The Abel Tasman Coastal Track can be walked in either direction, and usually takes 3 days. Many hikers choose to add a rest day either at Awaroa or Anchorage to explore some of the many side tracks or to include a sea kayak or seal experience.
The Track is very easily accessed from the southern end, beginning at Marahau (around one hours drive from Nelson) on the boundary of the Abel Tasman National Park. Most walkers begin at Marahau, though depending on tides, some begin at the northern end of the track, at Totaranui.
Along the track are some of New Zealand’s most iconic coastal vistas, seducing us with golden sand beaches, the pure azure blue of the sea and myriad of native forest colours and textures.
Between the beaches we enter headlands of regenerating native beech/podocarp/broadleaf forest mix and are rewarded by superb panoramic scenes.
The basic track from Marahau to Totoranui is 41.4kms long, and we can also take many side trips to secluded bays, viewpoints and pools to complete your Abel Tasman experience.
Some of the most picturesque scenes await us at the accommodations we have chosen along the way – with time to linger on the beach, have a swim and soak up the beauty.
RECOMMENDED 3-DAY ITINERARY
|Day 1||Marahau to Anchorage/Torrent Bay|
|Day 2||Anchorage/Torrent Bay – Awaroa Inlet|
|Day 3||Awaroa Inlet to Totaranui|
Approx 4 hours walking time – 12.4kms
Beginning at the Dept. of Conservation office in Marahau, the track starts out over a causeway across tidal areas – and immediately the famous golden sands become obvious. The track then passes through regenerating native forest offering tantalising glimpses of the many beaches and Tasman Bay stretching over to D’Urville Island in the distance.
One of these, Apple Tree Bay is a must to visit, perfect for getting into the beach mode and walking barefoot in the sand. A little later the track ascends through regenerating native forest to it highest point of the day (around 100m). Magnificent views of the Astrolabe Roadstead and the wonderful Adele & Fishermans Islands dominate the scene.
From here the track descends into the crescent shaped Anchorage Bay, and after passing a freshwater lagoon bursts out onto the perfect beach – for the final few hundred meters of the day!
Most people stay in this area as there is a Dept of Conservation hut and campground as well as other water and land based accommodations. It is the perfect place to end the day.
Filtered water is available at accommodations.
Bathrooms available at Marahau, Apple tree Bay and Anchorage.
Approx 8 hours walking time – 23.5kms
The day begins with a beautiful beach walk followed by crossing the Torrent Bay inlet to the little settlement of Torrent Bay. Here some lucky New Zealanders have built baches (holiday cabins) to holiday in this remote spot.
At the northern end of Torrent Bay the track climbs – offering views of the terrain just travelled, and continuing through various microclimates of regenerating native forest before almost unexpectedly coming to Falls River – the largest in the park. A swing bridge high above the river affords views up the rugged ravine it has forged out of the granite and down to the tidal inlet, beach & sea. The track ascends a little more ascending before descending down to Medlands Bay and on to Bark Bay. Here we skirt the edge of the tidal inlet and ascend to the highest point on the whole track (around 135m). From this viewpoint, we drop into Tonga Quarry, the long abandoned granite mining area, and its beach, with Tonga Island on the horizon. It’s not long before we arrive on one of the longest beaches, Onatahuti, a really special place to meander along. At the northern end of the bay there is another tidal crossing and the last ascent of the day, through manuka and tree fern forests, before the descent to Awaroa Inlet. The golden sand beach and inlet at Awaroa are beautiful and well worth an afternoon explore – birdlife and early European history abound here, in an area fringed by that regenerating native forest.
A number of accommodation options are available on the south side of Awaroa Inlet.
Filtered water available at accommodation, Bark Bay and Awaroa.
Bathrooms available at Torrent Bay, Medlands Bay, Bark Bay, Tonga Quarry, Onatahuti & Awaroa.
Approx 2 hours walking time – 5.5kms
Tide-permitting, we start the day across the huge tidal Awaroa Inlet, with its shellfish beds and streams, before crossing to Pound Gully on the northern side of the inlet. (Awaroa inlet is the largest in the park and can only be traversed 2 hours each side of low tide – there is no high tide track.) Continuing our discovery of New Zealand’s native forests, the track ascends through virgin forest with huge podocarp and beech trees before descending to Waiharakeke Bay. Crossing the headland brings us into another microclimate where huge rata trees, with their famous red flowers, hang precariously on the steep rocky outcrops. The headland after Goat Bay has one of the best view points on the whole track with our destination, the golden beach of Totoranui stretching out in the distance.
Totaranui is accessible by road from Golden Bay, and there is a large campground as we exit the Abel Tasman Coastal Track.
Water taxis service Totaranui frequently to take us back to Marahau, viewing from the sea what we have just spent the last 3 days walking through, and so completing this unique New Zealand journey.
Filtered water available at accommodation and Awaroa.
Bathrooms available at Awaroa, Waiharakeke & Totaranui.