Abel Tasman National Park is the smallest jewel in the crown of New Zealand’s National Park network (22,500 hectares), yet it reflects a unique identity among the much larger, more mountainous parks. It encompasses kilometres of idyllic golden sand beaches washed by the tidal flows of Tasman Bay, linked by an easy walking track of exceptional standard, alternating with hidden coves, estuaries and spectacular granite outcrops. Offshore lie numerous islands punctuating the broad sweep of Tasman Bay, providing sanctuary for seabirds, seals and penguins.
Looking down toward the sea from the track while walking, you will see the brilliant blue-green of the water and golden sand set against luxuriant forest and tree fern, with a feeling of being on an island paradise. Looking inland however, the park presents a different profile, with dense forested hills rising steeply to 800 – 1100 metres, drained by rugged watersheds which fall to the coast through deep gorges and impassable waterfalls. The park has an interesting history, with Maori settlement, Dutch and French explorers, before being settled by English settlers in the 1850′s.
On this two and a half day guided trip, we will provide you with a very personalised experience of this lovely coastal walk from Marahau at the southern end of the park, to Awaroa at the northern end. You can tailor the trip to your budget and preferences, choosing overnight options from camping, our 50 ft yacht “Simply Wild”, holiday homes in the park and Awaroa Ecolodge.
The accommodation options:
Camping – The camping option on the first night is at the Department of Conservation campsite at Anchorage. This is a large but sheltered site with a lovely beach where you can walk and swim. You should not expect to be alone in Anchorage, as it is an entry point for boats and watertaxis, and popular. That said, it is a stunning and attractive spot. We provide a comfortable, large dome style tent with an annex for clothes and changing, and stretcher beds with thick inflatable solid foam mattresses plus sheets and duvets. There are excellent flush toilet facilities at the camp but there are no showers.
The Yacht – We have two yacht options. Our standard yacht is our 50ft Beneteau, “Simply Wild”. This has a 4 double cabin layout, each with shower and toilet. In practice, the chef and guide share one cabin, leaving 3 double cabins available for guests. (The skipper has his own small cabin forward.) For larger group we have “ShKhinah”, a 60ft expedition style steel ketch, which sleeps up to 10 people. Also available if you want total luxury is the 90ft “Yonder Star”.
The Holiday Home – Abel Tasman is unique in having a number of small areas of private land within the park, mainly at Torrent Bay and Awaroa. We have relationships with a number of owners of holiday homes within the park and can secure overnight access to these home at times. These are typical New Zealand holiday homes (known locally as a “bach” and comfortable, not luxurious), but provide an authentic New Zealand experience. In the case of Abel Tasman National Park where there is no reticulated power or roads, lighting, hot water and cooking is provided by gas, solar power or generator.
Awaroa Lodge – We’ve been involved with Awaroa Lodge since it was built over 20 years ago. It’s grown from a quirky hippie style lodge in the beginning, to a genuinely stylish ecolodge in a delightful location. The management of the Lodge has recently been taken over by a Australia/New Zealand hotel group. We think it is a great place to end your trip, with a choice of both family style and more luxurious suites.
We provide a door to door experience. We will collect you from the airport, your hotel, lodge or other accommodation and return you there at the end of the trip.
We’ll collect you from the airport or your overnight accommodation in Nelson for the 50 minute drive to Marahau at the beginning of the park. We can safely store any luggage you don’t require for the walk. If you are staying overnight on our yacht we will transfer your bags with what you’ll need on the trip, to the yacht before we leave Nelson. We recommend you take soft style bags on the trip for ease of handling on boats. If you don’t have these we can supply them.
You will be accompanied by our guide, and our chef depending on the accommodation options you’ve chosen. The chef will travel by water taxi with your bags from Marahau to either Anchorage Bay, (the camping option) or Torrent Bay (the holiday home option), to prepare for the evening. If you are staying on the yacht for the night, your bags and the chef will leave from Nelson and sail to Anchorage.
The track from Marahau to Anchorage is 8 – 9 kilometres and takes 3 – 4 hours. The track follows the coastline past the pretty bays of Appletree and Stillwell, with Fishermans Island and Adele Island prominent just offshore. The track is well formed and through native bush until it climbs over the ridge before Anchorage. At this point it’s about 20 minutes down to Anchorage for camping or our yacht, or a further 45 minutes to Torrent Bay and the holiday home.
Hiking along the coast through native bush, past lovely estuaries and along golden sand beaches. The first section is from Anchorage or Torrent Bay to Bark Bay, a distance of 8 – 9 kilometres and between 2 – 3 hours walk. From Torrent Bay the track ascends a saddle and cuts inland, with great views along the coastline before crossing the swingbridge at Falls River and descending to picturesque Bark Bay, where we stop for a picnic lunch on the beach.
After lunch we have a short climb out of Bark Bay and head inland again on our way to Tonga Bay and the golden crescent of Onetahuti beach, before climbing the low saddle over to Awaroa. Bark Bay to Awaroa is a distance of 11 kilometres and takes around 3 – 4 hours.
At Awaroa you have the option of staying in a delightful and slightly quirky holiday home designed and owned by one of New Zealand’s leading architects, or Awaroa Ecolodge.
A standard part of the track is the final 1 – 2 hour hike to Totaranui. This walk is dictated by the tide, as the Awaroa Estuary must be crossed within 2 hours each side of low tide. We therefore recommend not doing this section, instead travelling back to Marahau and the beginning of the track by either scheduled or private watertaxi, which enables us to have you back in Nelson for onward travel by early afternoon.
Because this trip has multiple options, we suggest you contact us for a specific quote with the options you would like included in your trip.Price examples for a group of 4 people:
The holiday home or Awaroa Lodge options begin from NZ$1,800.00 per person ($600.00 per day)
The yacht/Awaroa Lodge options begin from NZ$2,084.00 per person all inclusive as above. ($694.00 per day)
Each trip is all inclusive of vehicle & boat transfers, accommodation as specified, guide, chef, park fees and all meals. (Does not include alcohol)
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