Day Hikes on the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Oct 10, 2017 | Best Hikes in New Zealand, Elegant South, New Zealand Great Walks, New Zealand Travel Advice

The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets. It’s a mirage of golden sand paradise, on an island that’s been made famous by its Southern Alps with dramatic granite mountain peaks and rain-forest – as seen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. So read on to discover how you can explore New Zealand’s smallest and arguably most beautiful National Park!

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 as part of our New Zealand Walking Tour trips:

  • Onetahuti to Awaroa. This 7.1km (4.4mi) walk will take approximately 2.5 hours at a leisurely pace.
  • Awaroa to Totaranui. Also 7.1km (4.4mi) and taking approximately 2.5 hours.

Map of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track day hikes:

Which trips include the Abel Tasman Coast Track day walk?

Elegant South – 11 days, Nelson 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.

Mia Gordon
22:28 22 Jul 18
I went on an 8 day tour with these guys and I thought I had already seen the best of New Zealand. I was wrong! Stunning, absolutely stunning scenery and the nicest guides. Their hospitality and professionalism was unparalleled and we got to see parts of New Zealand I had not seen. I am a Kiwi who was an avid hiker and adventure seeker growing up and in my twenties. I am in my forties now and I got to experience the best of NZ with my daughter which was awesome! Highly recommend New Zealand Walking Tours for anyone who loves being immersed in the most breathtakingly beautiful places on the planet with the nicest people guiding more
jeanne costello
22:31 15 Feb 18
Our New Zealand Walking Tour was absolutely fantastic and our best tour ever. Our guides were extremely knowledgeable and fun and took complete care of us, including making some wonderful picnic lunches and an amazing Christmas dinner. The places we visited were highlights on the South Island and we were able to hike, do a couple of boat tours, visit other interesting sites, and stay in some great places. This tour was the perfect combination of activities and I can't recommend it highly enough. A once in a lifetime adventure!read more
Roxanne Theriault
05:27 02 Nov 17
Amazing company, everything is top notch and they take care of you from start to finish! Always friendly, helpful, personable and professional - what kiwi hospitality is so famous for! You won't regret going on a walking tour with these folks and you'll definitely be planning your next trip, once you're back home! Highly recommend!read more
Miriam Houliston
05:19 02 Nov 17
Paul McDonald
21:13 30 Oct 17
I wanted to find a guiding company based in in New Zealand, with local guides. When I found out that New Zealand Walking Tours is part of the Active Adventures family, I was super confident to go ahead and arrange my trip. Exploring the Abel Tasman National Park by day and Awaroa Lodge by night was a massive highlight! I'll be back for more
Will Appelman
21:07 30 Oct 17
My wife and I are avid hikers, and New Zealand Walking Tours gave us the chance to explore a wide variety of New Zealand’s hiking trails – including amazing sections of the 9 Great Walks, and be rewarded with accommodations that are a step ahead of the competition, delicious locally sourced food and a tipple of New Zealand's finest local wine! But on our free day in Queenstown we met loads of local ‘Kiwis’ who hadn’t even heard of some of the trails we hiked along the way – it actually made us feel like the locals! In the same time it would have taken us to hike the Milford Track from start to finish (like we planned) we hiked an amazing section of the famous track, while also taking a boat cruise on Milford Sound and getting flown by helicopter from Milford Sound to the most incredible and isolated luxury lodge in the Hollyford. We then jet boated out across a lake before a beautiful walk back to civilisation on the Hollyford Track. Before our trip, Fiona worked out exactly the perfect trip to suit what we were looking for, and Lynette was an amazing help getting us ready to depart - making sure we packed everything we need, and not so much of what we didn't need. Highly recommended!read more
Joe Sutheran
20:52 30 Oct 17
I had a great time in New Zealand with my parents, travelling with New Zealand Walking Tours. I know my parents were so happy they found this company, the activity level was spot on for them, and accommodations, food etc was never less than outstanding. I didn't have much to do with the company pre-trip, but I know my parents were extremely impressed with the communications, and preparation advice from the team behind the scenes. What I can say is that when it came to the trip itself, the guides were just a joy to be around, extremely enthusiastic, interested in their guests, and very knowledgeable. Being a bit younger than much of the group, I was a little apprehensive that I might not enjoy it, but I don't know what I was worried about! Spending time getting to know the others on the trip, as well as the guides, was a delight - but what meant the most to me was spending time with my parents without the burden of the 'real world' on any of us, just enjoying the moment and each other's company. Thank you New Zealand Walking Tours for showing us the best of your stunningly beautiful country, and giving all three of us happy memories we'll never more
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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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