Cable Bay Walkway

Alert/Important notice

Cable Bay Walkway is closed from 1 July to 7 October 2014 due to lambing.

Track category

Walking track


3 hr 30 min one way


Cable Bay. Photo: Diana Parr.
Cable Bay

The complete walk takes about 3½ hours one way, and requires transport arrangements to be made. From the Cable Bay end a shorter return trip is to the top of the first hill (1 hr return) or to the forest edge (2 hr return). From the Glen end, a round trip to the airstrip and back takes about 2 hours.

Cable Bay Walkway offers wonderful coastal views of the Boulder Bank, Nelson City and Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks. The middle section of the track passes through a patch of beautiful and varied native forest.

The track is a walking track. It is steep in places and strong footwear is recommended.

Getting there

Buses and other forms of public transport are common in the area but there are no scheduled services to this walk.

The walkway starts at either Cable Bay, 21 km north of Nelson, or the Glen, 12 km out of the city.


Boating Boating
Diving and snorkelling Diving and snorkelling
Kayaking and canoeing Kayaking and canoeing


Horoirangi Marine Reserve is situated 12km north of Nelson city, Horoirangi Marine Reserve extends north-east from Glenduan ("The Glen") to Ataata Point, the southern headland of Cable Bay. Some of the best diving and snorkelling is found towards the north of the reserve, especially near Ataata Point. 

Kayaking and boating

Kayaking and boating are popular activities at Cable Bay. 

Places to stay

Camping is prohibited on the Cable Bay walkway and Cable Bay Recreation Reserve. Private accommodation is available at Cable Bay Holiday Park.

About the area

Evidence of Maori occupation in the Cable Bay area (Rotokura) dates back to about 1150 AD; the area was a fishing ground and a campsite was maintained there. Delaware Bay, across the estuary, was the site of the main pa. In 1863, the pa occupants heroically rescued the crew of the Delaware during a terrible storm.

Cable Bay was once known as Schroders Mistake, after a Nelson skipper mistook the bay for another and put his boat on the rocks there. The laying of New Zealand's first international telegraph cable gave the bay its modern name. The operation, from Sydney to Cable Bay, took 11 days and transmission began on 21 February 1876. A fire razed the station in 1914 and in 1917 the cable was moved to Titahi Bay, near Wellington.

Plan and prepare

  • The entire walkway crosses private farmland and is closed during lambing each spring, from 1 August - 7 October. 
  • No dogs are allowed at any time.
  • Please respect the stock and farm property.
  • Be wary of sudden weather changes.
  • Light fires only in designated areas.

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Find out more


DOC maps: Discover the outdoors - DOC's key places, campsites, tracks and huts, and visitor centres on a map


Follow the Outdoor Safety Code:
1. Plan your trip
2. Tell someone
3. Be aware of the weather
4. Know your limits
5. Take sufficient supplies

Alerts for Nelson/Tasman places


Nelson Visitor Centre
Phone:      +64 3 546 9339
Address:   Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
79 Trafalgar Street
Nelson 7010
Full office details
Motueka Office
Phone:      +64 3 528 1810
Full office details

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