And the Abel Tasman National Park is also home to the famous Abel Tasman Coastal Track which is one of New Zealand's Great Walks.
Imagine strolling along a pristine beach, with the waves gently lapping at the shoreline, and the sound of native birds in the background. Surrounded by ancient native bush, you are transported far from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Peace, tranquility and nature are words commonly associated with this beautiful part of New Zealand, and if you are coming to the South Island, we highly recommend a visit to the Abel Tasman National Park.
Check out the local wildlife which includes dolphins, seals, penguins, and many other bird species like cormorants, tui and bellbirds.
This may be New Zealand's smallest National Park, but it sure packs a lot into it's boundaries.
What's on this page?
Here's everything that you need to know about the Abel Tasman National Park.
Just follow the links below:
Where do I find the Abel Tasman National Park?
The Abel Tasman National Park is located at the Northern end of the South Island, around an hours drive from the main city of Nelson, or around two and a half hours drive from the ferry port at Picton.
Access by foot is via the village of Marahau, and there are also various tour companies operating out of Marahau and the nearby village of Kaiteriteri.
You can fly into Nelson Airport from the main centers of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Access from the North Island
If you are coming from the North island you can fly to Nelson, or better still, take the time to catch the ferry from Wellington (at the bottom of the North Island) to Picton (at the top of the South Island).
This is one of the world's great ferry journeys and takes you across Cook Strait, then into the Marlborough Sounds before arriving in Picton. The trip takes around three and a half hours.
Please note: if you have a rental car or camper please make sure that your rental company allows you to take your vehicle on the ferry. In some cases you may need to drop your vehicle off at Wellington then collect a new one in Picton.
Your road journey from Picton takes you along State Highway 1 into Blenheim (the heart of the Marlborough wine region), then onto State Highway 6 for the trip to Nelson.
The entire trip from Picton to Nelson should take you about one and a half to two hours. Then another hour or so to Marahau in the Abel Tasman National Park.
Access from Christchurch
The road trip from Christchurch will take six to seven hours, and can be made via two routes:
* State Highway 1 to Blenheim, then on to State Highway 6 to Nelson.
* Take the inland route via State Highways 1, 7, 65 and 6.
Our State Highways map shows the various routes.
The "Best Things To See and Do" in the Abel Tasman
As you can imagine, as one of New Zealand's premier destinations, there is no shortage of amazing activities within the Abel Tasman National Park.
Kayaking, cruises, walks, and watching the wildlife are always popular here, and there are a range of experienced, local operators all ready to provide that memorable photo filled experience.
On our trips there we have been very fortunate to see penguins, dolphins, seals, and numerous varieties of bird life.
We have caught flounder with a hand spear, dredged for scallops (a real delicacy) and caught the iconic New Zealand whitebait with the locals.
Long walks along deserted beaches, and dips in the crystal clear waters have meant some very special times in and around the Abel Tasman.
You can see a full range of tours on our dedicated page by clicking here.
But here are some of the more popular tours and activities:
1) See the best of the park on your Abel Tasman day tour
This day tour lets you experience various facets of the park.
Leaving from Kaiteriteri, your tour typically includes a cruise past Split Apple Rock, en-route to the Tonga Island Marine reserve. Here you can hike, kayak and may even see the beautiful New Zealand fur seal in it's natural habitat.
You will have time to walk the Pit Head loop of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, and take in the views of the coast and native bush.
Your tour lasts around 6 hours, and includes a delicious platter style lunch.
2) Kayak and swim in the crystal clear waters of the Abel Tasman
If you're an energetic traveler this one's for you.
Beginning at the beautiful village of Marahau, your kayak tour takes you along the stunning coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park through the Astrolabe Roadstead.
Keep an eye open for the cheeky local fur seals, and native bird life as you pass Adele Island.
Then take the opportunity for a walk or a swim at one of the park's pristine beaches during your lunch break (lunch can be provided for an additional fee).
This really is a great way to experience nature, "Abel Tasman style".
3) Combine a kayak on the turquoise waters with a leisurely "walk in the park"
This wonderful day trip combines a kayak and walk from Marahau to Observation beach (or reverse).
Paddle your way through the park's pristine waters, before stopping on a golden beach for lunch (included).
Then don your walking shoes for the tramp back, which follows the beautiful coastline and takes you through native forests with incredible views of the coast.
You won't be disappointed.
4) Be a crew member on a traditional Waka
Now this is something different.
Learn about the local Maori culture and even learn some traditional Maori language as you crew your own Waka along the beautiful coastline from Kaiteriteri to Split Apple Rock.
There's time for a swim or some sun bathing before heading back to Kaiteriteri, arriving before lunch (great if you have some afternoon plans).
Like walking? The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is one of New Zealand's finest
Stretching from Marahau to Wainui, the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is one of New Zealand's Great Walks.
It covers some 60 kilometres, and showcases some of New Zealand's most spectacular coastal scenery.
Taking between three and five days to complete, the Abel Tasman Coastal Track will provide you with lifelong memories.
Waterfalls, secluded bays and beaches, crystal clear streams, and well maintained huts and campsites, all conspire to make this a wonderful adventure.
As is common in New Zealand, the park and track are maintained and administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC), and the link above will take you to their website, which is full of information about the track.
If you intend to stay overnight on the track, bookings are essential.
Bookings are essential
If you plan to walk the track, you will need to stay in one of the DOC huts or camp sites.
Please note: you must pre-book your walk and your accommodation in one of the huts or camp sites directly with DOC before you arrive.
Spots fill very quickly and our best advice is to book early to avoid missing out.
At the time of writing, DOC offered four huts and eighteen separate camp sites along the length of the track.
Campers are not permitted to use the huts, so if you think you might need some additional "comforts" its perhaps best to book a spot in one of the huts.
You can see the fees by clicking HERE.
You can book your tickets on the DOC website HERE.
You can view the DOC Abel Tasman Coastal Track brochure by clicking HERE.
Where to access the track
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track can be accessed at three points:
* Marahau (which is around sixty seven kilometres from Nelson)
* Wainui (which is around twenty one kilometres from Takaka - the road is unsealed for a couple of kilometres)
* Totaranui (around thirty two kilometres from Takaka with an unsealed section of around twelve kilometres)
The track can be walked in either direction, and you can choose to walk the whole track, or just parts of it.
There are water taxis available from Marahau and Kaiteriteri which can take you to and from various points on the track.
The water taxis do not go past Totaranui and do not stop at Wainui Bay.
Where to stay near the Abel Tasman National Park
Apart from DOC campsites and huts, accommodation within the Park is limited to the Awaroa Lodge
and the DOC (Department of Conservation) huts and camp sites (these
must be pre-booked before you start your walk along the Abel Tasman
Awaroa Lodge usually closes for the cooler winter period.
Other than Awaroa Lodge, the closest accommodation is in Marahau, which adjoins the park. Marahau has a range of places to stay including camping grounds, backpackers, cabins, holiday homes and lodges.
The beautiful sea side village of Kaiteriteri, which is around 10 kilometers drive from Marahau, has a similar range of accommodation.
For more variety, try the town of Motueka (around 30 minutes drive) or the city of Nelson (around 1 hours drive). These two have a much larger selection, including many motels. The disadvantage is that they are a little further away from the park.
We've included some pictures below for a few of our favourites. Click on the images for more information.
Tasman District Map
Abel Tasman National Park Map
State Highways Map
New Zealand's official tourism agency, Tourism New Zealand has lots more information on the Tasman region.