The complete walk takes about 3½ hours one way, and requires transport arrangements to be made. From the Rotokura/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.
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.
Evidence of Māori 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.