Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park is a national park in New Zealand, located between Golden Bay and Tasman Bay at the northern end of the South Island. This park is the smallest of New Zealand’s national parks, and consists of forested, hills, valleys and rivers. It is named after Abel Tasman, who in 1642 became the first European explorer to sight New Zealand and who anchored nearby in Golden Bay. The Abel Tasman Coast Track, which we walked, is a popular tramping track that follows the coastline and is one of the Department of Conservation’s Great Walks. Kayaking, camping and sightseeing are other activities in the area. Those who do crave more comfort can stay in luxurious lodges, but sleeping under the stars is regarded as the ultimate way to experience the spirit of the Abel Tasman.
Access to Abel Tasman National Park is usually via the small settlement of Marahau. The nearest large town is Motueka, 20 kilometres to the south. Motueka was where we had spent the previous night – at an AirBnb called Tumbleweed Downs. Well-rested and ready to seek out some adventure, we made out way into the park.
Accessing the Park
In order to access the park, you need to walk through a kiosk. This is a really handy way to begin your walking (aka tramping) adventure because there is some important information to check out before you begin your jounery.
Out in the Open
We were only out in the open for a short while before heading into tree-covered paths. Almost the whole way, we could see the ocean beside us, but there were stretches where we were only surrounded by foliage. It was good to be protected from the sun’s harmful rays, especially with our sleeping bub attached to Justin’s chest.
Numerous Beach Options
Since you are basically free to explore the park as you wish, we knew that we could venture down to any beach that we liked. We wanted to find something pretty, and possibly deserted. Along the path, we only came across a handful of people, at most, so we knew that we could definitely find a private little spot to enjoy. We walked until we had worked up an appetite, and then started checking out the beach options. In the end, we actually backtracked a little to get back to a nice spot that we had from the path.
There was a bit of a wild track leading down to the sand, with mud at the end of it. We made it through all of that, with Eli still sleeping, and then walked along the beach to a rocky secluded area.
Low Tide Explorations
The fact that it was low-tide was just perfect because little man could venture out really far. There was a vast expanse of flat oceanside in front of us, so we felt comfortable letting him adventure off by himself. Now isn’t that just perfect?
There was no lack of quality time on this (or any other) road trip. Justin and I caught a bit of a tan while Eli was off playing with rocks, crabs and other sea creatures.
Can you see little man in the above image?
Let me zoom in a little for you…
THERE HE IS!
In his birthday-suit, free, and loving life. It doesn’t get better than this!
With the tide as low as it was, we decided to do our return-walk over the shore instead of along the coastal track. There were lots of little crabs and critters. This Mama (a complete chicken) was giving random little shrieks every couple of minutes.
Oh my gosh – I don’t enjoy feeling things move beneath my feet while I walk. Partially because I get freaked out, and partially because I don’t want to kill them by standing on them. Silly, I know ?
The Golden Glow
By the late afternoon, the sun was getting lower in the sky but it was still very hot. REMINDER: Do not forget sunblock if you are planning on exploring the Abel Tasman National Park. You might be in the shade while on parts of the coastal track, but if you’re kayaking or out on the beach, you will 100% need sunblock. The New Zealand sun is unforgiving.
Thankfully, we didn’t burn. By this stage of our trip though, we had gorgeous golden tans. It hadn’t been the warmest trip, but we were still getting some sun explosure. Especially on our arms! My Fitbit does a good job of keeping things in perspective.
Look at that tan line…
We found a great little restaurant right near the car park, and decided that we wanted to stay for a while. A few drinks in, and we started eyeing the pizzas that were being brought out. After the activity-filled day, this pizza – as well as the ice cold drinks – DID NOT DISAPPOINT! I am pretty sure that our time spent in this restaurant was equally as enjoyable as the rest of the day. It was a perfect end to a great family day of fun!
You can find the following information, and MUCH MORE, on NewZealand.com.
These are the key activities and tips for a time spent in Abel Tasman National Park. Check out more HERE.
The coastal track and other walks
Classed as one of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’, the Abel Tasman Coastal Track takes between 3 and 5 days to complete. It climbs around headlands and through native forest to a series of beautiful beaches. The track is walkable at any time of the year. Expect to see lots of other walkers and day visitors in summer, though the northern stretch from Totaranui to Wainui is far-less frequented. For a different view of the park, there are inland tracks that lead up to the dramatic karst landscape of Takaka Hill.
A number of kayaking companies within Abel Tasman national Park run guided tours from Marahau, Kaiteriteri and Golden Bay. If you’d rather be independent, you can rent kayaks and stay at campsites, huts or lodges within the park – just as you would if you were hiking.
For those with only a day to see Abel Tasman National Park, water taxi companies can provide a personalised mix of sightseeing by boat and track walking. It’s easy to arrange pick-up or drop-off points at various points along the tracks. Pre-booking is advised. Enquire at Motueka, Marahau or Kaiteriteri.
- Abel Tasman Coast Track huts and campsites need to be booked in advance all year round.
- Department of Conservation camp passes are required to use the campsites along the Coastal Track. See fees here.
- Fishing is prohibited in the Tonga Island marine reserve, which runs between Bark Bay and Awaroa Head.
- Safe drinking water is available at Totaranui, Bark Bay and the Anchorage. All other water needs to be treated or boiled.
- The sea is a comfortable temperature for swimming between December and March.
- From Wainui to Totaranui in the north, water taxi service is almost non-existent and guided group trips are strictly limited, allowing for a deeper wilderness experience for the keen independent traveller.
- Conditions, facilities and services change – always check the latest information at the nearest DOC visitor centre before you venture out.
Although Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand’s smallest national park, it’s perfectly formed for relaxation and adventure. If we had more time, we definitely would have spent a few days camping and kayaking here.
Maybe someday we will return and do an outdoor adventure with in this amazing National Park.