Where: Between Marahau and Wainui Bay, New Zealand, Pacific.
When: October – April – peak summer season of Nov- January is best avoided
Happenings: Kayaking, Hiking, Bird Watching
Remember to Bring: Your own cooking equipment if staying in a hut and a good insect repellent
Where it’s at
Stretching from Kaiteriteri beach, at Marahau at the southern end, through to Wainui Bay, at the northern end, Abel Tasman is New Zealand’s smallest but most popular national park, and home to some of the most attractive, uncrowded and unspoilt beaches that New Zealand has to offer.
Things to see and do
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track (understandably one of the Great Walks) winds its way through beautiful native forest and coastal scenery, with fantastic views of golden beaches and sculptured cliffs, and thanks to the mild climate of the Nelson area, it is pleasant to visit all year round – worth bearing in mind as it can get unpleasantly busy in the popular summer months. You can walk the track along the coastline in a few days, but for the less intrepid explorer you can take a day trip with Abel Tasman Enterprises, whose ferries drop and pick up walkers at beaches all along the route, and offer a daily service in the summer. Another option is to take one of the many kayaking tours, which will take you along the coast, in and out of bays and to islands along coastline, giving you the opportunity to visit a few of the quieter spots that most walkers never get to.
For those into their wildlife, the track is a great chance to see much of New Zealand’s more famous native bird life (though sadly not the Kiwi), as well as many of the unique native national flora. Even for those without a specific appreciation of different plant species, the variety, and beauty of the scenery will still impress.
Like most of New Zealand’s walking trails, passes must be bought before starting the track, and can be purchased from the Motueka Information Centre. As one of the most popular great walks there is also a booking system in operation for the peak season, which runs from the beginning of October to the end of April. Passes are date specific, and will guarantee you a bed only for the date shown. Each hut has 20-30 beds per hut, and offer all other basic facilities (toilets, water etc) but have no cooking facilities so ensure you bring your own. Also be sure to remember to wear firm footwear – though hiking boots are not necessary – and to bring your insect repellent as the local sandflies are particularly keen on feasting on foreign blood!
Top beaches along the route include Totoranui, Bark Bay, Torrent Bay, which are all on ferry route, and Onetahuti. However, the real beauty of this walk is the ability to feel like you’ve discovered your own special little beach, even if hundreds probably have been there before you.
Abel Tasman Experiences
Detailed information about walking in the park; where to stay, when to come and what you’ll need.
New Zealand Kayak Tours
A local company offering information regarding the track and kayak tours along coastline.
Sea Kayak New Zealand
Info on the park, as well as tours, both day and overnight. You can also hire your own kayaks from them.
By Giulia Vincenzi