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18 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Abel Tasman National Park (2024 Guide!)

18 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Abel Tasman National Park (2024 Guide!)

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Abel Tasman National Park is one of the most stunning destinations in New Zealand, which is really saying something because it’s an incredibly beautiful country! 

Situated along the northern coastline of the South Island, Abel Tasman is one of New Zealand’s National Parks that’s renowned for its golden beaches, dramatic coastline, and awesome hiking tracks.

Hiking here will take you along some of the best trails in New Zealand that are actually pretty easy since most are flat and very well-marked, and did I mention they’re also breathtakingly beautiful! Likely the most famous hike here is the Abel Tasman Coast Track. It’s one of the 10 Great Walks and a total bucket list activity in New Zealand!

Abel Tasman is New Zealand’s smallest national park, but don’t let that fool you: there’s still a ton to explore here. It is possible to visit in a single day, but I would recommend not cutting your visit short and planning to do an overnight hike or kayaking adventure. 

After living and traveling around the country, I’ve found there’s so much to do and see in Abel Tasman National Park that it’s definitely best to read up on it before you go. That’s where I come in! I’ve put together this comprehensive guide containing 18 things you need to know before you go.

Table Of Contents
  1. 1. About Abel Tasman National Park 
  2. 2. Where is Abel Tasman National Park? 
  3. 3. When is the best time to visit Abel Tasman National Park? 
  4. 4. Does it cost money to visit Abel Tasman National Park?
  5. 5. Where can you visit Abel Tasman National Park from? 
  6. 6. What is the Abel Tasman Coast Track?
  7. 7. What are the highlights in Abel Tasman National Park? 
  8. 8. What are the best things to do in Abel Tasman National Park? 
  9. 9. What are the campsites and huts in Abel Tasman National Park?
  10. 10. What are the best shorter overnight and single-day hikes in Abel Tasman? 
  11. 11. What are the best tours to Abel Tasman National Park?
  12. 12. Can you stay in Abel Tasman National Park without camping?
  13. 13. Do you need to book your visit to the park in advance?
  14. 14. How many days do you need to explore Abel Tasman National Park?
  15. 15. Can you drink the water in Abel Tasman National Park?
  16. 16. Is Abel Tasman National Park suitable for children?
  17. 17. Where should you park overnight while in Abel Tasman National Park? 
  18. 18. Is visiting Abel Tasman National Park worth it?
  19. Thanks for reading!
  20. Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

1. About Abel Tasman National Park 

Bailey poses for a photo at the Mārahau entrance of Abel Tasman National Park, NZ
Mārahau entrance of Abel Tasman National Park, NZ
Bailey poses for a photo at a viewpoint along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track in New Zealand
What a stunning place!

Size 

Abel Tasman may be the smallest national park in New Zealand, but at 237 square kilometers (91.5 square miles) it’s not exactly tiny. There are over 30 beaches and bays here, as well as lots of lush rainforest, dramatic cliffs, and some beautiful islands that you can kayak around. Some of the islands in the park are even home to some amazing New Zealand wildlife like blue penguin and fur seal colonies! 

Climate

The park has a very mild climate, so it’s warm in summer but not too hot to hike. Meanwhile, visiting in the winter means you’re in for cooler temps, but definitely not as cold as some parts of New Zealand – you won’t see any snow here! In the summer, temperatures average between 20-25°C (68-77°F), which we think is perfect for enjoying the park’s trails and beaches. 

History

It’s believed that the Maori people have lived in Abel Tasman for over 600 years. Meanwhile, the first European to visit the park was Abel Janszoon Tasman, a seafarer who worked for the Dutch East India Company. Tasman was actually the first-ever European to visit New Zealand, so he was kind of a big deal. 

Tasman’s time in what is now the national park didn’t go so well, though. In 1642 he anchored his boat near what is now known as Golden Bay and had a brief, but violent, altercation with the Maori people before making a hasty exit from the area. 

Almost three centuries later, Pérrine Moncrieff, a conservationist, and ornithologist, began to push for the land to become a protected area. In December 1942, the park was established on the 300th anniversary of Tasman’s visit and today it receives around 200,000 visitors per year. 

2. Where is Abel Tasman National Park? 

Bailey relaxes at the beach at the Anchorage Bay Abel Tasman, New Zealand
In paradise!

Abel Tasman is on the northern tip of the South Island. Nelson is the closest major city, and it’s 59 kilometers (37 miles) away from the park’s southern entrance in Mārahau.

It takes about an hour to drive to Abel Tasman from Nelson, so it’s easy to do as a quick South Island road trip. You can also visit from the charming town of Motueka which is only a 25-minute drive away. Meanwhile, Wainui Bay is the closest town to the northern entrance of the park.

Related Read: Another great drive in this area is the road trip between Nelson and Picton!

3. When is the best time to visit Abel Tasman National Park? 

Bailey swims in the beautiful waters of Abel Tasman National park
In summer, the water is way too inviting to not jump in!

Definitely the summer. The hiking trails are drier during the summer and it’s the best time of year to enjoy some of the best beaches in New Zealand that are located right here. Plus, camping is better during the summertime as it doesn’t get super cold at night. For us, Abel Tasman really is a summer destination.

4. Does it cost money to visit Abel Tasman National Park?

Bailey sips a drink at sunset on a beach in Abel Tasman National Park
Sunsets in Abel Tasman. Oh and there’s wine in that cup, not coffee!
A group of people kayak in the ocean water of Abel Tasman National Park
Kayaking in the park!

No, the park is free to visit! However, if you want to stay overnight in the park (which we highly recommend doing) you’ll need to pay for accommodation in a campsite, hut, hostel, or hotel. And obviously, if you want to do a guided tour or activity, then you’ll have to pay for that too. 

5. Where can you visit Abel Tasman National Park from? 

Coastal area in Marahau, NZ
Marahau!

Marahau (Most popular)

Marahau is the southern gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, and you can access the Coast Track from here. There’s a Department of Conservation (DOC) parking lot right next to the trail, so you can either drive here from Nelson and park, or stay overnight in the town. 

As well as being the main gateway to the park, Marahau itself has a lot of charm. It’s a super laid-back beach village that doesn’t feel too touristy or commercial, despite its close proximity to one of New Zealand’s most popular parks. If you stay here, make sure you visit Hooked for some craft beer and beautiful views of the Astrolabe Roadstead. 

Kaiteriteri 

Kaiteriteri is another popular beach town to visit Abel Tasman from. It’s about 10 kilometers (6.5 miles) from the southern entrance to the park. You can either take a water taxi from Kaiteriteri into the park or drive to Marahau and walk into the park from there. Personally, we think it’s better to stay in Marahau instead of Kaiteriteri since it’s right next to the park, but both are nice beach towns.

Nelson

Nelson is the closest major city to Abel Tasman National Park. It’s 59 kilometers (37 miles) from Marahau, and since it only takes an hour to drive, it’s a really popular place to visit from.

If you’re staying in Nelson, you can do day trips into the park, like this full-day hiking tour which includes a cruise and a guided hike to see the highlights of the park. 

Wainui Bay 

Wainui Bay is the closest town to the northern entrance to the park. There’s a large DOC parking lot here where you can leave your car, and then you’ll need to follow a gravel road for about 2 km (1.2 miles) to reach the Abel Tasman Coast Track. 

This entrance to the park is quieter than the southern side, largely because it’s not as convenient of an access point. However, it’s the best place to enter the park if you want to access Awaroa Bay, which is a remote and beautiful part of the park with lodge accommodations and campsites. 

6. What is the Abel Tasman Coast Track?

Bailey on a beach along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track in her hiking gear and large backpack with tent
The hiking is a little different in Abel Tasman when compared with the rest of NZ!

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is a 60-kilometer (37-mile) hiking trail that takes you along the length of the national park. Tackling this trail is one of the best ways to explore the park and immerse yourself fully in its natural beauty. 

You can just hike a section of the track, or you can do the entire thing in 3-5 days and camp overnight in DOC campsites at the park’s beautiful bays. You can also kayak alongside sections of the track instead, since it follows the coast! 

If you decide to do the entire hike, you’ll usually start in Marahau and end in Wainui or Tōtaranui, and then take a boat back to your starting point. However, if you don’t want to do the entire trail, you can also take a water taxi back from pretty much any of the suggested overnight stops along the way instead.

Alternatively, you can also turn the hike into a loop and take the Abel Tasman Inland Track back to Marahau, but this track is much steeper and the views aren’t as good.

The track is generally pretty easy to walk and during the summer, you could even do it in regular sneakers rather than hiking boots. There are a few steep sections here and there, but it’s mostly a pretty even and flat trail, and the bush provides plenty of shade along the way. 

The Coast Track can be broken up into 5 sections, which we’ve outlined below. Each of these sections is bookended by campsites and huts. 

You can tackle one section per day, or double up some sections if you want to finish the track in 3 or 4 days. Sections 3 and 4 are the longest two parts of the hike, so we don’t recommend doing them both on the same day. It makes the most sense to do sections 1 and 2 in the same day, and then to double up sections 4 and 5 as well if you want to complete the hike in 3 days. 

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Bailey crosses a wooden briedge as she hikes the Abel tasman Coastal Track in NZ
On my way to Anchorage!

Section 1: Marahau to Anchorage

It’s a 12.4-kilometer (7.7-mile) walk from Marahau to Anchorage Bay, and it usually takes around 4 hours. If you’re trying to do the Coast Track in 3 or 4 days, this section doubles up well with the next part of the walk. But if you’re taking a whole day to do the Marahau to Anchorage walk, then you can go at a super leisurely pace and stop for lots of swims along the way!

Section 2: Anchorage to Bark Bay 

This section of the hike takes you over the Falls River Swing Bridge and through lots of lush forest before you reach beautiful Bark Bay, where you can camp overnight either in a tent or at one of our favorite DOC huts

This section of the park requires you to either cross Torrent Bay or take a side track around it. Crossing the bay is the faster and more scenic route, but you’ll need to do it 2 hours before or after low tide. You can check the tide times here and plan accordingly. 

If you can’t reach Torrent Bay in time to cross it, you can take the all-tide track instead. This track is steeper, not as pretty, and it adds another hour onto your hike, so we do recommend trying to cross Torrent Bay if you can. 

This section of the hike is 8.4 kilometers (5.2 miles) long and takes about 3 hours if you manage to cross Torrent Bay. If not, it will take around 4 hours. 

Section 3: Bark Bay to Awaroa 

After leaving Bark Bay, you’ll head into the bush but still enjoy plenty of lookout points along the way. This part of the trail also takes you to Onetahuti Bay, a very long and pristine stretch of beach. You’ll then head back into the forest and head over the Tonga Saddle before arriving in Arawoa. You’re deep into Abel Tasman now! 

This section is 13.5 kilometers (8.4 miles) long and should take you 4-5 hours to complete. You can always stop in Onetahuti Bay for a swim or to sunbathe for a while partway through your walk! 

Awaroa Bay in Abel Tasman National Park, NZ
Awaroa Bay in Abel Tasman National Park, NZ

Section 4: Awaroa to Whariwharangi Bay

At 16.9 kilometers (10.5 miles) this is the longest section of the hike, and it should take you around 5-6 hours. You’ll need to be careful with tide timings here too. You can only cross the Awaroa Inlet 90 minutes before low tide, or 2 hours afterward, and unlike on day 2, there’s no alternative, all-tide track! Make sure you check the tide table carefully before you go. 

After crossing the Awaroa Inlet, you’ll traverse across pretty beaches and rocky outcrops along the coast on your way to Whariwharangi Bay, which boasts a kilometer-long beach. 

Section 5: Whariwharangi Bay to Wainui or Tōtaranui 

The last part of the hike takes you to a viewpoint over the Wainui Inlet for one last dose of natural beauty before you head to your finishing point. If you decide to hike to Wainui, then it’s 5.7 kilometers (3.5 miles) and takes around 2 hours. However, we actually recommend adding on an extra hour and going to Totaranui instead, which is a 9-kilometer (5.5-mile) journey. This is because you can catch a water taxi back to Marahau from here, whereas you can’t get one from Wainui. 

7. What are the highlights in Abel Tasman National Park? 

Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman National Park 
Torrent Bay is one of the most beautiful spots to visit!

Awaroa Bay

What’s cool about Awaroa Bay is that it’s publicly owned! In 2016, the previous owner put the beach up for sale and 40,000 New Zealanders rallied to reclaim it, raising $2.3 million NZD collectively. It became part of Abel Tasman National Park in 2017, and you can access it by either walking along the Coast Track or taking a water taxi from Marahau or Kaiteriteri.

To spend even more time soaking up its beauty, you can stay at either a campsite, a glamping site, a hut in Awaroa Bay, or at the Awaroa Lodge

Torrent Bay

Torrent Bay is a long, white-sand beach, and it’s one of Abel Tasman’s most popular places for swimming and sunbathing. It takes about 4 hours to hike there from Marahau, or since Torrent Bay is right across from Anchorage, you can just take a water taxi here and back instead. At low tide, you can get from Torrent Bay to Anchorage in 20-25 minutes, but at high tide, you’ll need to take the side track around, which takes about an hour. 

However, if you do want to spend the night here, you can choose between either Torrent Bay Village Campsite, or the Torrent Bay Lodge if you don’t want to camp. 

Coquille Bay 

Coquille Bay is a bit of a hidden gem inside Abel Tasman National Park. It’s a 3.2-kilometer (2-mile) walk from Marahau, so you can hike there and back in a day or stop there on your way to Anchorage if you’re doing section 1 of the Coast Track. There’s also a small, 6-site campground here where you can stay the night if you want to. 

Falls River Swing Bridge

The Falls River Swing Bridge is a 40-meter (131-foot) bridge that hangs over the Falls River between Torrent Bay and Bark Bay. It’s about 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) from the bridge to Bark Bay, or 2.3 kilometers (1.4 miles) to Torrent Bay. You get beautiful views of both the river channel and the surrounding vegetation, so this makes a nice place to pause as you hike between the two bays! 

Bark Bay

Bark Bay used to be a tree-harvesting hotspot, but nowadays it’s better known for its excellent beachfront camping and natural beauty. Bark Bay Falls are also just 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) away, which makes a nice little detour.

There’s lots of interesting birdlife at Bark Bay. In 2019, 12 kākā were released here in an attempt to reintroduce these amazing birds to Abel Tasman National Park. The project was pretty successful, so if you pay a visit to Bark Bay there’s a good chance you’ll see (and definitely hear) some kākā.

There’s a beachfront campsite at Bark Bay, so you can wake up right next to the ocean. There’s also a DOC hut here with 34 bunk beds if you don’t want to camp. 

And as for getting to Bark Bay, it’s a popular overnight stop on the Coast Track hiking route, or it can also be accessed via water taxi from Marahau. 

8. What are the best things to do in Abel Tasman National Park? 

Hike 

Bailey crosses a small wooden bridge along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track
Hiking is the best way to explore the park!

Hiking is one of the most popular things to do in Abel Tasman National Park since it has some of the best hikes on the South Island! When you hike here, you’ll see a ton of wildlife and beautiful scenery, and there are plenty of opportunities to stop and swim at the park’s stunning beaches.

We’ve written a ton of info on the Abel Tasman Coast Track above so we won’t repeat ourselves here, but basically, you can just do a section of the track and then hike or take a water taxi back, or you can tackle the whole thing in 3-5 days. Most of the Coast Track is pretty flat and even, so it’s very accessible for people of all fitness levels. You should definitely try to do at least one short hike along this famous route while you’re here! 

Go canyoning 

Bailey canyoning in Abel Tasman, New Zealand
Canyoning is so much fun but I was also a little scared!

During the summer months, you can go canyoning at the Torrent River. This all-day adventure involves abseiling, swimming, jumping… you name it! 

The tour starts at the aqua taxi base in Marahau, and includes free pickup from Marahau and Kaiteriteri. You can also add transport from Nelson for $35 NZD per person. From Marahau, you’ll take a water taxi to Anchorage and then head to the Torrent River Canyon for an all-day canyoning adventure in the middle of the rainforest. Lunch, professional photos, and all of your safety gear are included in the $295 NZD price tag.

We think that this is such a fun and exciting way to experience Abel Tasman National Park, and it will definitely get your adrenaline pumping. 

Kayaking 

People kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
Kayaking is the most scenic way to see the park!

Kayaking is super popular in Abel Tasman National Park! It’s a great way to get out on the water and see the beauty of the coastline, and there are lots of different tours that take you to different points of interest inside the park. Kayaking also helps you see a lot of the park in a relatively short space of time, so it’s ideal if you don’t have long to spend here.

You can rent kayaks in Marahau for $198 NZD per day for a 2-person kayak. Some single kayaks are also available for $99 NZD each if you’re traveling solo or are in a group with an odd number of people.

If you want an independent overnight kayaking adventure, then you can book a 2-day rental instead, which also includes a camping pass. This gives you more time to explore the Anchorage and Astrolabe areas, which are on the southern end of the park, and spend a night on the beach at either Observation or Te Pukatea Bay. A 2-day rental costs $174 NZD per person for international visitors or $166 NZD for New Zealand citizens, and you can only rent double kayaks. 

Of course, if you haven’t done a lot of kayaking before or are traveling with kids, then you might feel more comfortable going as part of a guided tour. This small group excursion lasts for 3 hours, so it’s not too taxing for beginners or little ones, and you’ll get to paddle around Split Apple Rock, which is one of the park’s most famous sights. 

Alternatively, you can also take a half-day kayaking tour out to the Adele and Fisherman Islands to visit the resident seals and blue penguins.

Do a boat trip

A boat on the shores of the beach at the Anchorage in Abel Tasman NP
Boat trips are the easiest way to see that park!

If you’re looking to relax and unwind in Abel Tasman National Park, a boat trip is the perfect way to take it easy while still soaking in the park’s incredible scenery. 

There are lots of different cruise options available, such as a morning cruise that takes you the entire way along the coastline from Kaiteriteri to Totaranui, with several stops at the park’s best beaches. It costs $90 NZD per adult and $49 NZD for children, and it’s an ideal way to see the park’s entire coastline if you’re short on time. 

You can also take a 90-minute happy hour cruise from Kaiteriteri, where the drinks will be flowing with lots of special deals on board. But it’s not all about the booze: you’ll also see Torrent Bay and Bark Bay, sail past Split Apple Rock, and pass by Adele Island where you can see seals and penguins on the shore. It costs $70 NZD for adults and is free for under 14s, although obviously, no one under 18 will be able to buy alcohol on board. 

Related Read: If you are a wine lover, don’t miss exploring the best wine regions in New Zealand while you’re here!

Skydive 

tandem skydiving at Skydive Abel Tasman in Nelson, New Zealand
Photo credit: Skydive Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman National Park is one of the best places in New Zealand to go skydiving! You’ll have incredible bird’s eye views over one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand, as well as the insane adrenaline rush that always comes with skydiving. 

A 10,000-foot skydive over the park costs $299 NZD and gives you around 30 seconds of freefall before your parachute opens. The price also includes pickup from Nelson or anywhere in the Tasman region, which is really convenient. Or, if you want to take things even higher, you can do a 16,500-foot or 20,000-foot skydive – which is the maximum height allowed in New Zealand!

Scuba diving

Bailey scuba diving in Abel Tasman National Park, NZ
So cool!

Of course, some people would much rather explore Abel Tasman from below the water. Abyss Dive is a Nelson-based diving center that can take you diving in the Tonga Island Marine Reserve inside of Abel Tasman, or even get you PADI certified. It’s so much fun to explore the park below the surface and there are lots of fascinating creatures to spot. 

Go on a scenic flight

Bailey in a helicopter over Abel Tasman National Park, NZ
Get above the crowds!
Helicopters Nelson New Zealand fly over Abel Tasman NP
Those views! Photo credit: Helicopters Nelson

We love a good scenic flight! It’s an amazing way to experience aerial views of Abel Tasman and take in a lot of the park’s beauty in a short space of time. You’ll honestly be amazed by the bright blue waters, white sands, and lush scalloped coastlines of the park as you fly over in this 50-minute flight from Nelson

At almost an hour long (return) this scenic helicopter flight is much longer than most of the others we have done! You fly all the way from Nelson along the Tasman Bay coastline and land at the Awaroa Lodge, where you can check out the beach or buy lunch before heading back to the city. 

The flight costs $1,450 NZD for a group of up to 3 people per helicopter. Obviously, this isn’t a cheap thing to do but if you split it three ways, we think it’s good value for money as scenic flights go given that you get such a long time in the air. 

Related Read: If you can’t get enough of New Zealand from the air, we love these scenic flights over Queenstown and Milford Sound!

Visit Split Apple Rock

Bailey poses for a photo at Split Apple Rock near Abel Tasman National Park, NZ
This is one cool natural attraction!

Split Apple Rock is a must-visit when you’re in Abel Tasman! It’s one of the park’s most iconic sights because it looks just like an apple cleaved perfectly in two – hence the name. 

There are a couple of different ways to see Split Apple Rock. If you’re driving a rental car to Abel Tasman, you can park your car along Tokongawa Road in Kaiteriteri, and then walk along Moonraker Way down to the beach, where you’ll have a fantastic view of the famous rock. 

If you’re renting kayaks, you can also paddle out to Split Apple Rock or you can join this awesome waka paddling tour which takes you around the rock in a traditional Maori watercraft. Your journey will begin with a formal Maori greeting and as you paddle, you’ll learn all about different commands, salutes, and traditions. It costs $95 NZD for a 3-hour experience and we think that this is an awesome way to combine an aquatic adventure with some culture and heritage! 

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9. What are the campsites and huts in Abel Tasman National Park?

Bailey inside the Anchorage Hut along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track
Me inside the Anchorage Hut along the Abel Tasman Coast Track

There are 19 campsites and 4 huts along the coast of Abel Tasman National Park, all of which are run by the New Zealand DOC. 

You MUST book your campsite or hut in advance before you start the hike. If you don’t have a booking, you could actually be charged a penalty or turned away if the hut or campsite is already full.

Huts

Since the Coast Track is a Great Walk, all of the huts inside Abel Tasman belong to the highest tier of hut that the DOC manages. With that being said, don’t arrive expecting 5-star luxury. 

Great Walk Huts have running water, a place to cook, heating, and foam mattresses. Everyone sleeps in large communal rooms and some of the bunk beds are attached in a row, so you could find yourself sleeping very close to a total stranger. You’ll also need to bring your own sleeping bag – there’s no turndown service inside the huts! 

The advantage of staying in a hut is that it saves you from bringing a tent and sleeping mats with you when you’re hiking for multiple days in a row. 

For international visitors, huts inside Abel Tasman National Park cost $56 NZD per night for adults and $32 NZD for kids from October – April. For New Zealanders, they cost $42 NZD per night during the summer, and those under 18 can stay for free. 

During May, June, and September, the huts cost $32 NZD per night for all adult visitors and are free for all under 18s, regardless of nationality. Meanwhile, in July and August, it’s even cheaper to stay in the huts at $26 NZD per adult per night. But despite these lower prices, we still think it’s better to visit Abel Tasman during the summer! 

From south the north, the huts inside Abel Tasman National Park are as follows:

The Anchorage and Bark Bay Huts both have 34 beds, while Awaroa and Whariwharangi have 26 and 20 respectively. Remember to book huts online in advance via the DOC website, especially during the summer, because walking Coast Track is a really popular thing to do! 

Campsite

A tent at the Anchorage Campsite in Abel Tasman National Park, NZ
My trusty tent!

If you fancy sleeping under the stars, you won’t be short of options in Abel Tasman. The park is home to 19 different campsites, most of which are right on the beachfront. 

From October to April, campsites cost $24 NZD per adult and $12 NZD per child per night. However, for New Zealand citizens and residents, the campsites cost $16 NZD per night for adults and are free for under 18s. Meanwhile, from May to November, campsites are free for all under 18s and cost $16 NZD for all adults. 

Here are all the campsites inside Abel Tasman, starting from the southern side of the park closest to Marahau. 

The largest campsite is the Anchorage campsite, which has 50 sites, while the smallest are Anapai Bay and Coquille, which have just 6 spaces. Like the huts, you’ll need to book these in advance

10. What are the best shorter overnight and single-day hikes in Abel Tasman? 

A Stunning beach in Able Tasman National Park
You can visit stunning beaches even on short hikes!

While doing the entire Coast Track is undoubtedly awesome, there are also some amazing shorter hikes available. The entire track is so beautiful that just tackling a portion of it is still a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Abel Tasman. 

We love hiking inside the park, so we’ve listed our top picks for single-day and shorter overnight hikes. These are some of the routes that we do when we don’t have 5 days to walk the entire Coastal Path!

Overnight hike to Torrent Bay

It’s 12.5 kilometers (7.7 miles) from Marahau to Torrent Bay, and it takes about three hours one way without stopping. You definitely will want to stop and make a day of this route, though, since it passes through beautiful Coquille Bay and Anchorage. It’s a really stunning hike and you can stay overnight at either the Torrent Bay campground, which has amazing views of the bay and sandbar, or the Anchorage Hut. 

Overnight or day hike to Akersten Bay campsite

This hike is 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) long, so you can choose to hike from Marahau to Akersten Bay and back in a single day, or to stay overnight at the campsite and head back in the morning. It’s basically the first portion of the hike to Torrent Bay, but instead, it ends in Akersten Bay, which is a super small and secluded beach. The campground only has three sites, so make sure you book it in advance! 

Day hike to Coquille Bay

We think that Coquille Bay is one of the highlights of Abel Tasman National Park, and this short and sweet hike will take you to this gorgeous beach. It’s 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) from Marahau to the bay, so it takes under an hour to walk each way and then you can spend some time relaxing on the beach before heading back. 

Since Coquille Bay is so close to the park entrance, we think this is a great taster hike for those who don’t have a lot of time to explore Abel Tasman, or who just aren’t super confident hikers. 

Day or overnight hike to Whariwharangi Bay

This is the closest route to Wainui Bay, so it’s an ideal day (or single-night) hike if you’re accessing the park from the northern entrance.

The hike from Wainui to Whariwharangi Bay doesn’t take you along the coastline, but rather through the bush, although you will get some amazing views as you head over the Gibbs Hill Saddle. The trail itself is well marked and maintained, so it’s easy to follow, and if you do it at dusk or dawn you’ll even be able to see glow worms in the underbrush! 

It’s 4.6 kilometers (2.9 miles) to get from Wainui to the Whariwharangi Bay hut, so you can do the return hike in a single day or choose to stay overnight. If you choose the latter, you can either stay in the campground, or the historic DOC hut, which was originally built in 1896 (although obviously it’s been restored since then!). There are no cooking facilities in the hut, so remember to bring a portable stove with you. 

11. What are the best tours to Abel Tasman National Park?

Views of Motuareronui Island in Able Tasman NP
Views of Motuareronui Island in Abel Tasman National Park

While exploring the park on your own is totally possible, sometimes it’s nice to have a tour so all the big details are taken care of. Then you can just show up and enjoy! These are our top picks for the best tours of Abel Tasman from Nelson, Kaiteriteri, and Mārahau.

Abel Tasman Day Trip

If you’re short on time but still want to see the most beautiful spots in Abel Tasman National Park, this 6-hour tour is the perfect way to experience this incredible area. It’s a small group tour so there’ll be no more than 11 of you traveling together, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to chat with your guide and ask questions. The guides are all super enthusiastic and friendly, so don’t be shy!

You’ll begin this tour by meeting in Kaiteriteri by the beach so you can get on your way! You’ll cruise around Split Apple Rock, which is an unmissable photo opportunity, and then you’ll stop at Tonga Island Marine Reserve where you’ll have free time to explore the park independently. You can snorkel, go kayaking along the shore, or go hiking along the Pitt Head Loop for beautiful views of circular Te Pukatea Bay. 

This tour costs $390 NZD for adults and $250 NZD for children aged 2-11. The price includes lunch on board the boat, use of snorkeling and kayaking equipment, as well as snacks and bottled water throughout the day.

We like that you get so much freedom in your itinerary with this tour, while still packing a lot of activities into a relatively short space of time. Make sure to reserve a spot online if this day trip sounds perfect for you!

Full-Day Abel Tasman National Park Hiking Tour with Cruise

This full-day hiking tour of Abel Tasman is an amazing way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the park. 

You’ll begin with a relaxing cruise from Kaiteriteri to the heart of the park, with plenty of chances to spot seals and beautiful birds along the way. Then, you’ll begin a 2.5-hour hike through the forest during which your guide will teach you all about the Maori and Dutch heritage of the area, and help you to identify local medicinal and edible plants. After you complete the first hike, you’ll enjoy lunch on Torrent Beach before heading out for another gorgeous 2-hour hike around Torrent Bay. 

This tour costs $479 NZD for adults and $240 NZD for kids aged 6-15 including lunch, hotel pickup, and walking sticks and backpacks if necessary. However, it should be noted that the child rate only applies for kids accompanied by two paying adults. There’s a maximum of 8 people per group so it’s a nice, personal experience and we think booking this tour is perfect for hiking enthusiasts and wildlife lovers

3-Day Unguided Kayaking Tour in Abel Tasman 

Two people kayak in Abel Tasman National Park, NZ
Kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park, NZ

If you’re keen to camp under the stars in Abel Tasman National Park and explore independently, then this 3-day tour is perfect for you. All of your kayaking equipment and campsite bookings are handled for you and included in the $309 NZD price tag, but you won’t have a guide with you so you’ll be free to discover the park at your own pace. All that you’ll need is your own camping equipment! 

On the first day, you have a safety briefing in Mārahau before taking a water taxi to Onetahuti Beach, where your adventure begins. You can spend time exploring the Astrolabe channel before heading to either Observation Beach to Te Pukatea Bay for your first night of camping.

On your second day, you can go kayaking around the stunning Anchorage Bay before heading to either Bark Bay or Mosquito Bay for the night. Then, on your third and final day, you’ll kayak all the way back to Mārahau. 

This tour is amazing for those who love to explore by themselves, rather than in a big tour group, but still want to be provided with campsite bookings and a route that’s easy to follow. It’s basically a structured but independent adventure. You can easily book this experience online with Viator here!

12. Can you stay in Abel Tasman National Park without camping?

A cabin at The Barn on the edge of Abel Tasman National Park
A cabin at The Barn on the edge of Abel Tasman National Park

Yes! As we mentioned earlier, there are 4 different huts in the park if you don’t want to camp. They cost $56 NZD for internationals and $42 NZD for New Zealand residents during the summer, and you can find them at Anchorage, Bark Bay, Awaroa, and Whariwharangi. 

We think the huts are awesome, but they are pretty basic, so if that’s not your thing then there are also some hostels and hotels to choose from in the park. 

The Barn

Whether you’re after a cheap bed in a dorm room, a private room, or even a whole cabin to yourself, The Barn has you covered! It’s in Marahau just steps from the entrance to Abel Tasman, so you really can’t beat the location.

They go above and beyond here to organize transportation for you and there are fun activities like yoga, movie rooms, and even a food truck on-site in the summer! They are lots of great spots to eat outside too or just relax in one of their hammocks!

A bed in the dorm rooms costs around $38 NZD per night while a private room with a shared bathroom starts at $104 NZD. You can check all your options and book online with Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

Torrent Bay Lodge

This is another gorgeous 4-star lodge for those looking for more luxury than a campground or hut can provide. It’s not too swanky and feels super cozy and welcoming. 

There’s a 2-night minimum stay at the Torrent Bay Lodge, which costs around $1,445 NZD for a twin room. You can either arrive via water taxi, or hike from Marahau to Torrent Bay, which is 12.4 kilometers (7.7 miles) long and is actually one of our favorite hikes inside the park! 

Meadowbank Homestead at Awaroa

The Meadowbank Homestead was originally built in 1884 by William Hadfield. Over a century later, Hadfield’s great-granddaughter built a replica of the original property and each room is dedicated to a different member of the family, featuring real diary extracts and photographs to commemorate them. 

William Hadfield chose the spot for the Meadowbank Homestead because of its beautiful views of Awaroa Bay, and there are also lovely flower gardens here for guests to explore. The owners here make guests feel very welcome, and there’s a big communal lounge and dining room where everyone can mingle. 

There’s no road access to Meadowbank Homestead, so you’ll need to arrive via water taxi or hike there! Since Awaroa is pretty far from both Wainui and Marahau, your stay here could be part of a multi-night hiking trip. 

Awaroa Glamping 

We love camping, but sometimes after a long day of walking, it’s just nice to arrive at a tent that has already been set up for you, complete with a comfy mattress and even some basic furniture! Plus, it saves you from carrying a tent with you on your hike. 

Awaroa Glamping is the perfect spot to spend a comfortable night in Awaroa while still staying close to nature. It’s the best of both worlds! Accommodation ranges between $160 and $200 NZD per night, and you can either arrive on foot via the Coast Track or by water taxi if you’re coming straight from Marahau or Totaranui. 

Awaroa Lodge in Abel Tasman NP
Photo credit: Awaroa Lodge

Awaroa Lodge

If you’re feeling something fancier, the Awaroa Lodge is a super secluded 4-star hotel tucked inside the bush. What it lacks in cell phone reception it more than makes up for in excellent facilities, including a spa, a pizzeria, and close proximity to the beautiful Awaroa Beach. 

There’s no road access to the lodge, but you can arrange your arrival by water taxi when you book your stay. Awaroa is smack dab in the middle of the Coast Track, so you can’t really walk there in a single day from Marahau or Wainui, but you could make it an overnight stop on your multi-day trek. 

A standard room at the Awaroa Lodge will cost you between $345 – $480 NZD per night, and the property closes from May until the end of September.

13. Do you need to book your visit to the park in advance?

A beautiful pristien beach in Able Tasman NP
Abel Tasman is one of my favorite beach areas in NZ!

Yes, but it depends on what you plan to do in the park. If you’re just showing up for a day hike, to visit one of the beaches, and explore without staying the night, there is no entry fee to the park and no pre-booking required.

However, if you plan to stay in any hut or campsite along the Coast Track, you should book your visit as far in advance as possible. This is especially true if you’re going to be here between December and February which is the peak season.

Same goes for accommodations and tours to Abel Tasman. As soon as you know your travel dates, book your tour and hotel!

14. How many days do you need to explore Abel Tasman National Park?

Torrent Bay in Abel Tasman National Park
Torrent Bay in Abel Tasman National Park

You can actually experience quite a lot of the park on a day tour, especially if you’re taking a boat cruise or a tour that combines hiking and kayaking. With that being said, we think that it’s best to spend at least one night in the park so that you can spend more time exploring.

And if you can, spending 3-5 days hiking the entire Coast Track is the absolute best way to see the entire park, as the trail will take you from end to end!

15. Can you drink the water in Abel Tasman National Park?

Drinking water with a boil sign at a campsite in Abel Tasman National Park
Bailey along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

There is filtered drinking water available at Anchorage, Bark Bay, Awaroa, and Totaranui. Elsewhere, you can drink the water provided you boil it first, as the official warning dictates. We also recommend taking a water filter with you just in case. After you’ve filtered your water, you can be sure that it’s safe and not going to make you sick! 

16. Is Abel Tasman National Park suitable for children?

The Anchorage Beach at sunset in Abel Tasman National Park, NZ
The Anchorage Beach at sunset in Abel Tasman National Park, NZ

Yes! The trails here are mostly flat so hiking isn’t very dangerous or strenuous, so it’s a great family destination. Of course, you might want to tackle a shorter hike if you’re traveling with young kids or choose friendly family activities, such as kayaking, rather than more extreme ones like skydiving and canyoning. 

Related Read: For more family-friendly activities on the South Island, check out our list of the best free and cheap things to do in Christchurch!

17. Where should you park overnight while in Abel Tasman National Park? 

Parking at The Barn Cabins Camp right near Abel Tasman National Park
Parking at The Barn Cabins Camp right near Abel Tasman National Park

You can park at the public parking spots on either side of the park in Mārahau and Wainui Bay overnight for free. However, there’s no surveillance here so if you’re worried about leaving belongings in your car, then you might be better off paying for overnight parking. 

We always park at The Barn Cabins Camp, which is right at the start of the Coast Track in Mārahau, so it’s super convenient. It costs $5 NZD per night and is much more secure than the free parking, so we feel it’s definitely worth it. And if you’re taking a water taxi into the park, you can actually leave your car here for free! 

18. Is visiting Abel Tasman National Park worth it?

Stunning views of Abel Tasman National Park, NZ
Of course!
Bailey moves a kayak onto the shore in Abel Tasman National Park
It’s about relaxation and adventure!

Yes! It’s an amazing place filled with breathtaking views, beautiful beaches, and so many amazing hikes! There are a ton of adventures to be had here and it really is one of the most beautiful places in the entire country. 

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

Bailey stands in front of a right green JUCY campervan
JUCY is one of my favorite campervan rental companies (read below for a discount code!)
Bailey stands behind her Mad Campers campervan cooking in the kitchen at Piha Beach
I also really like Mad Campers!

Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!

You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:

  • Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
  • Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your JUCY or Star RV campervan or motorhome before the end of June 2024! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy! One thing to note is that this code is only valid for travel before Dec 21, 2024.

Thanks for reading!

Bailey poses for a photo before starting the Abel Tasman Coastal Track in NZ
Thanks for reading!

There you have it, everything you need to know to have your own adventure in Abel Tasman National Park! While conquering the Coast Track is definitely a highlight, even just a short walk through this park will have you immersed in the beauty of this part of New Zealand.

While you plan your New Zealand trip, let me help! I have tons of in-depth guides for destinations on both the North and South Islands, road trip suggestions, and even hotel recommendations on my blog. I hope you have an amazing time exploring New Zealand!

16 Things You NEED to Know Before Renting a Car in New Zealand

12 BEST Things to do in Mapua, New Zealand

10 BEST Tours of New Zealand (Multi-Day Guided Tours)+ How to Pick One!

25 Best Places to Visit on the South Island of New Zealand