Te Pukatea Bay

Image: Darryl Wilson | ©


Blessed with a mild climate, golden beaches and lush coastal native bush, the Abel Tasman Coast Track has it all.


  • Visit golden sand beaches
  • Discover Cleopatra's Pool -  natural rock pool with a moss-lined waterslide.

  • Admire the beautiful inlet to Falls River as you walk across a 47 m suspension bridge.

  • Keep an eye out for fur seals/kekeno.

Explore on Google Street ViewWatch videos | Download the free visitor app

Bookings are open to 30 June 2020.



Track overview

60 km

Walking and tramping

3 - 5 days Intermediate: Great Walk/Easier tramping track

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


What to expect

It is well marked and signposted, but some sections may be steep and rough and the track could be muddy.

There is one compulsory tidal crossing - consult a tide timetable before booking your trip.

Walking options

Walk the whole track in either direction, take a water taxi or kayak between different locations.

Places to stay

There are 4 huts and 18 campsites along the Abel Tasman Coast Track, which must be booked in advance all year round. Visitors arriving without a valid booking, or staying at a hut or campsite other than the one named on their ticket, will be charged a penalty fee or may be asked to leave the park.

Note, campsites are designed for tents and are not suitable for hammocks. Campers are not permitted to use hut facilities.

Marahau to Anchorage

Time: 4 hr
Distance: 12.4 km

You’ll begin your journey as you cross the estuary over the Marahau causeway, and follow the track, first through open country, then lush beech forest with large kānuka trees. The track eventually turns inland, winding in and out of several little gullies before emerging to a view of the beautiful Anchorage Bay. Here you’ll descend to Anchorage Hut and Campsite.

Side trip: Tinline Bay Nature Walk

Time: 20 min return

Home to a bizarre tree growing in an unusual place.

Campsites and huts between Marahau and Anchorage

Anchorage to Bark Bay

High tide track
4 hr
Distance: 11.5 km

Low tide crossing, Torrent Bay estuary
3 hr
Distance: 8.4 km

Torrent Bay estuary can be crossed within 2 hours either side of low tide, or you can take the all-tide track around it. An impressive 47-metre long suspension bridge takes you over Falls River. You’ll then meander through lush coastal forest before being led back to the sea and the idyllic golden sands of Bark Bay.

Side trip: Cascade Falls

Time: 1 hr 30 min return

A beautiful waterfall hidden in native bush that’s a great spot to cool off. The track isquite steep in parts but it’s worth the hike!

Side trip: Cleopatra's Pool

This beautiful rock pool with clear coolwater is a nice swimming hole.

Campsites and huts between Anchorage and Bark Bay

Bark Bay to Awaroa

Time: 4 hr 30 min
Distance: 13.5 km

Cross the beautiful Bark Bay estuary 2 hours either side of low tide or follow the all-tide track (10 minutes) around the edge of the estuary. A steep climb takes you through stands of mānuka. Return to the coast at Tonga Quarry and it’s a short walk from there to Onetahuti Bay, where one of the longest beaches in the Abel Tasman stretches before you.

The track then leads over the forested Tonga Saddle. At the junction just beyond the saddle, either stay on the main track around and down to Venture Creek, following the path up the hill to a lookout point over Awaroa Bay, before dropping down to walk to Awaroa Campsite and hut. Alternatively, if you need to catch a water taxi, turn right at the junction and take the non-DOC track down to the beach. At low tide, it is possible to follow the beach below the high tide mark around the inlet and wade across to Awaroa Hut and Campsite.

Take care to stay below the high tide mark away from nesting birds.

Onetahuti Bay on Google Street View

Campsites and huts between Bark Bay and Awaroa

Awaroa to Whariwharangi Bay

Awaroa to Tōtaranui

Time: 2 hr 20 min
Distance: 7.1 km (tidal)

Tōtaranui to Whariwharangi Bay

Time: 3 hr 15 min
Distance: 9.8 km

Awaroa Inlet can only be crossed within 1 hour 30 minutes before and 2 hours after low tide. Along the track, the scenery alternates between sandy beaches and rocky headlands of regenerating kānuka. Camp or stay in the cosy and historic Whariwharangi Hut (a former homestead built around 1896) just behind the beach.

Campsites and huts between Awaroa and Tōtaranui

Whariwharangi Bay to Wainui

Time: 2 hr
Distance: 5.7 km

Follow a trickling stream and climb above the bay to a saddle overlooking the serene Wainui Inlet. The inlet is a great place to swim or to explore rock pools. The track winds down to the shore and follows the estuary edge to the car park.

Whariwharangi Bay to Tōtaranui

Time: 3 hr
Distance: 9 km

From Whariwharangi Hut follow a small stream, then climb out of the bay to a low saddle overlooking Wainui Inlet. At this point take a left turn onto the Gibbs Hill Track. This track will take you over the steep Gibbs Hill then back down to Tōtaranui.

From Tōtaranui you can get a water taxi back to Mārahau, ensure you allow enough time to walk to Totaranui. Refer to your water taxi provider for their pick up/drop off locations and timetable.

Note this is a shared-use track. Mountain biking Wainui – Gibbs Hill – Tōtaranui is allowed from 1 May to 1 October at any time of the day. There is a maximum group size of eight riders.

Fees and bookings


Fees are charged per person, per night to stay in huts and campsites on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. There are no fees to complete a day walk on the track or for entry into the Abel Tasman National Park.

Pay your fees by booking the huts and/or campsites before you start the track.


In the peak season 1 October - 30 April:

New Zealand citizens and those ordinarily resident in New Zealand*:

  • Adult (18+ years): $38 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required

International visitors:

  • Adult (18+ years): $75 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): $75 per person, per night

In the off-peak season 1 May - 30 September:

  • Adult (18+ years): $32 per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required

* New Zealand rates:

  • "Ordinarily resident in New Zealand" means those:
    • who hold a residence class, student or work visa; and
    • who have lived in New Zealand for six of the previous 12 months; and
    • for whom New Zealand is their primary place of established residence.
  • Proof of eligibility will be required for the New Zealand rate - see acceptable eligibility proof.

In the peak season 1 October - 30 April:

New Zealand citizens and those ordinarily resident in New Zealand*:

  • Adult (18+ years): $15 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required

International visitors:

  • Adult (18+ years): $30 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): $30 person, per night

* New Zealand rates:

  • "Ordinarily resident in New Zealand" means those:
    • who hold a residence class, student or work visa; and
    • who have lived in New Zealand for six of the previous 12 months; and
    • for whom New Zealand is their primary place of established residence.
  • Proof of eligibility will be required for the New Zealand rate - see acceptable eligibility proof.

In the off-peak season 1 May - 30 September:

For all visitors:

  • Adult (18+ years): $15 person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): Free

A 10% discount is available to members, staff and instructors of the following organisations, who also hold a valid 12 month Backcountry Hut Pass: NZ Mountain Safety Council; NZ Federated Mountain Clubs; NZ Deer Stalkers Association; NZ Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR); Scouts New Zealand; GirlGuiding NZ.

Discounts are not available online. To receive the discount we need to sight your membership card and Backcountry Hut Pass, so please visit a DOC visitor centre in person. If you get a discount you won't be charged a booking fee.


Huts and campsites must be booked in advance year round. Visitors arriving without a valid booking, or staying at a hut or campsite other than the one named on their ticket, will be charged a penalty fee or may be asked to leave the park.

Book the Abel Tasman Coast Track online

What to book

Before you start walking the Abel Tasman Coast Track, you need to book: 

  • Huts and/or campsites on the track – the walk takes 3-5 days to complete
  • Transport to/from the start/end of the track or mid-points along the track – the walk is one-way with track ends approx. 80 km apart
How to book 

Bookings are open to 30 June 2020.


  1. Decide how much of the track you want to walk and what direction you want to walk in – shuttles service the northern end of the track at Wainui, and water taxis run between Kaiteriteri and Marahau at the southern end of the track to the main beaches of Anchorage, Torrent Bay, Bark Bay Onetahuti, Awaroa and Tōtaranui.
  2. Decide what huts or campsites you want to stay at. Consider:
  3. Decide the date you want to stay at each hut/campsite. Note there is a maximum number of nights you can stay at each:
    • 1 October - 30 April: maximum 2 nights (except Tōtaranui campsite which is a maximum of 1 night all year)
    • 1 May - 30 September: maximum 5 nights (except Tōtaranui campsite which is a maximum of 1 night all year)
  4. Check availability of huts and campsites on the dates you want to stay. If there is no space in one of the huts/campsites you want to stay at, consider:
    • Starting your walk on a different date
    • Re-arranging your walk to use a different combination of huts/campsites
  5. Check the availability of transport services on your desired dates.
  6. Book huts/campsites.
    • Book online, or
    • Contact a DOC visitor centre or local iSITE for personal assistance.
    • Note:
    • Bookings are required for children and/or youth even though it's free for them to stay.
    • If you're booking campsites, you'll need to know the number of people in your group as well as the number of tent sites required.
  7. Book transport to/from the start/end of the track with a transport operator. Find shuttle services and water taxis for the Abel Tasman Coast Track
Terms and conditions

Read the booking terms and conditions (scroll to the bottom to find the Terms and Conditions link) for general information, age ranges, prices, discounts, penalty rates and the alterations and cancellations policy. Bookings not meeting the terms and conditions will be treated as invalid and cancelled.

Booking on behalf of others

Guided groups: To operate a commercial activity in an area managed by DOC, you need to apply for a concession (an official permit), in addition to any bookings you would need to make. Read more about concessions 

To make multiple bookings for facilities/services on behalf of customers, you must obtain permission or an agent agreement from DOC. To do this, email: agents@doc.govt.nz 

Getting there

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is accessible by road at four points, each with a carpark:

  • Marahau, the southern gateway, is 67 km from Nelson on sealed road.
  • Wainui is 21 km from Takaka. For the last 2 km, the road is unsealed.
  • Tōtaranui is 32 km from Takaka. For the last 12 km, the road is unsealed.
  • Awaroa estuary is 31 km from Takaka. The last 12 km of road is rough and unsealed. There are two fords, which flood after heavy rain. From the Awaroa carpark on the northern side of the estuary, it’s 25 minutes of tidal walk to Awaroa hut and campsite, which are on the southern side of the estuary.

Transport options

Abel Tasman Coast Track locality map.
Abel Tasman Coast Track locality map

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is not a circuit track. However, it can be combined with the Abel Tasman Inland Track to form a 5-6 day circuit. By road it takes 2 hours 30 minutes to drive between Tōtaranui or Wainui and Marahau (approx. 100 km). This road is narrow, winding and unsealed in places. By boat transport it takes about 1 hour 30 minutes to travel between Tōtaranui and Marahau.

The track is well serviced by public transport including buses/coaches and boat transport. Contact transport operators directly for their pick up/drop off locations and timetables.

Transport operators on on Nelson Tasman Tourism website

Torrent Bay water taxis and day charter vessels are no longer able to pick up passengers or their gear from Torrent Bay. There is a limited drop off service operating in the morning between 9 am and noon. The nearest pick up points to Torrent Bay are Anchorage (30 minutes - low tide or 1 hour 30min - high tide) and Bark Bay (2 hours). Water taxis can still visit Torrent Bay outside of these hours to service landowners and their guests at Torrent Bay Township.

Vehicle parking: DOC provides a carpark at Marahau,Tōtaranui, Wainui and Awaroa roadends. Cars are parked at owner's/driver's risk. Secure parking can be arranged at various Marahau businesses.

Bus services operate in summer from Nelson and Motueka to major roadends Marahau and Kaiteriteri and connect with Takaka transport to Tōtaranui and Wainui. Bookings are recommended. In winter, bus services operate daily to Marahau and Kaiteriteri but not so regularly to Wainui and Tōtaranui.

Water taxis operate year round from Marahau and Kaiteriteri. The scheduled water taxi pickup locations are: Anchorage, Bark Bay, Onetahuti, Awaroa and Tōtaranui. Refer to your water taxi provider for their pick up/drop off locations and timetable.

Know before you go

Your safety is your responsibility. To have a great time in the outdoors, know before you go the five simple rules of the Outdoor Safety Code to help you stay safe:

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

1. Plan your trip

Be sure to consult a tide timetable when planning your trip as the Awaroa estuary area on the track is only passable at low tide.

Check with visitor centres for any track updates and important notices, which report closures or maintenance on huts, campsites, roads and tracks - also listed on Nelson/Tasman alerts

Walking seasons

The Coast Track is open all year. Transport, activity, equipment and accommodation operators are available year round.

All huts and campsites must be booked all year round. See booking information for details.

Chart showing that the number of walkers peaks between December and March.
Chart showing walker numbers peaking between December and March

The chart (at the right) shows the number of walkers on the track between Torrent Bay and Bark Bay. Numbers peak in January with over 250 per day and drop in August to less than 25.

In peak season (October to April), DOC hut wardens and staff are based at the huts and Tōtaranui Camp Office.

In winter, wardens rotate among the huts.

The advantages of visiting the Abel Tasman Coast in the winter include fewer visitors, calmer water, less water traffic such as water-skiers, and hardly any insects.

The main disadvantages are the shorter daylight hours and cooler temperatures.

Track closure

In case of any accident or injury that requires emergency evacuation, contact Police Search and Rescue via Department of Conservation staff or boat transport staff radios.

In the unusual situation of the track being closed (e.g. in case of extreme fire risk), signs will be erected at track entrances and information will be at i-SITES, DOC information centres and on the DOC website. Check the Track Update before you start the track. If the track is closed, a full refund will be given.

2. Tell someone

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.

Fill in the visitors book if you are staying in a hut.

3. Be aware of the weather

The climate is mild with sea breezes, summer droughts and some winter frosts. Rainfall averages 1800mm and the sun shines around 2200 hours per year. During late spring and throughout summer the coast is subject to strong westerly winds, while the autumn and winter months are generally calm.  

Weather information at Tōtaranui
  Max temp ˚C Min temp ˚C Rainy days
July 13 4 11
August 13 5 10
September 15 7 12
October 17 8 9
November 19 10 10
December 21 12 10
January 23 12 6
February 22 13 7
March 21 12 9
April 18 10 8
May 16 7 10
June 14 6 10

The Abel Tasman Coast Track can be walked all year but in winter temperatures are cooler. All huts have heating. Campsites that get good afternoon sun are Anchorage, Bark Bay, Mosquito Bay, Awaroa and Tōtaranui.

4. Know your limits

Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience.

5. Take sufficient supplies

For a full list check 'What to take'

Cookers and lighting
  • Cookers and lighting are not provided in any of the huts.
  • If you are allergic to wasp stings, take your medication, such as antihistamines, with you.
  • Sandflies are tiny black insects which cause itchy bites.
  • Bring and use insect repellent.

The use of hammocks, including "tree hugger" hammocks, is not permitted in campsites on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Not all campsites have convenient trees to use as the campsites have been designed for placing tents, not hammocks.

Tide tables

Tide timetables are for your safety.

Note: There are some low tide crossings along the Abel Tasman Coast Track.

Torrent Bay Estuary

  • This can be crossed 2 hours either side of low tide, under normal conditions.
  • Allow 25 minutes to cross.
  • There is a high tide track around the estuary (note this gives access to Cleopatra’s Pool)

Awaroa Inlet

  • Walkers can cross Awaroa Inlet within 1 hour 30 minutes before and 2 hours after low tide, under normal conditions although this can be affected by natural influences such as tide heights, storm surges and heavy rainfall.
  • It is only safe to cross the inlet in daylight.
  • Allow 25 minutes to cross.
  • There is no alternative track around the estuary.

Goat Bay

  • There is a section of the access to the beach that is cut at large tides.
  • Wait until the tide recedes before continuing.

View the low tide timetables

Low tide timetable for May 2019
May date Sunrise Morning Afternoon Sunset
1 Wed 7:13 12:51 1:07 5:36
2 Thu 7:14 1:38 1:47 5:35
3 Fri 7:15 2:17 2:24 5:33
4 Sat 7:17 2:53 3:00 5:32
5 Sun 7:18 3:27 3:36 5:31
6 Mon 7:19 4:01 4:13 5:30
7 Tue 7:20 4:37 4:53 5:29
8 Wed 7:21 5:16 5:34 5:28
9 Thu 7:22 5:58 6:19 5:26
10 Fri 7:23 6:48 7:09 5:25
11 Sat 7:24 7:49 8:06 5:24
12 Sun 7:25 9:01 9:14 5:23
13 Mon 7:26 10:17 10:33 5:22
14 Tue 7:26 11:26 11:50 5:21
15 Wed 7:27 - 12:25 5:20
16 Thu 7:28 12:55 1:19 5:19
17 Fri 7:29 1:49 2:08 5:19
18 Sat 7:30 2:35 2:55 5:18
19 Sun 7:31 3:17 3:39 5:17
20 Mon 7:32 3:56 4:22 5:16
21 Tue 7:33 4:34 5:02 5:15
22 Wed 7:34 5:11 5:41 5:14
23 Thu 7:35 5:49 6:21 5:14
24 Fri 7:36 6:30 7:03 5:13
25 Sat 7:37 7:19 7:49 5:12
26 Sun 7:37 8:17 8:43 5:12
27 Mon 7:38 9:24 9:47 5:11
28 Tue 7:39 10:29 10:56 5:11
29 Wed 7:40 11:25 - 5:10
30 Thu 7:41 12:00 12:15 5:10
31 Fri 7:41 12:52 1:01 5:09


Low tide timetable for June 2019
June date Sunrise Morning Afternoon Sunset
1 Sat 7:42 1:37 1:44 5:09
2 Sun 7:43 2:18 2:27 5:08
3 Mon 7:44 2:58 3:10 5:08
4 Tue 7:44 3:37 3:54 5:07
5 Wed 7:45 4:19 4:38 5:07
6 Thu 7:46 5:02 5:24 5:07
7 Fri 7:46 5:50 6:12 5:07
8 Sat 7:47 6:42 7:02 5:06
9 Sun 7:47 7:41 7:57 5:06
10 Mon 7:48 8:47 9:00 5:06
11 Tue 7:49 9:54 10:12 5:06
12 Wed 7:49 10:58 11:25 5:06
13 Thu 7:50 11:57 - 5:06
14 Fri 7:50 12:30 12:53 5:06
15 Sat 7:50 1:25 1:45 5:06
16 Sun 7:51 2:13 2:34 5:06
17 Mon 7:51 2:56 3:20 5:06
18 Tue 7:52 3:35 4:02 5:06
19 Wed 7:52 4:13 4:42 5:06
20 Thu 7:52 4:49 5:20 5:06
21 Fri 7:52 5:27 5:58 5:06
22 Sat 7:53 6:06 6:36 5:07
23 Sun 7:53 6:50 7:17 5:07
24 Mon 7:53 7:38 8:02 5:07
25 Tue 7:53 8:30 8:55 5:07
26 Wed 7:53 9:25 9:57 5:08
27 Thu 7:53 10:22 11:04 5:08
28 Fri 7:53 11:17 - 5:09
29 Sat 7:53 12:06 12:12 5:09
30 Sun 7:53 12:59 1:06 5:09

What to take

Huts on the Abel Tasman Coast Track don't have gas cooking facilities and lighting. Remember to take a portable stove and fuel, and candles with you.

Personal equipment

  • Backpack (40–60 litre size for multi-day hiking)
  • Waterproof/plastic pack liner
  • Sleeping bag (3–4 season)
  • First aid kit (including insect repellent, sunscreen, blisterkit, personal medication e.g. antihistamine for allergy towasp stings)
  • Survival kit (survival blanket, whistle, paper, pencil, highenergy snack food)
  • Safety equipment relevant to the track and time of year (e.g. map, compass, tide timetables)
  • Drink bottle (1-2 litre capacity)
  • Eating and cooking utensils (knife, fork, spoon, plate, cup,pot/pan/billy, cleaning kit, tea towel)
  • Matches or lighter in waterproof container
  • Toiletries
  • Torch/flashlight and spare batteries
  • Rubbish bag
  • Booking confirmation letter and ID
  • Portable stove and fuel
  • Candles
  • Toilet paper
  • Swimwear
  • Sandals or aqua shoes for walking in water
  • Visit the Kiwi way – never miss an opportunity to use a loo and be prepared with a back-up toilet option
If you're camping...
  • Tent
  • Sleeping mat
  • Camera
  • Ear plugs for communual bunkrooms


  • For multi-day walking you'll need at least one set of clothes to walk in and another dry set to change into at night. Walking boots or firm footwear (should be comfortable and well broken in)
  • Socks (wool or polypropylene)
  • Shorts (quick dry material)
  • Shirt (wool or polypropylene)
  • Under layers, top and bottom (wool or polypropylene)
  • Mid-layers (wool or polar fleece)
  • Raincoat (waterproof, windproof with hood)
  • Overtrousers (wind and water proof)
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Sunhat and sunglasses
  • Extra socks, underwear, shirt/lightweight jersey

Note: It's not possible to dry clothes in the huts. Cotton clothing such as jeans, T-shirts and sweatshirts aren't suitable.

  • Gaiters
  • Lightweight shoes for inside the huts


You can't buy food on the track.

Bring food that is lightweight, fast cooking and high in energy value. For example:

  • Breakfast: cereal/porridge/oats, firm bread, honeyor other spreads
  • Lunch: cracker biscuits, cheese, salami, jam/jelly, fruit
  • Dinner: instant soup, pasta or rice, dried vegetables or fruit, cheese or dehydrated (freeze-dried) meals.

You'll also need water, snacks, biscuits, muesli bars, tea or coffee, powdered fruit drinks and emergency food in case of any delays on the track.

Download a checklist 


Kayaking is a popular activity in the Abel Tasman Coast Track area.

For people who haven’t kayaked before, a guided trip is recommended. If you are renting a kayak or going on a guided trip, discuss your kayak trip with your chosen kayak operator before booking huts or campsites.

For independent kayak rentals, a minimum of two people and previous sea-kayaking experience are essential.

For more details and your own safety be sure to contact kayaking operators, or i-SITES.

Kayaking is more weather dependent than walking along the Coast Track, so you are advised to:

  • Book campsites that are within your kayaking ability and plan for the worst weather - head winds and rough seas. Then, if the weather makes kayaking slow you will still get to your campsite. If the weather is fine and there is a tail wind, you can always kayak to your campsite, set up your tent and then go exploring with your kayak without your overnight gear. 
  • Assess your fitness, the wind strength and direction and sea swell before proceeding each day. If the weather is too rough to safely kayak to your intended destination (the campsite you have booked), stop and wait for a few hours for sea conditions to improve. It is only permissible to camp at a campsite other than the one you have booked for safety reasons. Explain the circumstances when a Ranger inspects your Camp Accommodation Ticket.

Never risk your life by kayaking in dangerous seas!

Kayaking is not recommended north of Onetahuti Bay due to the remote and exposed coastline.

Approximate paddling times for experienced kayakers in calm conditions without stops are:

  • Marahau to Anchorage 4 hr
  • Anchorage to Bark Bay 2 hr
  • Bark Bay to Onetahuti 1 hr 30 min

Guided options / Kayak rental

Guided kayaking and kayak hire options - Abel Tasman i-SITE  

Planning a school group trip to the Abel Tasman Coast Track

We are pleased you are bringing your students to Abel Tasman National Park. The information and ideas below are mainly suggestions made by the Project Janszoon Student Advisory Board, student representatives from schools who have adopted restoration areas in the park.

These suggestions are what they think other kids visiting the park might like to know. In particular, there is information to help kids who may be feeling a bit nervous about tramping for the first time. We hope the information makes it easier to plan your trip and gets everyone excited!

About the Abel Tasman National Park

There's information about the Abel Tasman Coast Track on this website. Maps, safety information and alerts are available. You can download the Abel Tasman Coast Track walk brochure (PDF, 3,257).

Visit the Project Janszoon website to find out what you can see in the park and the work the Project Janszoon Trust is doing with DOC, the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust, community and local iwi to restore the ecology of the park.

If your students want to know more about the Student Advisory Board and how they are actively involved in restoring the park, see the Trust's education website.

You can download the visitor app that has points of interest along the track. 

Other resources and ideas

  • There are hundreds of videos about Abel Tasman National Park on YouTube. This is one of our favourites for a bit of an overview and pretty scenery shots.
  • View a list of concessionaires who offer special packages for schools – everything from gear transport, guides and kayak hire. Have you considered starting half your group walking on the tramp while the other half kayaks get to a half way point, then swap over? The concessionaires can help you organise that.

Does a kid poop in the woods?

Here are some activities on how to deal with human waste and the other seven principles of Leave No Trace so you can make sure your trips is a positive one for your students and the park:

Slow down!

We understand part of the satisfaction of doing a ‘great walk’ is completing it but remember that you don’t have to. Instead you can spend an entire day (or two nights) at one hut/campground. It's a great way to refresh tired kids and really explore one area. It also gives more time for activities, team building, swimming, and sand castle building. We recommend Anchorage Hut and Bark Bay Hut as great full day stops.

What does ‘tramping’ mean?

Te Ara website gives a great overview of tramping in New Zealand – everything you may want to consider from history of tramping in New Zealand, tramping lingo and good tramping yarns. You may find this helpful to generate talking points and excitement. We encourage you to submit your own tramping stories after your visit.

What to bring

Enjoying your trip has a lot to do with bringing the right equipment and gear. Be sure to add bug spray and a good rain jacket to all the other essentials – contrary to popular belief it does rain in Golden Bay and the park, and there are sandflies. Make sure your food list includes a few treats.

There are hundreds of gear lists and backcountry food recipes available online. Here’s a few of our favourites: 

Are we there yet?

Let your students be the guide, it will help break up the walk and keep kids engaged. Have students research one or two of the most common plants and animals they will see during your tramp, and then search for them during the walk. When they find the plant/animal that they researched, they can be the guide and share the information with the group.

Have a team be in charge of time keeping and predicting distance to destination based on speed of travel. They can give updates every 30 minutes. No need to ask ‘are we there yet?’, you will get an update every half hour.

Is your bag overweight? 

Figuring out how much weight to carry in your backpack can make a big difference, not only in how much students enjoy their trip but is also important in helping to prevent injury (back, shoulder, neck and knee strain).

Have your students figure out how much weight they should carry (remember to include the weight of the pack when empty).

The amount each person can carry will depend on several factors, such as fitness, build type, bone and muscle density, the health of your joints (knees in particular), and age.

Guidelines used by recreational backpackers are that an individual in good health should be able to carry about 15–20% of their body weight, about 7.5 kg for a 50 kg person. 

A little practice helps you go a long way

Can you carry everything in your bag and are your shoes comfortable?

A week or two before the trip have students pack their backpack with everything they think they might like to take (or rocks weighing the same amount) and wear the shoes they are planning to wear on the tramp. Then go for a walk around school or the neighbourhood for at least 30 minutes.

This will help them figure out if the backpack is adjusted correctly and if their shoes are comfortable.

It’s important to pre-test new hiking shoes, and this should not be on day one of the tramp! Are there any rub points that need attention with band aids or gauze? HikersWool or Moleskin are very thick, cushioned, extra-adhesive, specialized plasters for blisters. The're available from pharmacies and well worth the extra cost.

More useful information

Official stuff

  • The Ministry of Education offers lesson plans relating to school camps.
  • EPIC Encyclopaedia Britannica School primary, middle and secondary all have information about camping and the history of camping. Use ‘camping’ as a keyword. 
  • The Pond offers a huge range of relevant educational resources on its catalogue. 

Kids get the last word

Here are some of the ‘must do’ tips from Project Janszoon’s Student Advisory Board:

  • swim – the water is amazing!
  • kayak – you haven’t experienced Abel Tasman unless you see it from the water
  • visit Cleopatra Falls – it’s a short side trip and you will never forget it
  • make a difference – find out how you can get involved in helping Project Janszoon restore the Abel Tasman, or get involved with a conservation or restoration project close to your home.

We know how important it is to you that your students have a positive and memorable experience. If you need any further assistance contact us at the Nelson Visitor Centre.

Enjoy your tramp! 

Abel Tasman visitor app

Access all the information you need while walking or kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park. Just download the Abel Tasman Virtual Visitor Centre app onto your smartphone. It will work offline in the park and will update itself when in coverage or within range of a hotspot.

The app has up-to-date information on weather, tides, maps, points of interest, history, plants, wildlife and walking times in the Abel Tasman National Park. It also gives you insight into the 30-year ecological restoration of the park being undertaken by Project Janszoon and DOC.

Download the free app

Apple app store icon. Click to download app for iPhone.

Google play icon. Click to download app for android.


Wi-fi hotspots to download the app are at:

  • Marahau beachfront, park entrance and campground area
  • Anchorage campground and hut
  • Torrent Bay village
  • Bark Bay hut and campground
  • Awaroa village, DOC hut, and car park
  • Tōtaranui campground

The app and private wi-fi network are provided by Project Janszoon, a private trust working in partnership with the Department of Conservation to restore the ecology of the park.

Find out more about Project Janszoon.

Nature and history


The park’s bedrock is made up of Separation Point Granite. Its physical and chemical qualities determine the nature of the forest cover and details, such as the colour of beaches and stream beds.

Soils developed from granite bedrock are relatively infertile, yet damp gullies just above sea level support rich forest. Although many trees were removed during the milling era, a lush understorey of trees and shrubs, tree ferns, kiekie and supplejack remains and the gullies lead the regeneration process.

Black beech is the natural cover of the dry ridges and headlands close to the sea, with hard beech further inland where more moisture is available. Kanuka occurs where there have been windfalls or a history of fires. Manuka occurs where repeated burning has degraded the soil.


D’Urville found South Island kokako in the forests around Torrent Bay; these and several other native bird species have since disappeared and bellbird, fantail, pigeon and tui are now the main forest birds. Around the beaches, estuaries and wetlands, pukeko are common.

A range of wading birds stalk the estuaries for fish and shellfish, while offshore, gannets, shags and terns can be seen diving for food. Little penguins feed at sea during the day and return to burrows on the park’s islands at night.

In 2007 Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust was formed whose vision is to have the forests and beaches of Abel Tasman once again filled with birdsong. You may see the trusts stoat and possum traps on or near the track in Torrent Bay. The traps are regularly checked by volunteers so don't touch the traps and if you see a dead animal tell the next DOC ranger you see.

Rivers and estuaries

The native fish communities within Abel Tasman waterways are almost pristine, due to the relatively intact nature of the parks catchments. Close proximity to the sea, also means they are within easy reach of whitebait and other migratory native fish larvae.

Fourteen native fish species have been recorded, including threatened migratory galaxiid species, such as short-jaw, and giant kōkopu, kōaro and inanga. Banded kōkopu (not threatened) are often seen in small pools, if you are quiet.

Unmodified estuaries are an integral feature of the Abel Tasman Coast, always changing as the tides come and go twice a day. The regular influx of nutrients from the sea supports many fish, snails, worms, and crabs, which are food for coastal birds. Being sandy (rather than muddy) the park’s estuaries are easily explored around low tide.

Areas inundated by only the highest tides carry salt marsh vegetation: rushes, glasswort and sea primrose. These plants trap moving sand, often beginning a long process which can result in replacement of the estuarine community with a terrestrial one.

Beyond the shoreline

The park’s rocky coastline is a fascinating place to explore, particularly with snorkel and goggles. Between the tides, plants and animals occupy distinct bands like the forest zones between sea level and the bushline. Periwinkles, tubeworms, neptunes necklace and pink algae are all adapted to a particular level of exposure to sun and wind.

Underwater, seaweeds are grazed by sea urchins and Cook’s turban shells. Further out are granite reefs, while at Separation Point live bryozoans, tiny animals that build extensive colonies of coral-like structures.

Fur seals are found along the coast of the park, particularly on the more remote granite headlands of Separation Point, Tonga Island and Pinnacle Island.

Tonga Island Marine Reserve runs one nautical mile out from the coast between Awaroa Head and the headland separating Bark Bay and Mosquito Bay. All marine life within its boundaries is protected and fishing is not allowed. A separate publication on the reserve is available.


For at least 500 years, Māori lived along the Abel Tasman coast, gathering food from the sea, estuaries and forests, and growing kumera on suitable sites. Most occupation was seasonal but some sites in Awaroa estuary were permanent.

On 18 December 1642, Abel Tasman anchored his two ships near Wainui in Mohua (Golden Bay), the first European to visit Aotearoa New Zealand. He lost four crew in a skirmish with the Māori there, Ngati Tumatakokiri.

The Tumatakokiri were conquered around 1800 and the conquerors in turn were invaded in the 1820s. Te Ati Awa, Ngati Rarua and Ngati Tama all trace their ancestry to this latter invasion.

Frenchman Dumont d’Urville followed in January 1827, exploring the area between Marahau and Torrent Bay. Permanent European settlement began around 1855. The settlers logged forests, built ships, quarried granite and fired the hillsides to create pasture.

For a time there was prosperity but soon the easy timber was gone and the hills were invaded by gorse and bracken. Little now remains of their enterprise and the ravaged landscape is slowly healing.

Abel Tasman National Park was formed after Nelson conservationist Perrine Moncrieff became concerned at the prospect of logging along the beautiful coast. She campaigned to have 15,000 hectares of crown land made into a national park. A petition presented to the Government suggested Abel Tasman’s name for the park, which was opened in 1942 on the 300th anniversary of his visit.


For more information about the Abel Tasman Coast Track:

Whakatū / Nelson Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 546 9339
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   nelsonvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
79 Trafalgar Street
Nelson 7010
Postal Address:   Private Bag 5
Nelson 7042

For huts and campsites bookings help contact:

Nelson Marlborough Bookings Helpdesk
Phone:   +64 3 546 8210
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   nmbookings@doc.govt.nz
Postal Address:   Private Bag 5
Nelson 7042


Nelson i-SITE Visitor Centre,
Ph +64 3 548 2304

Motueka i-SITE Visitor Centre,
Ph +64 3 528 6543

Golden Bay i-SITE Visitor Centre,
Ph +64 3 525 9136

Hunting permits

For hunting permits for northern Abel Tasman National Park you can apply online or contact:

Mohua / Takaka Office
Phone:   +64 3 525 8026
Email:   takaka@doc.govt.nz
Address:   62 Commercial Street
Takaka 7110
Postal Address:   PO Box 166
Takaka 7142

For hunting permits for southern Abel Tasman National Park you can apply online or contact:

Whakatū / Nelson Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 546 9339
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   nelsonvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
79 Trafalgar Street
Nelson 7010
Postal Address:   Private Bag 5
Nelson 7042


Motueka Office
Phone:   +64 3 528 1810
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   motueka@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Cnr King Edward & High Streets
Motueka 7120
Postal Address:   PO Box 97
Motueka 7143

Dog permits

For dog permits contact:

Whakatū / Nelson Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 546 9339
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   nelsonvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
79 Trafalgar Street
Nelson 7010
Postal Address:   Private Bag 5
Nelson 7042
Motueka Office
Phone:   +64 3 528 1810
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   motueka@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Cnr King Edward & High Streets
Motueka 7120
Postal Address:   PO Box 97
Motueka 7143


Mohua / Takaka Office
Phone:   +64 3 525 8026
Email:   takaka@doc.govt.nz
Address:   62 Commercial Street
Takaka 7110
Postal Address:   PO Box 166
Takaka 7142


Whakatū / Nelson Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 546 9339
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   nelsonvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
79 Trafalgar Street
Nelson 7010
Postal Address:   Private Bag 5
Nelson 7042
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