Walking the Abel Tasman Coast Track

New Zealand, Abel Tasman National Park, Hiking, Coast Track

Where could a 56-kilometer long coast track through the lush forest and along pristine beaches be? Yes, you are right, New Zealand. The land of the long white cloud, Aotearoa, as they Maori call their motherland, offers heaps of spectacular walking tracks. You can walk through Mordor on the Tongariro Alpine crossing, walk to isolated Fjords in Fiordland or go for Abel Tasman Coast Track. The later is the most famous one and there are many convincing reasons for its popularity. But before you head down to the National Park, there are quite a few things to plan. Let me tell you how to organize yourself for a four-day camping trip without running out of food like me.

New Zealand, Abel Tasman National Park, Hiking, Coast Track
Mutton Cove, Abel Tasman National Park
The Abel Tasman Nationalpark

At the Northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, a protected area of roughly 225 square kilometers is called the Abel Tasman National Park. Stunning bays, golden beaches, and tropical looking hilly forests are dominating and adorning the landscape of the Park.  The namesake Abel Tasman, a dutch mariner and discoverer first set food on the shores of the today’s national park in the year 1642.

This coastal paradise can be discovered in different ways and there is a suitable option for everybody. You can hike, kayak, go on a boat tour or even take a plane to get there. What I liked the most when I was walking the Abel Tasman Coast Track, is the physical endeavor combined with a relaxed beach life. The beaches of this park, and I cannot repeat it often enough, are certainly one of the best in the world. But convince yourself and have a look at the gallery.

In terms of accommodation, there are many options. For those who don’t want to miss the comfort of a home, there are plenty of luxury lodges. I, however, recommend to just sleep under the stars on a camp ground – you will love it. Hearing the calmly breaking waves while lying in the sand and look into a sky of million stars is unforgettable. But I was lucky enough and this experience was even topped. After a while, when we stood up, we saw that breaking waves were illuminated in a light blue. This phenomenon is way more breath-taking than any skyline of the world.

Apple Tree Bay, Camping, New Zealand
The early bird catches the worm – Apple Tree Bay.
Abel Tasman coast track

As mentioned earlier the 56-kilometer long track impresses with an unbelievable natural beauty and you realize after the second day, that you can easily live without your phone and reconnect back to nature. You also realize what you really need and how important it is to carefully plan a trip like this. So let me offer you my advice.

Packing, unpacking and repacking your backpack.

Fully motivated you start planning your camping trip. Its going to be exciting and you bought a lot of stuff. You grab your bag and you are ready to go. But then you realise, “Oh I forgot the tent” or “Shit, it is to heavy to carry it for such a long trip”. I know how it is, I have done several multi-day walks and it is always an issue. But with every trip you learn something and I would like to share my learnings. So what is essential for you to carry with you on a four day camping trip in the Abel Tasman National Park:

  • A comfortable backpack
  • At least two water bottles with a capacity of at least 1.5 liter each
  • A gas stove to prepare food and boil water
  • Alternatively water purifying tablets
  • Sufficient food such as:
    • Musli Bars
    • Soup powder
    • Pasta
    • Dark bread
    • A spread you prefer (preferably in a plastic container)
    • Fresh fruits (Apples, Kiwis or Banana)
  • Torch
  • Sharp knife
  • Plastic plate, cup and cutlery
  • Tent (preferably an ultra light tent)
  • Sleeping bag and sleeping mat
  • Clothes:
    • Basics (Comfortable t-shirts, trouses, etc.)
    • Fleece pullover since it can get quite chilly during the night
    • Swimwear
    • Comfortable and sufficiently worn in shoes.
Backpack, Abel Tasman, Hiking, New Zealand,
13kg of provisions and utensils.

Now we clarified what is essential for you to take with your on your hike. But what else have to be considered. Make sure that you are doing this with people you know for at least a couple of days. Do the planning together, get the provisions and off you go. But also the places where you stay have to be planned. I recommend you the campsites where I stayed because all of them topped my expectations.

The Route

Start at Marahau and take a water taxi to the North of the national park, to Totaranui. There you start walking North to Mutton Cove. It takes roughly 2 hours to get there and you have plenty of time to set up your tent and make yourself comfortable. If the two-hour walk, has not challenged you enough, you can walk further North to Separation Point (1h return).

On the second day back you head South to Tonga Quarry, passing Totaranui, Awaroa Hut, and Onetangi Hut. This is the most challenging day covering around 19 kilometers with some steep ascents and beach walks. Including lunch break expect the walk to take around 8 hours. So start early and you will be able to enjoy the Tonga Quarry campsite and its beautiful beach. Be aware and have a look at the tide timetable, since a part of the route can be only passed during low tide.

Hanging bridge, New Zealand, Abel Tasman National Park
Hanging bridge in the Abel Tasman National Park

The third day should start with a quick swim in the crystal clear water of the Tonga Island Marine Reserve. The walk of the third day takes you to Te Puketea Bay, a walk of roughly 7 hours including a lunch break. Along the way, you will pass beautiful beaches and Anchorage, a major campsite of the Abel Tasman National Park.

On the fourth day, you can either hike back to Marahau ( 6 hours including break) or stay for another night on Apple Tree Bay (4.5 hours). We decided to spend another night in the National Park and although we were running out of food, Apple Tree Bay was our favorite campsite.  So enjoy your last night, and  I can tell you, you will be thrilled of anticipation of a nice warm shower on the next day.

Abel Tasman National Park, Apple Tree Bay, Coast Track, Walking, Hiking, New Zealand
Last evening in the Abel Tasman National Park – Apple Tree Bay.
Final recommendations.

Please be aware, in the most parts of the park there is no cell phone reception and no provisions can be purchased on the track. Furthermore, the campsite has to be booked and paid in advance on the page of the Department of Conservation of New Zealand. Also, you can check the following map for detailed description. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate and contact us.

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