Oh New Zealand, you really don’t make it easy for us. Again one of those places where you actually need a lot more time than you planned. With its golden sandy bays, sparkling blue water and pristine, lush hinterland, the Abel Tasman National Park in the north of the South Island is rightly one of the most visited national parks in New Zealand.
One of the so-called Great Walks, the nine most famous and popular hikes in New Zealand meanders through the Abel Tasman National Park. Abel Tasman Coast Track is the name of the hike that totals over 50 kilometers along the coast through the national park. You need several days for the entire route. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for that, so we simply did a day hike in the Abel Tasman National Park. So much in advance: Even for just a few hours, a trip to this beautiful national park is worthwhile.
1. This is what awaits you in the Abel Tasman National Park Small, but powerful: The Abel Tasman National Park is the smallest national park in New Zealand in terms of area. But once you’re in the park, you honestly don’t notice it. On the contrary: We had the feeling of being very, very close to isolated nature .
This is mainly due to the fact that the individual stops along the hiking trail can only be reached via the waterway . No roads, no cars, just nature. More than three quarters of the national park consists of forest. Parts of the hinterland are very hilly: The highest elevation is at least 1. 60 meters in altitude.
The Abel Tasman National Park is also famous for its golden sandy beaches and tiny bays. From the main stretch of the track, small side paths usually lead you directly to the bays.
Best time of year to visit Abel Tasman National Park The good news: The climate in the Abel Tasman National Park is very mild. It is said that New Zealand enjoys the most hours of sunshine per year here. So far we have been to the Abel Tasman National Park twice in New Zealand summer (January and February) and were really lucky: bright sunshine and good 25 Centigrade. The water is also warm enough in the summer months so that nothing stands in the way of a dip in the sea. Of course, as everywhere in New Zealand, exceptions prove the rule. About a week after our visit, there was a bad weather front with quite a drop in temperature.
Let’s get to the bad news in terms of summer: Summer in New Zealand is also the peak travel season. Unfortunately, you can forget about the fact that you will be all alone on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. On the hiking trail itself, we didn’t notice the many travelers as much as in the bathing bays or the campsites.
If you want to swim against the current, then a visit off the high season may be suitable for you. Here, however, you have to be prepared for more adverse weather conditions. However, even in winter it doesn’t get really cold. In winter, the maximum daily temperatures are usually around 13 Centigrade.
Tip: Our travel guides for the Abel Tasman National Park We can recommend these two travel guides for your journey through New Zealand and to the Abel Tasman National Park.
Stefan Loose Travel Guide New Zealand At our On our first trip through New Zealand we had Stefan Loose’s New Zealand travel guide with us. It has been researched in great detail and is therefore relatively difficult. But we are happy to accept this small disadvantage.
You can buy the travel guide here: Stefan Loose travel guide New Zealand
Lonely Planet New Zealand We can confirm: One the most popular New Zealand travel guide among tourists is that of Lonely Planet. It is slightly more compact and therefore lighter than the Loose travel guide.
You can buy the guide in English here: Lonely Planet Travel Guide New Zealand You can buy the travel guide in German here: Lonely Planet Travel Guide New Zealand
2. Our daily route along the Abel Tasman Coast Track Access to Abel Tasman National Park: Tue Water taxis The Abel Tasman National Park is a nature reserve. From the “entrance” of the park you can either only go to Walk or take a water taxi to your desired destination in the national park.
Most visitors use the southern entrance to Abel Tasman National Park. Marahau is the last place before the national park. A few kilometers further south is Kaiteriteri – a fairly touristy place with some accommodation, a seaside promenade and a campsite. We were surprised how crowded Kaiteriteri was in the height of summer. One of the reasons for this is that many New Zealanders travel to the beach in Kaiteriteri during their holidays (January).
There are several water taxi companies. Some start from Kaiteriteri, some from Marahau and some from both places – like that also the boats from AquaTaxi, which we chose. With AquaTaxi you can book one-way trips (e.g. because you want to be taken all the way north to the starting point of the Great Walk). On the other hand, you can choose between many combined trips: Here a boat takes you to the desired starting point of your hike and picks you up a few hours later from another destination. Pretty cool: There are also combined hiking and kayaking tours. Due to time constraints, however, we have limited ourselves to hiking.
If you want to do a day hike in the Abel Tasman National Park, you have exactly two options:
Option 1 (we’ve already done it, but it’s not really recommended): You walk from the southern entrance in Marahau as far north as you like and then back again.
Option 2 (our recommendation): You book at least one ride (or better a combined ride) with a water taxi.
Our route: From Torrent Bay to Bark Bay The question of all questions: Which section of the Abel Tasman National Park is the most beautiful for a day hike? Unfortunately we have to disappoint you: We cannot answer this question for you. Because: First of all, we don’t know the entire route of the Abel Tasman Coast Track. And: We spoke to several people on site who confirmed to us that it is difficult the most beautiful route because each section has its own peculiarities.
Call it gut feeling Whether pressed for time or in a quandary: for some reason we decided to hike from Torrent Bay to Bark Bay. We believe that the suspension bridge, that you pass on this route was decisive for our decision.
The pure hiking time for this route is about three hours, whereby this time is calculated very generously. If you walk fast and take few breaks, you can do it much faster.
The path itself is very easy to walk. There are no notable gradients, but really great views of tiny, golden bays. Again and again you will come across junctions that lead you down to the bays.
You can choose the pick-up time from Bark Bay yourself from several options . We were happy to take a little more time and therefore chose a later time. So we could lie on the beach a bit longer and enjoy nature.
The Split Apple Rock If there is a attraction in Abel Tasman National Park, it is Split Apple Rock. The name says it all: About 50 Meters offshore is this rock formation that looks like a split apple.
Split Apple Rock is offshore between Marahau and Kaiteriteri and attracts countless visitors. The benefit of booking a ride with AquaTaxi: All boats (including those from Marahau) will take you to Split Apple Rock and stop for a few minutes so you can take a picture. Our boat driver then took us to another spot where we could see free-living seals . Only then did we head for Torrent Bay.
3. Overnight at Abel Tasman National Park Most day trippers look for accommodation in Kaiteriteri. This is not the closest place to the entrance of the national park (that would be Marahau), but the one with the larger tourist infrastructure. In Kaiteriteri you will find some motels, a campsite, a boardwalk and a few sandy beaches. In the summer months (December, January) Kaiteriteri gets very crowded. One of the reasons for this is that many Kiwis spend their holidays here. We were surprised at how busy Kaiteriteri was.
We decided to look for accommodation in Nelson and do the day trip to Abel Tasman National Park from there. Nelson is almost exactly an hour’s drive from Marahau. So we left in the morning and were back in Nelson in the late afternoon. Two hours in the car was absolutely fine for us. In Nelson you definitely have the largest choice of accommodation in the region.
We can highly recommend our accommodation in Nelson: The Quest Nelson is a modern, centrally located apartment hotel with a very good price-performance ratio. The bed was particularly comfortable and we even had a washing machine in our apartment.
You can book the apartment here: Quest Nelson
4. More New Zealand Travel Reports Our itinerary through New Zealand Our most beautiful day hikes in New Zealand Christchurch: Sights & Tips Lake Tekapo: Our Tips Dunedin & Otago Pensinsula The Catlins : Our Highlights Helicopter flight over Queenstown Wanaka: Hike to Roy’s Peak Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. Great thing, isn’t it? A thousand thanks from both of us!
At some point we really want the whole n Abel Tasman Coast Track. Has anyone of you already done this? Or did you “just” go on a day trip to the Abel Tasman National Park? Which route did you hike? We look forward to your comment!