Abel Tasman is New Zealand’s pocket handkerchief park, A pink sized national treasure that punches above its size with its global appeal. This is due to the glittering gold beaches, shallow turquoise waters, spectacular ocean views and range of wildlife. And then there is the weather.
Best time to visit
Winter, Coastal Track is lightly populated, carry layers and it is an excellent time to walk as it is not hot.
Summer peak season especially late December to early February. Forward booking is essential to avoid disappointment.
TIP: Carry sunscreen and insect repellent.
Autumn Excellent season for outdoors activities such as walking and kayaking.
Spring, rain can be expected with bursts of brilliant sunshine. Native wildlife is busy courting and parenting making it a favourite time of the year for nature lovers.
Get up to date New Zealand weather forecasts: Plan and prepare Abel Tasman National Park.
Route map (southern access to park Marahau carpark)
Route map (northern access to park Totaranui carpark)
There are three major entrances to the Abel Tasman. Marahau and Kaiteriteri in the south with road access from Motueka. In the north is Totaranui with road access from Takaka in Golden Bay.
Abel Tasman is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand. A kiwi summer is a given in Nelson. Lastly the sheer variety of holiday activities that can be undertaken with families and friends picking and choosing from:
Abel Tasman is a natural theme park without the noise or roller coasters rather the adrenaline rush is nature on full display offering a palate of activities to suit individual choice and needs of the many visitors. Maori have occupied the Abel Tasman coast for over 800 years, with archaeological sites in the park unearthing pits, terraces, defensive sites, gardens and stone floors. In the mid 1800’s, a number of settlers lived along the coastline, with the main method of transport being the sea. Today there are still few roads in Abel Tasman National Park, and water taxi or kayak is the ideal way to commute between beaches. The park’s gateways, perhaps you will just stay put entranced by Kaiteriteri, Motueka and Marahua.
One of the places that sums up the spirit of New Zealand is Awaroa. Awaro made headlines all over the world in 2016 when a couple of Kiwis decided to mount a crowdfunding campaign to buy a stretch of Awaroa beach that was put up for sale by its private owner.
The fear was that the new owners could deny access to the beach for the New Zealand public, and access to our coast is something many Kiwis have strong feelings about. In a major triumph for people power, the New Zealand public donated over two million dollars, purchased the beach and ceded it into the national park. Information described by Awaroa Bay.
It is recommended that you use a water taxi to whisk you round with a personalised mix of top sights sightseeing interspersed with short walks. Forward bookings would be essential. The best places for the start of the day are Motueka, Marahau or Kaiteriteri. If you are short on time, the water taxi is a great option to get out to a bay for a short walk, swim at a secluded beach, enjoy a picnic lunch and back again in a day. There are numerous water taxi operators, check our Nelson travel guide for details on how to book their services.
A given is building sand castles with the fine golden sand and lolling around the beach under the shade umbrella. Another is the enormous ice creams available throughout the region, a family favourite being crushed fresh sun-ripened Nelson berry fruit whipped into the vanilla ice cream. A mouth watering treat for all family members. Abel Tasman has outstanding family fun activities for younger visitors, these include
Golden Bay Kayaks specialise in family focused packages. Golden Bay Kayaks are based in Tata Beach, Tasman offering full or half day hire to bespoke packages including exploration of Tata Island. Tata is at the northern end of Abel Tasman. The area does not have the reputation of congestion that the more popular southern end of the park does in the peak season.
Location of Tata Beach
Nelson to Tata Beach (northern end of the Abel Tasman National Park).
The Abel Tasman great walk takes between three to four days to complete. It climbs headlands, weaves a track around bays and fords several shallow estuaries. The walk is walkable all year round. There are intriguing inland walks to the dramatic karst landscape of the Takaka hills. There are a number of short walks which is a great way to indulge in kayaking, a short walk and a chance to relax on an isolated beach. For details about walks consult the travel pack information for walks brochure.
A number of kayaking companies run guided tours from Marahau and Kaiteriteri. If you’d rather be independent, you can rent kayaks and stay at campsites, huts or lodges within the park or the kayak rental operators will arrange accommodation as part of the deal with the kayak hire. Recommended is Golden Bay Kayaks are based in Tata Beach, Tasman offering full or half day hire to bespoke packages however if you are at the southern end of the park there are a number of reputable kakak hire companies. Consult the Nelson travel guide for details.
Accommodation ranges from the sublime to a basic Department of Conservation hut or lodge. Independently owned visitor operators offer comfortable to luxurious accommodation choices. There is always freedom camping when overnighting in the park. For details about where to stay in the park or just outside in the seaside settlements check. Camping & Accommodation for booking details.
Abel Tasman Foreshore Management regulations permit landing only on selected beaches along the Abel Tasman coast. There are no commercial landings north of Totaranui
With the highest tidal range in the country, you need to plan your trip to take into account tidal crossings that can be impassable at High Tide.
The Abel Tasman Coast Track, from Marahau to Wainui is 51km. The section between Marahau and Totaranui is 38 kms.
The track does not require heavy hiking boots. There is no point higher than 200 metres (650 feet). For track details consult coast trail brochure.
If you plan to kayak, you need to book kayak hire and transfers before you travel into the Park.
The journey is worth it.