The Abel Tasman is beautiful no matter what time of year it is. The summer season in the Abel Tasman starts at the beginning of October and goes through till the end of April. This is a great time to walk the track as the weather is almost always fine and the park is buzzing with life as this is the most popular time for visitors. It never feels overcrowded though as you can go quite a while without running into anybody. If you want to travel around the Christmas and New Year holiday you will want to get in early as bookings for this time of year fill up very fast.
The Abel Tasman is also open during the winter months from May to September and this can also be a great time to visit the park as there are less people around and the weather is usually not too bad.
Depending on your aspirations for the Abel Tasman Walk – both are great ways to go. Our Self-guided trips are fully assisted with a detailed day-to-day itinerary that is easy to follow and provides everything you need to know to make your way along the track. We also give you an arrival briefing before your walk begins including showing you your route on your map, showing you how to get to your accommodations each night, things to be aware of and our favourite places to stop and enjoy. The track is straightforward and as long as you keep to the main track – there is very little chance of losing your way. There is also a great app that you can download to your smart phone or tablet that provides a lot of useful information on the history, wildlife and weather information. It can be downloaded at https://www.janszoon.org/our-work/abel-tasman-phone-app/
Our Guided Trips are special because our guides are passionate about the area and strive to make each trip unique and special. They are knowledgeable about the park and the conditions and together you will discover the beauty of this area. Guides will be able to tell you about the history, local flora and fauna, and point out local wildlife in a relaxed and informative way. They also make great coffee and tea along the track! All our guides carry an extensive first aid kit, radio and are trained to administer first aid. They can also fit you out for walking poles if needed.
We also offer a “Guide for a Day” for those who are still unsure whether to go guided or unguided. This one-day guide will settle you into your walk on the first day while providing all of the above services and making sure you get safely to your first night’s accommodation before leaving you to discover the rest of the Abel Tasman for yourself.
We have two great 4 day trips available for our guests. Our 4 Day Classic Trip – is the same as our 3 Day Classic Trip but with an extra day planned at Awaroa Lodge. We call this extra day a rest day – but it really gives our guests the opportunity to join a guided kayak trip, explore the area’s history, or take short walks if they choose to do so.
Our 4 Day All The Way Trip walks the whole length of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track heading past Totaranui into the less-travelled northern section of the Abel Tasman Track. This section has a rugged beauty about it that must be seen to be appreciated. Hiking along this part of the track is well worth the effort. You’ll spend a night in Golden Bay at Ratanui Lodge where you can enjoy an amazing 3 course meal in their restaurant.
For guests staying in Nelson (or surrounding areas) our regular transport follows a scheduled route starting with the first pick-up at 7:00am in the morning. We send our guests a list of all the accommodations on this scheduled route upon booking and ask our guests to choose one of the accommodations from this list.
For guests staying outside the scheduled route we will provide a map to the closest pick-up point and the time to be there – in some cases this is a short walk and in other cases a taxi ride may be required. Our regular transport arrives back into Nelson at 5:40pm (Nelson Airport) & 5:50pm (Central Nelson). If you are catching a flight out of Nelson and are using our regular transport back to Nelson we recommend flights leaving after 6:15pm to allow you enough time to check in and board your flight on time. If your flight departs earlier we recommend you book a custom shuttle.
Custom Shuttle Service
We provide custom shuttle services at an additional cost to meet guests flying into and leaving from Nelson airport outside our regular scheduled transport times. For example, for those guests flying into Nelson on the start day of their trip and who are unable to get a flight that enables them to catch our regular scheduled transport, we will meet them at the airport and transport them to the start of the track; and vice-versa, for flights leaving before 6:15pm for those guests flying out on the finish date of their trips. Please advise us if this service is required as it needs to be booked in advance.
Guests with Cars
For those guests with cars or access to cars, we recommend you drive to the start of the track in Marahau and use our secure parking facilities there. There is no additional charge for parking and we provide a $40 per adult & $20 per child (under 14 years old) discount on the trip cost for those guests that choose to drive themselves there and back. It is a 1 hour 15 minute drive from central Nelson to the start of the track in Marahau. This provides you with greater flexibility on your start and finishing times without being tied into our regular scheduled transport. Please advise us if you’d like this option.
It is possible to cross the estuaries 1.5 – 2 hours before and 2 hours after low tide. For example if low tide is scheduled for 9:30am in the morning a rough guide is that you’ll be able to safely cross between 7:30am until 11:30am. Expect to get wet up to your knees in parts of the crossings as streams run from the hills and are part of the crossing. You’ll be walking across sand, mud and small stones, or a combination of them all. There are also many shells to walk across that can be broken and sharp – for this reason we recommend water shoes (aqua shoes, crocs or water sandals – jandals, thongs or flip-flops aren’t suitable as the heel part gets bogged down in the mud and becomes stuck or flips mud up your back). In some parts of the world tidal crossings can be dangerous, but if you cross within the recommended times in the Abel Tasman National Park they are perfectly safe, with gradual ebbs and flows of the tides.
The track is graded as intermediate/easier tramping by our friends at DOC, although we’d describe it as easy/moderate. The track can be walked easily with a reasonable amount of fitness. We have the added advantage that most of our trips have luggage transfers included so you’ll just walk with a daypack with your lunch, drink bottle and other essentials. We can also shorten any day with the use of water taxis and land transfers, if you don’t think you can complete the day. We do ask our guests to prepare to walk all the days , as this is the best way to experience the track, and a little adversity will only add to your overall experience and makes the drinks at the end of the day taste even better!
This is a coastal track so most of your time is spent at sea level but there are some ups and downs as the track veers up into the canopy of the forest with some wonderful vistas before dropping back down to another beach.
A good benchmark of whether you’ll go the distance is to get out and start walking some tracks nearby where you live and keep an eye out on the distances covered and how you feel – make sure to include some hills as well! A lot of our guests book months in advance and so have a good lead in time to prepare themselves. The majority of our guests are in their 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s and 80’s so this track is accessible for all. We also have children as young as five (and sometimes younger) walking the track with us. If you can walk for up to 4 hours comfortably with some hills and varied terrain then come and walk the Abel Tasman with us!
You will find established filtered water stations every 10 – 12kms (6 – 7.5 miles) or roughly every 4 hours walking along the Abel Tasman Track. This means you can comfortably walk with a 750ml or 1 litre bottle that you refill along the way. The filtered water stations are located at DoC (Department of Conservation) huts and campsites at Anchorage, Bark Bay, Awaroa, Totaranui and Whariwharangi. All of our accommodations along the track provide clean drinking water as well.
There are many toilets along the track. There are toilets at all campsites and flush toilets every 10 – 12kms (6 – 7.5 miles) or roughly every 4 hours walking that are available to trampers. Smaller campsites have compostable toilets that are often situated a short walk off the main track. Most guests use the flush toilets that are available every 4 hours along the track and plan their day accordingly. It is probably fair to say the flush toilets are nicer to use than the compostable variety and are worth the wait to get to.
What are sandflies? These are known around the world by many different names, for example, midges, sand fleas, etc… These small insects love to bite and leave a very itchy sting in their wake. While moving they don’t bother you, but they will find you when you stop for a rest or are enjoying a special moment on a beautiful beach. There are many insect repellent products available on the market – both Deet based and those with natural ingredients are available. We recommend you bring some with you on your trip. Our guides use 2B Natural Insect Repellent that can be bought locally in Nelson or Marahau. More info on their website: http://2b.kiwi.nz/
We keep a close eye on weather reports and liaise with DoC (the Department of Conservation) who are responsible for managing the track and keeping us advised of any severe weather situations or closures. Generally speaking the track is well-maintained and it takes a major weather calamity to occur before DoC will close the track. We do urge our guests to carry on as planned during inclement weather as in New Zealand we do have a saying that “If you don’t like the weather now, wait 10 minutes…” meaning it does change often and quite quickly in some cases. We also find some rain does not reduce the beauty of the area and you do get a real feel of being in something that keeps New Zealand looking beautiful – rain. We also have the unique opportunity to utilise water taxis to take you to the next destination on particularly bad rainy days.
The water temperature fluctuates from about 18 Celsius (65 Fahrenheit) to about 22 Celsius (72 Fahrenheit) throughout the summer months. We describe it as “refreshing” and during the hotter summer months is a great way to cool off and refresh yourself along the track. At Anchorage there is a floating pontoon (swimming platform) moored off the beach for those keen swimmers to swim out to. You’ll have access to most beaches and will be able to swim at a few along the way. This is a great way to enrich your Abel Tasman experience.
We strive to provide great food for all our guests. By providing us with your dietary requirements early on (upon booking with us) we can inform our catering services and make the necessary arrangements. We have received positive feedback from our guests about the great lengths we have gone to provide delicious food for those requiring special diets.
No, walking poles are not required. However, poles do provide great stability especially when going downhill on the steeper sections of the track. There is a lot of research that says you will save quite a bit of energy over the day when using 2 walking poles. Abel Tasman Guides can provide you with walking poles if required (please let us know beforehand) and it is very easy to get the hang of it – even if you have never used walking poles before.
This track is regarded as an ‘easy’ track and can be done in running shoes (trainers, sneakers etc) without having to use specialised hiking boots. The track is very well maintained and some of our guests even opt for wearing sports sandals (sandals with support strap across the back of the heel) part way or interchanging with running shoes and sports sandals when needed along the track. We do say to guests with well worn-in hiking boots that they feel comfortable in, that it is perfectly okay to walk the track in these and you’ll see many people on the track in hiking boots. There are a couple of places along the track where you’ll be required to cross tidal estuaries and we strongly recommend the use of water shoes (crocs, sports sandals etc) for these as there are sharp shells and small stones that can cut bare feet. Jandals (flip-flops or thongs) are not recommended as they get bogged down in the muddy parts of the crossing.
Unless you are on our Backpacker Basic trip where you carry all your gear with you, our trips include your overnight bag being boated around to your next night’s accommodation. We allow for 1 bag per person of around 10kgs (22 pounds) which are labelled when you check in at Marahau. The bags are then boated around to your accommodations and put in your rooms/tents awaiting your arrival. This leaves you to walk just with your daypack – containing your lunch, camera, water, sunscreen etc. We do offer luggage storage for those guests with additional luggage – for example that exceeds the 10kg (22 pounds) limit. Please contact us directly if you’d like to arrange this. We also provide all of our guests with suitably sized duffel bags that you can use for the duration of your trip if you do not have your own. We drop these off to your accommodation the night before your trip so you can pack and be ready for your pick up in the morning.
There are certain points along the track that you’ll be able to get cell phone coverage – but on the whole these are few and far between. During the peak summer months one of the cellular networks puts a booster station in Marahau which increases the coverage zone, but again once on the track don’t expect too much coverage. Our guides put their phones on airplane mode to save the battery going flat too quickly – especially since we can’t always charge our devices at Anchorage and have to use them for two days straight. Wifi is available at Awaroa Lodge and Awaroa Glamping – for heavy usage at these places you’ll have to purchase additional data packages. There are certain points along the track where wifi is available for use with the Abel Tasman App http://www.education.janszoon.org/project-janszoon-park-app/ to get up to date weather reports and tide timetables. We think this is a great app and all our guides have it on their phones and recommend our guests download it too.
Phone charging can be a bit tricky in the National Park as most of the power generated comes from Solar Panels. This means there is usually only enough power for lighting. There are charging stations at Anchorage Campsite however these are very popular and it is sometimes hard to find a spare spot. Awaroa Lodge and Ratanui Lodge have power points in all their rooms for you to use if you have your own charger.
We recommend putting your phone into flight mode while on the track to save your battery. We also recommend bringing a power bank with you which will allow you to charge your phone while on the track.