South Sea Sojourn
Two main hiking trails tapeworm through the park. Two shorter, circuitous tracks branch away from the main trails: the Coast Track and the Inland Track. The Coast Track is one of New Zealand's most user-friendly and popular trails and can be walked without heavy boots. It hugs the coastal cliffs for an almost perpetual view of the cobalt sea. The beaches and crystal-clear water are inviting, and are easy to access from the track in several designated places. The track begins in Marahau car park and follows the entire coastline of the park to its northern terminus in Wainui. There are three huts and numerous campsites situated in prominent anchorages and bays en route. The estimated time of foot travel from Marahau to Wainui car park is 20 hours.
For those seeking something more challenging than a leisurely walk along the coastline, the Inland Track is the one to try. As its name indicates, the track takes the hiker deep into the bowels of the park forest on an old pack track that is narrower and steeper than the Coast Track. Huts are far and few between. From the starting point at Marahau to the car park in Canaan is approximately 27 hours of tramping. If you choose to hike to the end, you will be rewarded with the astonishing landscape features of Canaan: a series of immense vertical shafts and crater-like hollows of rock. The most notable feature is the huge shaft of Harwoods Hole, the deepest "straight drop" in New Zealand.
The Nelson province, whose boundaries include Abel Tasman National Park, is renowned for its salubrious climate. The coastline, in particular, is blessed with an ample amount of mild, sunny daysan average of 2,200 hours of sunlight annuallythe highest in the country. However, the general rule of wet springs and falls still apply as I discovered when I took my trip in the October spring (remember, seasons for the southern hemisphere are opposite to our own). Nevertheless, spring is the best time of year to visit Abel Tasman. In mid-summer, the park is crowded from vacationers making their annual pilgrimages to the beaches and trails. October through November is also the time of year you are most likely to encounter migratory whales heading south.
Places to Stay
Abel Tasman Marahau Lodge
Ocean View Chalet
The Barn at Marahau (backpackers)
Old MacDonald's Farm
Marahau Beach Camp
(free phone: 0800-808-018)
Places of Interest and Information
The Park Cafe & Restaurant
Awaroa Lodge & Cafe
(Situated in the center of the park. Only accessed by hiking, sea kayak, or aqua taxi.)
Abel Tasman Kayaks
Department of Conservation
(Moteuka - topo maps and track conditions can be obtained here.)
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
from $5995USDfor 17 daysOperated by Eldertreks