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!
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.
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.
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. 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.
Check the video that I made here:
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 Pitts 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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. A full blog is coming up soon, you can find my old post here. 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!
Conclusion and disclaimer
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.
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