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.