls. There is an elevation gain of 107 m). This is one of the highlights of the park as it is the tallest waterfall in the park.
- Length 3.21km
- Duration 1 hour
6. Pitt Head Lookout Trail
Pitt Head Loop – Nelson-Tasman, New Zealand. This is a short walk up to a lookout at 51.8 m and offers views of the ocean and coastline. It is a striking view and one of the most popular trails. This is one of the most popular day trips using water taxis. An easy walk around the Pitt Head Loop Track via the most beautiful beach in the Park: Te Pukatea or just chill out on the beach.
- Length 3.2 km
- Duration 1 hour
- Grade easy
7. Marahau River estuary to Tinline Bay
As the estuary is tidal it is a favourite spot for wading birds. It is an easy walk to Tinline Bay. Tinline has a camping ground, toilets and rolling lawn to golden sands. If you feel energetic there is a well marked nature walk at Tinline. Water taxis will collect you from either the start or end of the walk.
- Length 2 km
- Duration 40 minutes
- Tinline Bay extension 20 minute nature walk
8. Totaranui Beach
Totaranui Beach is 35 km east of Takaka with gravel road access or the option of water taxi. Pukatea walk is a short nature stroll through kānuka/gorse shrubland typical of local abandoned farmland. Next follows a curving boardwalk through a raupō swamp, then a dry ridge forest of beech trees, and on into magnificent pukatea forest with glades of tall nīkau palms and the occasional massive rātā trees and tall black mamaku treeferns. The walk ends on a promise for the future – under tall kānuka forest are dense thickets of pukatea, rimu and kahikatea, pointing to the time some decades ahead when traces of last century’s destruction will slowly fade from the landscape.
- Length 0.8 km
- Duration 30 minutes (return)
NOTE: There are a number of walks commencing from Totaranui beach, check here Tōtaranui walks for details.
9. Harwoods hole
Harwoods hole Harwoods Track and gorge creek lookout tomo is a dramatic 170m plus vertical cave shaft. There are no barriers and cavers regularly use the vertical drop for training. The sheer cliffs give a perspective on the depth of the caving system.
- Length 2. 9 km one way return via same track
- Duration 45 minutes (one way)
- Dogs Not allowed
Check important safety information on DOC online resources.
Take a water taxi to Awaroa campsite where panoramic views of the largest inlet on the coast hold relics of Maori and European settlement. Then walk over a forested saddle to Onetahuti where a unique boardwalk and bridge, designed by local Maori iwi leads onto the golden sands of the beach. Awaroa Escape – Abel Tasman Coastal Walk & Water Taxi for booking details. There is the Awaroa Lodge which is a quiet isolated area for those visitors who visit for several days immersed in the region.
Check Abel Tasman travel guide and Nelson regional guide for ideas. And want some more inspiration about fascinating Nelson walks, check out TOP-10 Nelson short walks, trip guide, things to see & do.
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