Upper South Island and the West Coast Sights

Abel Tasman National Park

  • Beach–Sight
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 08/30/2016

Fodor's Review

One of New Zealand's most easily accessible parks is also one of the most visited, with its golden sand beaches, sculptured granite headlands, and forest-lined tidal inlets and islands. Unlike other South Island parks, Abel Tasman has few extremes in weather and its coastal track, one of the Great Walks, is an ideal place to explore without the need of serious technical equipment or experience. Day- and multiday trips, walking, sea-kayaking, sailing, and scenic cruises, and combos of all of these, are popular ways to explore.

Keep in mind in the peak summer holiday season (Christmas to late January) this area is very busy and you will rarely be on that dream beach alone. Any time of the year, however, is perfectly suitable for an Abel Tasman trip, to wander the coastal track on golden beaches and through forest trails, or kayaking the sheltered bays and coves, perhaps in the company of seals.

The small settlements of Kaiteriteri and Marahau are the main gateways to the

national park, both at the southern end 20- to 40-minutes' drive from Motueka. Stop first at the Nelson or Motueka i-SITE Visitor Centre for maps and information. If you're planning to stop overnight at a Department of Conservation campsite or hut, along the Abel Tasman Coast Track, you need to book ahead. You can do this online (v26484040booking.doc.govt.nz) or at the Nelson or Motueka i-SITE. It pays to book well ahead, especially in summer. Water taxis service the coastline, and they drop-off or pickup at many points along the way. At the northern end of the park, a road leads from Golden Bay through the park to Totaranui, where there is a large DOC campground and long, beautiful beach. This is a popular start/finish point for those walking the Abel Tasman Coast Track.

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Sight Information


Abel Tasman National Park, Tasman, 7917, New Zealand

Website: www.doc.govt.nz

Published 08/30/2016


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Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating

Jun 4, 2015

Underdeveloped and disappointing!

I know many people love this park and consider it a gem, but we felt like we wasted a day trying to access it and in the end didn’t really felt like we saw very much. Granted, the facts that the day we had for this was rainy and that we spent a good deal of it worried about running out of fuel in our campervan didn’t help. We started and ended the day in Motueka, went to Kaiteriteri, then back to Highway 60 and up part of the Canaan Road until

we got worried that we were going to get stuck, then to Takaka where a woman at the I-Site said there was a visitor’s center at Totaranui. It took us about two hours to get there on an unsealed road in the rain, only to find that what she called a visitor’s center was actually the campground registration office and it was apparently closed for the season. By that time, it was late afternoon and time to head back before dark. My favorite parts of this day were photographing some sea birds at Kaiteriteri, taking in views at the Hawkes Lookout (actually in Kahurangi National Park), and the Abel Tasman Monument, despite the fact that it was raining pretty hard at that point. It didn’t seem like this national park had adequate infrastructure, or maybe we just didn’t understand what a primitive park it is. Later in our New Zealand trip, we got to the seal colony at Cape Foulwind and Pancake Rocks near Punakaiki and found that both of those places had decent roads, facilities, and even a visitor’s center. If I had it to do over again, I’d skip Abel Tasman and what was a very frustrating and fruitless day.

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