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Abel Tasman National Park walks: a list with the best hikes!

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Despite the fact I don’t live in New Zealand, I’m proud to be able to say that I’ve been to Abel Tasman National Park five times over the past years. It’s one of those places that I always tend to return to while in New Zealand, even though it’s on the other side of the world. By now, I’ve actually tried most of the Abel Tasman National Park walks and I decided the time was right to make a list so you can pick your Abel Tasman walk. Enjoy!

This post first appeared in 2020 and was updated in 2023 after my most recent visit to New Zealand and exploration in Abel Tasman National Park.


Abel Tasman National Park walks

Abel Tasman Coast Track


A short introduction to Abel Tasman National Park


Abel Tasman National Park is named after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who arrived here in 1642. It’s the smallest of New Zealand’s national parks and located on the northern part of the South Island, about a 1.5 hour drive from the city of Nelson. You cannot access Abel Tasman National Park by car, the best ways are on foot or by kayak. You can also take a tour by boat or access with a water taxi from various towns around the park.

The park is known for the green and lush forests as well as the golden sand beaches. Birdlife is abundant in the park and it’s definitely one of New Zealand’s most amazing places to visit in my opinion. Below you’ll find a list of the best hikes in Abel Tasman National Park, from south to north.

Abel Tasman National Park walks

Abel Tasman National Park


Day walk from Marahau to Anchorage (or vice versa)


One of the most popular walks inside the park is the day walk from Marahau to Anchorage Bay. This walk is about 12 kilometers and not too difficult so anyone with a basic shape should be able to do this walk. The trail is well paved in most places and there’s little altitude difference. You can visit some very nice beaches along the way such as Apple Tree Beach and Akersten Bay. Those beaches are generally below the main trail and will make it a bit more ups and down.

For this walk you’ll need to book a water taxi ride from Marahau to Anchorage or vice versa. I used Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi for this and booked a few days ahead as it can be quite busy. You can also do the walk in the other direction of course, which means you’ll be walking back to Marahau which gives you a bit more freedom to walk back to your car (in case you’re driving) rather than having to hurry up for the water taxi.

Anchorage Bay where the watertaxi's will drop you off

Anchorage Bay where the watertaxi’s will drop you off


Pitt Head, Anchorage


From Anchorage Bay you can walk to the Pitt Head viewpoint, just above the bay. The walk to the viewpoint is about 25 minutes one way, but you can also make a 1.5 hour loop of it. The trail is well paved, not too difficult and the views from Pitt Head are simply stunning. You can combine this walk with the Anchorage – Marahau walk if you decide to do the hike this way and you’re not in a hurry.

Pitt Head in Abel Tasman National Park

Overlooking Pitt Head in Abel Tasman National Park
Awaroa Inlet

Awaroa Inlet just before Anchorage


Bark Bay to Torrent Bay


Part of the Abel Tasman Coast Track, this is a popular half day hike as well. Ask for the water taxi to drop you off at Bark Bay and walk back down south to Torrent Bay. This walk will be around 2.5 hours, depending on how busy it is at the swing bridge that you’ll find along the way. Since there can only be 5 people on the bridge at the same time, waiting times may occur. When I was there for the Abel Tasman Coast Track, I had to wait a few minutes to pass the bridge.



Hikes from Totaranui


Totaranui is a campsite and small settlement in the north of Abel Tasman National Park. It’s a popular holiday destination for families in the summer, note that the campsite will usually be quite full. The road over the mountains to Totaranui is windy and unpaved, check with your rental car company if you are allowed to drive this road in case you have a rental vehicle.

Totaranui in Abel Tasman National Park

Totaranui


Headlands Track


Those wishing to visit Totaranui can hike the Headlands Track, a one hour walk from the settlement. It’s just an introduction to the variety in landscape and will give you an idea about the different ecological systems inside the park. It’s a one hour return walk from the DOC campsite.



Anapai Bay


One of the nicest bays inside Abel Tasman National Park is actually Anapai Bay. Since water taxis don’t go past Totaranui, it’s much more quiet here than on other beaches. I had the beach pretty much all to myself when I visited and it’s just an hours walk including one good climb from Totaranui. You can also decide to push on to Mutton Cove, another hour from Totaranui, making it a two hour one way walk. Mutton Cove was even prettier than Anapai Bay and … much windier as well!


Overlooking Totaranui

Overlooking Totaranui


Separation Point


Separation Point is located in the far northeast corner of Abel Tasman National Park and can be reached from Totaranui or Whariwharangi Bay (described below). The last section of the trail is quite steep and it’s recommended that you leave packs at the bush edge. The trail is rugged and not well maintained and a fall can have serious consequences. But … when you make it down to the ocean, you will be rewarded with stunning views!

Separation Point going down

Separation Point going down
At Separation Point

At Separation Point


Whariwharangi Bay


At the end of the road near the settlement of Wainui you can do the Whariwharangi Bay walk. This one will lead you to the quiet Whariwharangi Bay and same name backcountry hut, a former homestead which is now in use as the last hut on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. It’s a four hour return over the hill from the parking lot. If you have a bit more time to spend, make sure to add Separation Point as well. If lucky, you can see a seal colony there. Separation Point is another hour past Whariwharangi Bay.


Overlooking Whariwharangi Bay

Overlooking Whariwharangi Bay from above


Wainui Falls Walk


One of the best and easiest walks in Abel Tasman National Park is definitely the Wainui Falls Walk. This 1.5 hour return walk starts just outside the park, which you’ll enter along the way. The falls are 20 meters high and especially when it’s been raining they are quite dramatic. In this article you can read all about my visit.


Wainui Falls Base

Wainui Falls walk


The Abel Tasman Coast Track


And last but not least, the Abel Tasman Coast Track. This famous 3-5 day Great Walk of New Zealand is a must if you enjoy tramping. I did this hike twice, one from Marahau to Totaranui and once all the way onwards to Wainui Bay. I actually thought that the best part of the walk was between Totaranui and Wanui since this part of the national park gets way less visitors than the southern section. I did the hike in November and even then I still had parts of the walk all to myself, or I’d only run into little people at some places. Note that all huts and campsites must be booked year round!

Go here to read my blog about the Abel Tasman Coast Track

The north beaches at Abel Tasman National Park

The north beaches at Abel Tasman National Park


Useful information about Abel Tasman National Park

  • The park has three main entrance points: Marahau (most popular) in the south and Totaranui and Wainui in the north. Those two receive much lesser visitors but requires more of an effort to get there, you will have to drive across Takaka Hill which can be a challenge for big motorhomes.
  • There are no shops and drinking water must be filtered. I always bring my Sawyer Squeeze.
  • Always bring a hat to protect you from the sun and wear proper footwear. Note there are many tidal stream crossings and on most of the walks you will end up having to take your shoes off or get wet feet.
  • Some areas have limited mobile phone connection but usually not strong enough to upload/download.
  • Be prepared for all kinds of weather. Even though I had amazing weather during most of my visits, this region is also prone to cyclones and floodings. Always check the weather updates well ahead of your visit!
The best hikes in Abel Tasman National Park

Blue waters at Separation Point


Where to stay before/after your hike


Where you stay before and after your hike is completely up to you. You may opt to visit Abel Tasman National Park as a day trip from Nelson. Here I can recommend the Palazzo Motor Lodge. I’ve also stayed at Top 10 Motueka Holiday Park, a great option for families. If you wist to stay closer to the park entrance, check out options in Marahau or Kaiteriteri here. In case you visit the northern part, this is best done from Takaka. Note that in high season booking accommodations as well as campsites is a must. I traveled both in November and January and most places were fully booked well in advance.

Looking for a rental car? Check rates, availability and options here. My last rental was with Omega Rentals from Nelson and that worked just fine. Nothing fancy, but good enough to keep me going for a few days!

On one of the many beaches

On one of the many beaches


Conclusion


I hope you’ve found this article useful and that you’ve enjoyed reading about all the best Abel Tasman National Park walk options. Always make sure to check the DOC website for latest information regarding possible hikes, closures and track changes.

Want to continue reading? You may also like the following posts:


Alternatively, visit my New Zealand homepage here, where you’ll find more than 50 articles about active travel in New Zealand!


This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase and/or reservation via such a link, we will receive a modest commission at no extra cost to you, with which we can keep this site up to date and free of charge to visit.



The post Abel Tasman National Park walks: a list with the best hikes! appeared first on We12Travel.
 
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