Explore Abel Tasman National Park
Just 18 mins from Awatea Tasman Bay!
Picturesque Coastline Nelson to Abel Tasman National Park
The journey from the City of Nelson into the north western region of Golden Bay and the Abel Tasman National Park is truly spectacular. There are two scenic routes to Motueka and thence to Abel Tasman National Park; one will take you through Upper Moutere, known for its history, vineyards and artists, while the other will take you via the Ruby Coast Scenic Drive through Mapua and its quiet waterside setting, then along Tasman Bay to Motueka.
Here the beautiful coastline is famous for clear blue waters and pristine golden sand beaches. The Abel Tasman National Park can be explored by guided walks, sea kayak, cruise boat, water taxi or freedom walking – experience penguins, seals, dolphins and native birds all set in lush native forest and beautiful beaches. The Abel Tasman National Park is easily reached from Kaiteriteri or Marahau by water taxi.
Top Destination for New Zealand
The Motueka region, blessed by nature as a destination which offers almost everything, is not to be missed in any tour of New Zealand. Abel Tasman National Park and the surrounding area is a top destination for things to see and do in New Zealand.
The region is easily accessible, being one and half hours drive from Picton, the gateway to the South Island via Cook Strait, or 6 hours drive from Christchurch, and is well served by regular daily flights from all over New Zealand.
Stay in Boutique Accommodation for Abel Tasman National Park
The boutique accommodation at Awatea Tasman Bay is ideally situated to Motueka, being an easy 10 minute drive on sealed roads from the Motueka township. As such, it is a perfect base for all of the activities of the Nelson region, as it is only minutes from Kaiteriteri and its beautiful beaches, or a short drive to Upper Moutere and its vineyards, as well as offering easy access to many scenic drives through the Motueka, Riwaka, and Moutere River Valleys.
Walking the Abel Tasman Coastal Track
To walk the entire length of the Abel Tasman National Park Coastal Track would take several days, with having to camp out for each night. But if you don’t have several days, then choose one of the popular day walks.
Guests, who have stayed at Awatea Tasman Bay’s boutique accommodation, highly recommend the day walk (of about 4 hours) that is between Medlands Bay and Anchorage – in either direction, north or south. This section of the Coastal Track has varied and interesting sights, including the Falls River swing bridge. If you are not feeling quite so energetic, or want time to picnic on a beautiful beach, then the shorter scenic circular walk from Anchorage to Pitt Head, Pitt Head to Te Pukatea Bay, and then back to Anchorage might be a good option. This shorter walk takes about 2 hours. You can also walk from Anchorage to Cleopatra’s Pool and back.
Remember that you need to take your own water and food out into the National Park and that there is no mobile telephone coverage! There are toilets available at several locations maintained by the New Zealand Government Department of Conservation, so visit their website for more details on the facilities available in the Abel Tasman National Park.
Getting Out into Abel Tasman National Park
Book a Water Taxi
It is very easy to get yourself out into the Abel Tasman National Park and enjoy walking part of the Coastal Track. The most popular option is to catch a water taxi from Kaiteriteri Beach out to one of the golden bays in Abel Tasman National Park and begin your walk. Then later in the day, perhaps after about 4 hours, catch a water taxi back to Kaiteriteri Beach.
When you stay at Awatea Tasman Bay’s boutique accommodation, you only have to dive for about 18 minutes (12km) to get to Kaiteriteri Beach. This is where a number of water taxis depart from. Departure times from Kaiteriteri Beach vary, but are generally around 9.00am, 10.30am, 12.40pm, 2.30pm, and 4.15pm. It is best to check the timetable of the company you are interested in using, and here are some to consider:
- Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle abeltasmanseashuttles.co.nz
- Aqua Taxi www.aquataxi.co.nz
- Wilsons Abel Tasman www.abeltasman.co.nz : walking, guided sea kayaking, water transport in Abel Tasman National Park
The water taxi companies offer different tour packages, that include cruising around sights such as Spilt Apple Rock, Fisherman & Adele Islands, and all the way north to Totaranui. They can also provide lunch, and both Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle & Wilsons have a small café on board their larger vessels.
If you are going to walk in the park, booking a return water taxi fare is the best option (to make sure that there is space on board for you to come back!) and start from around $75 per person. Or if you only want to cruise from Kaiteriteri Beach to Bark Bay and back (staying onboard the whole time), Wilsons and Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle both have an afternoon cruise that is around $60 per person.
Another option available is to charter a boat so that you can set the schedule and places you’d like to see in Abel Tasman National Park and other parts of Tasman Bay. Abel Tasman Charters can help you with this option!
Small Group Tours
If you are interested in knowing much more about the New Zealand wildlife and flora, choosing a guided tour of the Abel Tasman National Park is a great option. Abel Tasman Eco Tours is one company that offers this type of tour and even makes a donation from every tour ticket to conservation efforts in Abel Tasman National Park! We can recommend the Golden Future Boat Tour which is a full day of exploring Abel Tasman’s bays and islands by boat, plus some walking. Indicative cost is $189 per person, with check-in at Marahau at 8.30am.
Sea Kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park
There are many options for testing out your kayaking skills in Abel Tasman National Park. You can choose from guided tours and freedom kayak hire, single person or double person kayaks are available and often the price of hire includes a water taxi out into the park, to one of the best spots for kayaking.
There is also the option of doing some kayak sailing! To do this, a special sail is fitted to the kayak (wind conditions permitting) and away you go with the wind pushing you along.
One of the most popular Abel Tasman National Park islands to kayak around, is Tonga Island, which is east of Onetahuti beach. This island is home to a colony of New Zealand fur seals, and is a protected Marine Mammal Reserve (as is Pinnacle Island just to the south east of Sandfly Bay). If you want to kayak around either of these reserves, you need to be accompanied by an authorised guide.
Examples of Freedom Kayak Options (no guide)
One Day Kayak and Walk – Kayak from Marahau to Anchorage Bay, leave your kayak and walk south back to Marahau – indicative cost is $100 per person at Kahu Kayaks, or $105 per person (minimum of two people in a double kayak) at MSK. Recommended departure times are around 8.30am.
One Day Full Kayak – Kayak around the southern Able Tasman waters, including Watering Code, Adele & Fisherman’s Islands, to and from Marahau – indicative cost is $85 for two people at MSK. Recommended departure times are around 8.30am and 10.30am.
Before you begin your Freedom Kayaking you will be instructed in the safe use of your kayak by a hire company representative. This can take up to 90 minutes depending on how busy it is at the time of your hire.
Examples of Guided Kayak Options
If you want to experience the New Zealand fur seal colony on Tonga Island up close (from 20 metres away), then choose between one of the four companies that have a Marine Mammal Permit: Kaiteriteri Kayak, Abel Tasman Kayaks, R&R Kayaks, and Wilsons Abel Tasman. Other companies to consider are MSK and Kahu Kayaks.
Kaiteriteri Kayak’s tour “Big Tonga Marine Reserve” departs from Kaiteriteri (an 18 minute drive from Awatea Tasman Bay) at 9.00am in summer (check-in at 8.30am), where you cruise by water taxi to Onetahuti Beach. You then kayak out to the Tonga Island Marine Reserve and see the fur seal colony up close. From there you kayak south and explore the coastline, stopping at beaches and lagoons on the way (for the supplied lunch) as you make your way to Anchorage. Kayaking time in the water and paddling is about 4 hours and 30 minutes. A water taxi picks you up and returns you to Kaiteriteri. Indicative cost is $205 per person.
R&R Kayaks offer a similar tour, called “Oar-some Marine Reserve”, with check-in at Marahau at 8.30am. Indicative cost is $235 per person.
Abel Tasman Kayaks offers a tour called “Marine Reserve” with a Marahau check-in at 8.30am, and follows much the same route. You’ll be kayaking for about 4 hours all up. Indicative cost is $250 per person.
Although MSK do not hold a Marine Mammal Permit (they cannot take you within 20 metres of Tonga & Pinnacle Island) you can still experience the fur seals relatively close by, especially if they are swimming in the sea around your kayak. MSK offer a tour called “Magical Marine Reserve” that starts in Marahau (8.30am departure) where you cruise by water taxi to Onetahuti Beach, and then explore, by kayak, the Tonga Island reserve. Using a special sail fitted to the kayak (and paddling!), you head south to Anchorage via the coastline. From Anchorage you then cruise back to Marahau on a water taxi. Indicative cost is $245 per person.
Canyoning in Abel Tasman National Park
If you’d like to burn off some energy and get an adrenaline rush (or two!), then try canyoning in the Abel Tasman National Park!
You can join Abel Tasman Canyons, who organise a water taxi ride from Marahau out to Anchorage (and return). You are fully briefed on safety and are fitted with a wetsuit and helmet, and after a walk into the forest you begin the ride down one of the rivers in Abel Tasman! Indicative cost is $279 per person, which includes your lunch, photos & video to share. Tours are about 4.5 hours in length and the meeting time is around 8am in Marahau.
Abel Tasman Canyons also offer abseiling in Kahurangi National Park at Blue Creek, and these tours depart from Motueka at 8am and the indicative cost is $240 per person.