Abel Tasman National Park

The Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand's smallest national park at 22,350ha. Established in 1942 it is famous for its golden beaches, turquoise waters, native bush walks and spectacular scenery.

There are two walking tracks; the beautiful coastal track which takes 3-5 days to walk the entire length and the more remote inland track through the hilly center of the park which also takes 3 -5 days.

Many visitors kayak or walk part of the way. You can mix and match your own itinerary so talk to us at Abel Tasman Kayaks about your plans and we can help create the perfect itinerary for you.

The park's rocky coastline is a haven for miniature marine life and is always a fascinating place to explore. You will see even more when you pause for a swim with your snorkel and goggles! Between the tides, plants and animals occupy distinct bands like the forest zones between sea level and the bush-line. Periwinkles, tubeworms, Neptune's necklace, starfish and pink algae are all adapted to a particular level of exposure to sun and wind. Underwater, you will discover seaweed, sea urchins or kina and Cook's turban shells. Fur seals are found along the coast of the park, particularly on the more remote granite headlands of Tonga Island. Please note seals should not be approached closer than 20 metres. (Information courtesy of Department of Conservation.)

Many of our trips operate in the Tonga Island Marine Reserve which is the third marine reserve to be created alongside a national park. It covers an area of 1835 hectares, extending one nautical mile (1852m) offshore from the mean high water mark of Tonga Island, and the coast between Awaroa Head and the headland separating Bark Bay and Mosquito Bay. The marine reserve protects all marine life within its boundaries, benefiting not just fish and shellfish, but also animals like seals, penguins and other seabirds that live on the land but feed in the sea. (Information courtesy of Department of Conservation). Abel Tasman Kayaks is one of three kayak operators holding a marine mammal watching permit.

The three largest islands in the park, Tonga, Adele and Fisherman, are home to many native plants and animal species which are either low in number or are no longer found on the nearby mainland.

Adele Island
Adele Island is a strikingly beautiful island and is predator free. It is home to many native New Zealand birds and the west side of the island has some great beaches which shift with the tide. With rapidly growing numbers of native birds, the bird chorus is like the birdsong early explorers heard. Abel Tasman Kayaks is a proud founding and financial supporter of the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust

  • Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust - Proud founding members and financial supporters - 10c per person each time you cross the park's foreshore is given to the trust. The aim of the trust: The forests and beaches of Abel Tasman are once again filled with the birdsong that awakens and delights visitors.

Fisherman Island
A stunning remote island situated in the Southern end of the park is just waiting to be explored! Bustling with native wildlife, secluded and wondrous, this island is a must see on your journey.

The Abel Tasman has an excellent coastal walking track, and a more remote inland track. Walking sections of the coastal track can be readily integrated with sea kayaking along the Abel Tasman coastline. Department of Conservation advertises the following walking times:

Marahau to Anchorage Hut  3.5 hrs 11.5 kms
Anchorage Hut to Torrent Bay    
High tide route 1.25 hrs 4.0 km
Low tide route 20 mins 0.9 km
Torrent Bay to Bark Bay 3 hrs 7.8 km
Bark Bay to Onetahuti 2.5 hrs 6.1 km
Onetahuti to Awaroa Hut 1.5hrs 5.3 km
Awaroa Hut to Totaranui 1.5 hrs 5.5 km
Totaranui to Whariwharangi 3.5 hrs 7.5 km

There are a number of excellent tidal lagoons along the Abel Tasman coastline (e.g. Torrent Bay Lagoon, Frenchman's Bay Lagoon, Falls River, Bark Bay, Awaroa Inlet). Generally these can be explored by sea kayak 2 hours either side of high tide. There is insufficient water to kayak in the lagoons outside these times.

If walking the coastal track, you will need to time your walk with the tidal crossings.

Do not attempt to cross the tidal estuaries at high tide! The tides rise and fall twice a day and need to be considered with regards to the scheduling of your walk or sea kayak trip. Once you have decided when you will be in the park, work out the high and low tide times. (See below). There is one place that you can only cross around low tide: Awaroa Estuary. Torrent Bay Estuary and Bark Bay Estuary  have an alternative high tide route, but these are longer and slower than the low tide crossing routes. The exact timing of your window for crossing will depend on which place, phase of the moon, weather conditions.

2 hours either side of low tide is fine for Awaroa Estuary, and just take the high tide route around the others if it looks too deep. The 2 hour rule offers the best margin of safety and comfort.

To determine tide times for a given date, use this site

Normally the weather in the Abel Tasman National Park is warm and sunny. The average summer temperature is 24 C (75 F), minimum temperature 13C (55F) and water temperature 18C (65F). During the cooler winter months the average daily maximum is 12C (54F), minimum temperature is 4C (39F), and the water is 14C (58F). Winds can occur during any time of the year, and can affect kayaking itineraries and timing. Autumn and early winter are generally calmer.

Current weather and forward forecasts can be viewed:

Abel Tasman coastal forecast

Short forecast for Abel Tasman area

  Day Night
Summer (Dec-Feb) 22 Degrees 13 Degrees
Autumn (Mar-May 18 Degrees 8 Degrees
Winter (June-Aug) 13 Degrees 3 Degrees
Spring (Sept-Nov) 17 Degrees 7 Degrees


Further information on the Abel Tasman National Park can be found at the following sites:

The Department of Conservation (DOC) and Nelson Tasman Tourism