Abel Tasman Coast Track

Oct 10, 2017 | Elegant South

Abel Tasman National Park Bark Bay

The Abel Tasman Coast Track at a glance:

  • Can be walked in either direction between Marahau and Wainui Bay.
  • 60 kilometres long (37 miles) – A to B track.
  • Typically takes four nights, five days to complete

What we’ll do:

  • Onetahuti to Awaroa
  • Awaroa to Totaranui

Which trips include the Abel Tasman Coast Track day walk?

Elegant South – 10 days, Blenheim to Queenstown.

Where is the Abel Tasman Coast Track?

The Abel Tasman Coast Track takes in the majority of the coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park. The Abel Tasman is often called New Zealand’s most beautiful national park, although we’re not convinced we can pick a winner in that category! Both the park and the track are named after Abel Tasman, who was the first European to see New Zealand, in 1642.

The Abel Tasman National Park occupies a small area of the north-west corner of New Zealand’s South Island. At 225 square kilometres (87 square miles), it is the smallest of New Zealand’s national parks. The landscape consists of beautiful golden sandy beaches, crystal clear ocean, unmodified estuaries, granite cliffs, and lush beech forest. The track is well marked, and some sections are steep and muddy.

What’s so special about the Abel Tasman Coast Track?

Like all of the Great Walks in New Zealand, the Abel Tasman Coast Track is recognised for its outstanding natural beauty. The track follows the coastline for much of its journey, taking in the golden sandy beaches, and beautifully crystal clear waters of the upper South Island’s Tasman Bay. Sections of the Abel Tasman Coast Track are on the beach itself, and there’s also an estuary to cross when the tide is out. You won’t be alone if you choose to take off your walking boots and socks, and feel the sand between your toes, and the waves around your feet, as you walk these sections.

On our ‘Elegant South’ trip we’ll walk two sections of the Abel Tasman Coast Track. The first section starts at Tonga Quarry, just south of Onetahuti Bay where Tonga Island Marine Reserve can be seen off the coast. The only way to get to this section for a day walk is by boat, and once we disembark, we’ll turn right and head to the north. We’ll cross a bridge over a tidal inlet, and walk on the beach for a short time, before returning to the forest. The track meanders inland, amongst mossy beech trees and waterfalls – walk alone for a few minutes and appreciate the intermittent bird song and the quiet trickle of a stream alongside the trail.  After a couple of hours of gentle walking we’ll arrive back at the coast at Awaroa Lodge, our beautiful, secluded accommodation for the next two nights.

We’ll walk the second section of the Abel Tasman Coast Track the next morning, after a delicious breakfast. The tide will determine whether we walk this section north to south, or vice versa, and whether we catch our boat to the start of the walk, or from the end – seeing as we’ll need to cross the Awaroa Inlet. This section represents the variety of the national park – beautiful beaches, mossy forest, spectacular lookouts, and a historic timber mill. The beach at Waiharakeke Bay is one of the most stunning spots in the whole national park. You’ll want to be sure you’ve got your camera for both of these stunning walks in New Zealand’s smallest national park.

abel tasman national park tidal estuary

Exploring one of the estuaries on the Abel Tasman Coast Track.

abel tasman national park water taxi

A water taxi arriving in the bay to drop some walkers for a day walk.

abel tasman national park awaroa lodge

The beautiful, secluded Awaroa Lodge, our accommodation for several nights.

abel tasman national park tidal inlet bridge

A bridge gives walkers access at all times, across a tidal inlet on the Abel Tasman Coast Track.

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