The Abel Tasman National Park on the northern coast of the South Island is well known for its picturesque vistas of golden sand and azure blue ocean. With two rest days and ample time to stop to enjoy the views, the beaches, the lush native forest and the birdsong, this walk between Totaranui and Marahau on the Abel Tasman Coast Track will not disappoint.
The well graded track passing through diverse and spectacular scenery is one of New Zealand's ten premier trails classified as a Great Walk. A boat trip is included in the journey and allows a great overview of the trail from an offshore perspective as well as a chance to spot seals, penguins, dolphins and other marine life.
After a night in Nelson, the city at the geographical centre of New Zealand, accommodation is at private beachfront eco lodges along the track that exude charm and heritage.
Staying two nights at each fully serviced and fully catered lodge, with all the comforts of home, this is the perfect trip to completely absorb the region's natural beauty in a relaxed time frame.
- 1 night motel accommodation in Nelson on twin-share basis with private bathroom
- 4 nights private lodge in Abel Tasman National Park (twinshare) with private bathroom
- 4 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners, snacks along the trail
- Drinking water
- Daily luggage transfer - 1 bag only, must use the sports bag supplied (40L, 47x35x25cm)
- Professional local guide
- Return transfers from Nelson hotel to meeting point in Motueka
- Transfers from Motueka to Kaiteriteri (boat launch) and Marahau (trailhead) to Motueka
- Car parking in Motueka if self-driving
- Scenic boat trip between Kaiteriteri and Totaranui (trailhead) - one way
- Access and Concession fees paid to Department of Conservation
- $20 per person donation to Project Janszoon (see www.projectjanszoon.org/about)
Day 1 Arrive Nelson
Make your own way to Nelson, the city at the geographical centre of New Zealand, and check-in to your accommodation any time after 2:00pm. It is worth spending some time in and around this city with its colourful main street, historic cathedral, lovely walking and cycling trails, the Centre of New Zealand Lookout (a 20 minute walk with superb panoramic views), vibrant arts and cultural scene, and the beautiful Tahunanui Beach popular with surfers and kite surfers. Food lovers will be spoilt for choice with a multitude of cafes, restaurants and award-winning breweries showcasing seasonal, regional flavours and artisan produce. Nelson is also home to the world famous Pic's Peanut Butter.
Day 2 Transfer from Nelson, commence Abel Tasman Coast Track (7km, 2-2.5hrs)
You will be collected from your accommodation this morning (timing will be advised upon booking) and transferred to Motueka (approx 50 mins) for a short trip briefing and to meet your guide. Another short transfer (approx 25 mins) takes you to the seaside settlement of Kaiteriteri with its brilliant golden beach foreshore. Here you will board your scenic boat cruise, travelling northwards along the impressive granite coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park to Totaranui (approx 1 hr 40 mins).
Watch out for seals and other marine life along the way as you pass by protected Marine Reserves. Totaranui is so named due to the large Totara trees originally found here by Maori inhabitants who used them to build 'waka' (canoes). Commence walking south from Totaranui, passing through lush forest that has regenerated after farming and saw milling activities from the late 1800's and early 1900's. Your guide will lead you across Awaroa Inlet, the largest tidal estuary in the National Park, or arrange a barge if the tide is too high. Not far from there Meadowbank Homestead appears, the private lodge where your friendly hosts will take care of you this evening.
Day 3 Rest Day, Awaroa
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
The level of activity in which you engage is entirely up to you today. You may wish to explore the Awaroa Inlet with your guide, either on foot (approximately 4 hours gentle meandering) or by sea kayak (approximately 2 hours gentle paddling). Both activities are dependent on the tides on the day and the level of interest of the group. There are some historical sites of interest, both Maori and European, as well as fascinating estuary features. Alternatively, you may wish to enjoy the day at your leisure, strolling the beach or simply relaxing on the sand or in the gardens of the lodge.
Day 4 Awaroa to Torrent Bay (17km, 6hrs; high tide route +2km/1hr)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
After a hearty breakfast, today's walk includes a mixture of undulations and flat sections as you cross headlands and traverse yellow sand beaches. Natural features such as interesting granite formations, native beech and rimu forests, ancient sand spits and lagoons merge with human history. Maori settlement and burial sites, and current day baches (holiday homes), mostly still owned by generations of the same families, represent both Maori and European activity along the coast. Farming, ship-building, tannin extraction and granite quarrying have all taken place since Maori occupation. Torrent Bay, where tonight's lodge is located, is a village of privately owned land with no road access. Areas such as this have historical links prior to 1942, when the Abel Tasman National Park boundaries were first established. Enjoy home comforts once again this evening while your hosts at Torrent Bay Lodge take care of all your needs.
Day 5 Rest Day, Torrest Bay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today is also a day for as much or as little activity as you wish. Catch a sunrise before breakfast or spend a few extra moments in bed. Take a walk with your guide to explore the estuary (tides permitting) or venture on some side tracks to visit waterfalls tumbling through virgin forest or Cleopatra's Pool in a cool, green forest enclave. You may like to take a picnic and walk to the very picturesque Te Pukatea Cove, visiting historic Maori sites along the way. Alternatively, you may prefer to relax on the beach or at the lodge before watching the changing hues of sunset reflect onto the sky at the end of the day.
Day 6 To Marahau (13km, 4hrs; high tide route +3km/1.5hrs), transfer to Nelson
Another delicious breakfast at the lodge sets you up for your final day of walking. After crossing or skirting Torrent Bay Inlet, depending on the tides, and traversing the golden curve of Anchorage Bay beach, the track climbs inland for a while. There are many viewpoints across Tasman Bay towards Nelson. Returning to the coast, the track follows ridgelines with tall kanuka forest and drops in and out of small forested gullies of lush beech and tree ferns. There are several optional side tracks today where you can drop down to secluded bays and beaches, tides permitting. These make ideal places for swimming and a picnic lunch. The bays, beaches and headlands are all named after Maori settlements, pioneering European landowners, ships of early explorers or natural features, again showcasing the fusion of natural and cultural history within Abel Tasman National Park. The walk concludes after crossing the Marahau estuary along a boardwalk. From here you will transfer by bus back to Motueka and onwards to Nelson, where trip arrangements end.