Abel Tasman Coastal Trek
Located in one of New Zealand’s smallest national parks, you will very quickly understand why the Abel Tasman Track has gained its reputation as one of the countries most popular as you walk through lush coastal vegetation, past golden beaches with azure waters and spectacular granite cliffs. The Abel Tasman National Park is a haven for nature and beach lovers; its beaches are stunning – in fact it is of popular consensus that they are among the best in the whole country. And the bonus? They are mostly all accessible only by foot or kayak – which means these pristine patches of paradise are secluded and come with no crowds!
Travelling self-guided allows you to walk along the trail in your own time, making your way between accommodations. Luggage transfers are included on all walking days, meaning you will only need to take your daypack with you each day. You will walk without a guide, and while you won’t need advanced orienteering skills, you should be comfortable in reading a map, referring to route notes and independently navigating your way along this trail. This requires individuals to use problem-solving skills, be adaptable plus have a keen eye.The freedom of a self-guided trip is something that, once experienced, is sought time and again.
Get Ready For
- Pack-free self-guided hiking along one of New Zealand’s most popular trails
- Excellent boutique lodges along the trail and delicious locally produced meals
- Relax on a scenic cruise along the length of the Abel Tasman coast
- Explore Idyllic beaches, coves and inlets along the coast
On the trail
Our New Zealand trip uses private boutique lodges in amazing locations of natural surroundings of forest and beach, often only accessible by foot or boat. In Abel Tasman NP we stay in some beautiful beachfront lodges where you will enjoy delicious 3-course dinners sourced from environmentally responsible local providers, before retiring to your room to fall asleep to the sound of the waves.
All daily distances are approximate and this itinerary is subject to change. RAW Travel reserves the right to make necessary itinerary changes based on local conditions, group safety, extreme weather or unforeseen difficulties with local suppliers due to the effects of COVID-19.
Arrive into Nelson and make your way to your centrally located accommodation. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this evening when you will meet RAW Travel’s local guide for a briefing. Here you will be supplied with your lodge bag to pack your gear for the trek and your guide will assist you with what you need to take. Following your guide will provide you with suggestions for where to head for dinner.
Nelson (Whakatū) is a lively town located on the Tasman Bay and renowned for its art scene – from traditional Maori to contemporary. It is highly recommended you stay for a few nights before or after your walk to explore the area. You can visit one of the many galleries, or shop for local crafts and some presents to take home with you. Try some delicious local produce and if you like a tipple, you can visit the home of the hops or see why National Geographic dubbed it the Top Cider City in the world! From vineyards to breweries, orchards to art galleries and boutique shops the options are endless.
Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson
Early this morning you will be collected from your hotel and transferred via a scenic coastal drive to Kaiteriteri, a beautiful little beach town and gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. As you drive past picturesque vineyards to one side and golden sandy beaches with aqua blue waters to the other, you will get a taste of what you can expect on your hike through the Abel Tasman National Park in the coming days.
In Kaiteriteri you will board a boat for a relaxing cruise along the length of the Abel Tasman coast to Totaruanui. For the next hour and 40 minutes, sit back on the deck and watch the beaches, coves and islands of this spectacular stretch of coastline pass you by. You will cruise through the crystal clear waters of Tonga Island Marine Reserve, a wildlife haven where you might see little blue penguins, bottlenose dolphins and seals frolicking, before arriving at Totaranui and the start of your tramping adventure.
It all begins with a hike through an area of native forest and coastal scrub, weaving in and out to some tranquil beaches – such as Goat Bay which will have you feeling like you have stepped onto the shores of a caribbean paradise. It’s a relatively short walking day today that includes a river crossing at the Awaroa Estuary. It’s important to be aware of the tides for this section.
This evening you will stay in the first of your beachfront lodges where you will enjoy a delicious 3 course dinner, before retiring to your room to fall asleep to the sound of the waves.
Meals: B, L, D
Accommodation: Meadowbank Homestead at Awaroa
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the beautiful garden setting that looks out across the bay, before you set off for the day. Today’s walk is spectacularly scenic as you head deeper into the National Park through lush forest, interspersed with coastal views and beach walks alongside the Tonga Island Marine Reserve.
Leaving Awaroa you will ascend up and over the Tonga Saddle to Onetahuti Bay. Here, one of the longest expanses of beach in the Abel Tasman stretches before you in a crescent shape. Picture a long pristine beach separating crystal clear, brilliant blue waters from dense green mountainous forest backdrop – simply stunning!
Part of the walk here is along a boardwalk and bridge designed for conservation purposes by the local Iwi (Maori tribe) who have a strong connection to the area, as well as to assist with crossing the estuary during all tides. In particular, of significance is Tonga Island which sits in a prominent position offshore and is home to a colony of fur seals. It is worth spending some time exploring Tonga Quarry where there are still some remnants of the granite which used to be quarried there, before being shipped to Nelson.
The track then meanders through fern gullies and tall Manuka forests before a steep climb up and down to Bark bay. As you descend down, the track passes a cascading waterfall which you can view from a sturdy swing bridge. Bark Bay also called Wairima, is an idyllic place for your picnic lunch, offering sunshine for much of the year. As you relax in the shade, or perhaps with your feet cooling in the water, listen out for the calls of the Kaka – a colourful forest-dwelling parrot that was near extinction before being released in 2019 as part of a conservation effort. If you are lucky you might even see one!
Following lunch you will walk through more groves of manuka and fern, before crossing the impressive 40 metre long swing bridge at Falls River – a highlight for most hikers. The track continues with steady climbs up and over two valleys before a steep descent to the sleepy summer holiday village of Torrent Bay, and your second beachfront lodge accommodation for the night.
Meals: B, L, D
Accommodation: Torrent Bay Lodge
Another morning waking to the sound of the ocean and breakfast with a view!
Your final walk today is the easiest, with the trail gently meandering towards Marahau. Along the way you will have panoramic views across the Tasman Bay towards Nelson – and your final destination at the end of the day.
The first section will be greatly determined by the tide – either around or across the inlet. The track then continues winding through small gullies, along streams and through lush beech forest.
You will pass a number of sheltered bays and beaches, and we recommend you choose one to stop at for your picnic lunch.
The last section will have you walking through some open country before finishing with a few boardwalk crossings over the Marahau estuary and into Marahau settlement. You will meet your transport to take you back to Nelson, via Kaiteriteri, arriving approximately 6pm.
Alternatively you may wish to stay in Marahau, a sleepy little beach village which has a long history of settlement by Māori. Its huge expanse of beach, particularly at low tide offers many activities such as horseback riding along the beach, kayaking or just relaxing and enjoying the mild climate. Fuel up by one of the excellent food options – from a world-famous burger to fresh seafood waterfront dining.
Note: Your distance walked today is dependent on the tides.
Meals: B, L
The city of Nelson is known for local arts and crafts stores, and art galleries. It’s a popular base for nearby caving sites, vineyards and the Abel Tasman National Park.
CLICK ON A PIN TO REVEAL INFORMATION ABOUT THAT LOCATION
Kaiteriteri is a beautiful little beach town and gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. From here, you’ll enjoy a relaxing cruise along the length of the Abel Tasman Coast to Totaruanui. Sit back on the deck and watch the beaches, coves and islands of this spectacular stretch of coastline pass you by.
Awaroa beach is tucked away in the northern reaches of the Abel Tasman National Pak. Part of the beach’s charm lies in its isolation – you have to make an effort to enjoy the splendour.
Crescent-shaped Onetahuti Bay is of the longest expanses of beach in the Abel Tasman. Picture a pristine beach separating crystal clear, brilliant blue waters from dense green mountainous forest backdrop – simply stunning!
The sleepy summer holiday village of Torrent Bay has the largest concentration of privately owned beach houses (baches) in the Abel Tasman National Park.
Mārahau is a sleepy little beach village which has a long history of settlement by Māori. Its huge expanse of beach offers many activities. Fuel up by one of the excellent food options – from a world famous burger to fresh seafood waterfront dining.
- 2 nights boutique lodge accommodation with private ensuite
- 1-night hotel in Nelson
- Briefing with experienced local guide
- RAW Travel’s exclusive interactive navigation app and track notes
- Scenic cruise along the length of the spectacular Abel Tasman coast.
- 3 breakfasts (full cooked and continental)
- 3 excellent picnic lunches (local produce) while on trek
- 2 dinners: 3-course lodge dinners sourced from environmentally responsible providers
- Hot drinks and fruit juice at your trek lodge accommodation
- Snacks and fresh fruit on trek
- Luggage transfers and luggage storage
- Lodge luggage bag (yours to keep) – 40 litre, sports-bag style with waterproof liner
- Boat backup along the trail
- Transport between Nelson to Kaiteriteri and Marahau to Nelson
- 15% NZ GST
- Carbon offset for your trip and for every walk, we plant an indigenous tree on your behalf
- Flights to/from destination
- Nelson Airport transfers (options available please contact us)
- Travel insurance
- Meals not stated in the itinerary
- Alcoholic drinks and carbonated soft drinks at the lodges
- Expenses and items of a personal nature
- Single supplement: please enquire, limited single rooms available
PICTON TO NELSON
If you want to transfer to the Queen Charlotte Track after completing your Abel Tasman walk, you have two options. A standard direct bus journey from Nelson to Picton takes about 2¼ hours. You will need to make your own way to/from the bus stop at each end. We also offer a unique shuttle service that takes about 6 hours. It is more of a private tour, with flexible lunch and sightseeing opportunities along the way, such as historic Havelock (pictured). It’s operated by experienced trampers and you can ask them pretty much any question about your destination. This service is an additional $175pp (based on 4 people) travelling together but is well worth it.
Hiking really is the best way to see the beautiful landscapes and explore the vast wilderness of New Zealand’s South Island. With exceptionally well-maintained trails, easy access, and the absence of dangerous wildlife it is a hikers’ paradise. Add world-class seafood, top-notch wines and boutique lodges, and it really is the perfect destination. Find out everything you need to know in this comprehensive destination guide.
A wonderful walk that beautifully connected us to place and nature. The reward for our effort was the spectacular vistas on the track and amazing accommodation at the end of each day. The secluded beachfront lodges were spacious and very comfortable. And every meal was top notch.
Vicki Foote, Everard Park (SA) – October 2023
Wonderful walks, well managed, good accommodation and meals. Really enjoyed it. We were very lucky with the weather. The scenery was glorious and it wasn’t too busy. The local operators were really good.
Catherine & Matthew Gibney, Lake Wendouree (VIC) – October 2023
Amazing experience. So well organised. Everything I could have hoped for. Our local contact Phil was exceptional and very knowledgeable about our surroundings.
Jan Kingh, Christchurch (NZ) - May 2023
It was a beautiful walk each day. I enjoyed the contrast between the lush rainforest and the beautiful beaches with clear water.
Anne Bowtell, Cockatoo (VIC) - March 2023
Excellent experience. Enjoyable and easy walking; all of the accommodation was comfortable and of a high standard.
Valerie Smith, Lucaston (TAS) - March 2023
Need to know?
The Abel Tasman coastal track is an intermediate trail which is mostly well formed, meandering through dense native forest, along lush gullies and beside streams. At regular intervals the trail leads you to some idyllic secluded beaches, coves and inlets which will involve a bit of beach walking.
Some sections may be muddy or rough, and while there are some boardwalks and suspension bridge crossings over most major waterways, there are some sections that require knowledge of the tides to complete the section. The trail is steep in areas with some climbs, however they don’t feel too steep or long.
We have graded the Abel Tasman Coastal Track as a moderate walk and so a good level of fitness is ideal, preferably with some multi-day trekking experience. There are some ascents and descents over uneven terrain, along with some clay soil paths which can be slippery underfoot after any rain. There are also some sand walking and tide crossings. Training and preparing on hills with your equipment (particularly with the footwear you’ll use on the hike!), and walking several hours over varied terrain (4-7 hours a day), will help prepare you. The better prepared you are, the more you will enjoy this beautiful walk.
This region of New Zealand is renowned for its quality food and drink – the consistently sunny region combined with fertile land, produces delicious goods from cheese, conserves/honey, berries and olive oils through to alcoholic beverages (wine, beer and the world class cider). On this trip you will get to experience some gastronomical delights as you walk.
Breakfast is included daily (cooked or continental) and you will get a packed lunch to take with you on each day’s walk, which includes food such as Ploughman’s sandwich (roll, croissant or wrap), fresh fruit, quiche, muffin/banana bread, salad, cheese and crackers, trail mix, energy bars, free range hard boiled eggs and so on. On days where you have a free day at the lodge, you may be treated to a classic Kiwi barbecue prepared by the chef.
Your lodge dinners on the Abel Tasman are three-course meals sourced from environmentally responsible local providers and on the Queen Charlotte you will experience more high-quality food accompanied by a glass of Marlborough wine.
At the lodges you also have the following available to help yourself; Fresh fruit, homemade biscuits, fruit juice, hot drinks including Nelson organic loose-leaf teas and fair trade coffee & hot chocolate.
Most dietary requirements can be catered for, please ensure you discuss your requirements with your consultant at the time of booking.
The Tasman region of New Zealand is fortunate to be one of the country’s sunniest areas making it a perfect year round destination. Even in winter, though cooler in temperatures, you will often find you are walking under blue skies and sunshine.
If you are particularly keen to do some swimming along the Coastal Track, then the warmer months are best – though trying to avoid the summer school holidays will be more enjoyable along the trail.
It can be quite windy on the coast but rainfall is quite evenly distributed throughout the year and so repeated days of rain are pretty rare. Although Summer time is the most popular season to visit the national park, the locals firmly believe that the shoulder months of Spring and Autumn are the optimum periods in which to visit. During these months the crisp, cool mornings along with calm ocean waters and quiet beaches will equate to a wonderfully peaceful and serene experience.
RAW Travel supports and welcomes solo travellers. We understand travelling alone can sometimes be a daunting prospect however New Zealand is regarded as a very safe destination and the trails are well signed, though it is good to keep in mind that at certain times of year there will be few people on the trail and there may be little or no mobile coverage. Our self-guided walking holidays are for experienced walkers who prefer to be independent. Walking self-guided requires you to use your problem-solving skills, be comfortable with reading maps and have a good sense of direction. You will be fully briefed by our local guide on arrival and the staff at the accommodation along the way are extremely helpful and friendly also. Prices are based on 2 people sharing twin share, so a solo price is available on request. Please enquire with your consultant at the time of booking for further details.
Social and environmental
All our adventures are fully carbon offset so that you know your travel has minimal impacts. Hiking itself is a low impact activity but we offset the cost of all our office operations and food production as well, so you can be satisfied that you have chosen a form of travel that is both good for you and good for the planet. Each year we also plant trees on behalf of every customer who has travelled with us, aiming to build towards a carbon positive effect with our operations.
TRIP date selection
when would you like to travel?
Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed