With golden sand beaches surrounded by coastal rain forest and beautiful turquoise water, it's not hard to understand why Abel Tasman National Park has become so famous. It is the smallest national park in New Zealand, but because of its location, climate and natural beauty it is also one of the most popular. (See our 'Map' page for a map of Abel Tasman). It is truly a water-fringed bush-clad playground.
There are two main walking tracks, the coastal and the inland tracks. The coastal track is 51km long and generally takes 4 to 5 days to walk. There are two tidal crossings so check tide times before walking. To kayak one way takes most people about 3 - 4 days. The inland track is much quieter and lesser known.
There are 22 camp sites in the Park, 8 huts plus several commercial accommodation options in private land bordered by the park. Trampers pre-book and pay for campsites and hut passes from the Department of Conservation. No charge is made for day visits and there are lots of great walks that you can do in a day or shorter. There are virtually no shops in Abel Tasman so you need to bring all your food and requirements with you.
Tonga Island marine reserve was created in 1993 and it's fantastic to watch the increase in marine life along this coastline.
The northern Abel Tasman coastal area is much less crowded that the south, so bear that in mind when planning your visit. North of Totaranui, round to Golden Bay, is also quieter on the beaches as there are no water taxis and very little commercial activity.
Some suggested day walks in the northern Abel Tasman can be found described on my "About Golden Bay" page.
Any time is a good time to visit Abel Tasman as the weather is never too extreme, at least along the coast. However you can get snow in the inland trails in winter along the tops.
Please remember it is not always sunny like the brochures show, so be prepared for the wet weather that can occur at any time and remember the trees need the rain to grow! However the region does enjoy about 2500 hours of sunshine a year so it is likely you will be needing that sunblock.
For the map of Abel Tasman National Park click here
about Golden Bay
Golden Bay is a very attractive destination in lots of ways:
Nature: Golden Bay has a huge variety of scenery to offer in a small space. Bordered by Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks, with an awesome coastline, means that are so many different outdoor opportunities and places to explore.
Community and Culture: We have a great mix of people with a laid back friendly attitude. Lots of artists, musicians, cafés and community activities make it an interesting place to live or visit. It also feels really safe place - great to bring up children in.
Climate: For me, Golden Bay has the perfect mix of lots of sunshine, enough rain to keep the scenery green and mild temperatures- not too cold or hot.
Here are some of our favorite activities and suggestions for visitors to consider whilst visiting the Bay.
A good place to start is by having a look at the local Golden Bay Promotions website. This will give you updated information about events and attractions in the Bay. www.goldenbaynz.com
Kayak Abel Tasman National Park
Well, of course, we would say that wouldn't we!! However, we passionately feel that the paddle from Tata Beach to Wainui has as much variety and interesting things to see as anywhere we have been in the world. Even after more than the many hundreds of times we have paddled this area we are still thoroughly enjoying it - every day we see something new.
Swimming and relaxing
Lots of safe swimming beaches.
The golden sand beaches start East of Tarakohe harbour. The shallow tidal beaches like Pohara, Ligar Bay can be very warm when the tide comes in over the warm sand. If the tides out, Tata beach always has deep water and this is one of our favourite swimming beaches.
The beaches in Wainui are also great as they are secluded and can be more sheltered from any westerly winds.
The walk to Taupo Point in Abel Tasman National Park (about 1 hour and at mid to low tide) passes some lovely beaches.
A 10 minute drive from Tata Beach and a pleasant 30 minute walk brings you to this neat waterfall in the bush of Abel Tasman. On the way to the fall there is a swing bridge over the Wainui River.
The Grove Scenic Reserve at Clifton, a few minutes drive from Pohara is a stunning example of Rata forest over incredible limestone rock formations. An easy 10 minute walk take you to a platform looking out over Golden Bay. If you are brave go there at night and check out the glow worms!
Taupo Point, Abel Tasman National Park. Start from Wainui car park, 25 minutes drive from Pohara. Of course it's better to kayak, but walking to Taupo Point at mid to low tide takes about 1 hour and passes some gorgeous golden sand beaches.
Taupo Point is an old Maori Pa site and is a magical place. You can camp here for free (because it's off the main walking track, no water supply).
Abel Tasman National Park. Walk from Totaranui or Wainui to this visually spectacular lookout at Separation Point. 2 hours from Totaranui, 2 and half hours from Wainui. The nearest hut is at Whariwharangi Bay (Wainui side). There are 2 campsites on the way from Totaranui side, and Mutton Cove is one of the best campsites we know. It's great to see sunrise and moonrise over the sea.
There are usually lots of seals swimming around Separation Point. You can see out of Farewell Spit if the weather is good.
Abel Tasman National Park. 45 minutes drive from Pohara through the lush rain forest of Abel Tasman takes you to this lovely golden sand beach. A great place to camp or use as a base for kayaking or tramping adventures. There are some easy walks (15-30mins one way) to the close beaches, or you can also walk to Separation Point (2 hours) or Awaroa (1.5 hours).
Water Taxis are available to/from other beaches in Abel Tasman National Park such as Marahau, Anchorage, Torrent Bay, Bark Bay and Awaroa. Usually water taxis do not go further north past Totaranui except by arrangement.
This is one of our favourite walks. Onyl 10 minutes drive from Pohara and an interesting one hour walk brings you to the spectacular entrance to this cave. It's one of the largest cave entrances in the Southern hemisphere. It really is quite breath taking.
Pupu Springs (Waikoropupu Springs) and Pupu walkway
Well the springs are one of the icons of Golden Bay and you won't be disappointed. Try and go when it's sunny to see the lovely blue colour of the crystal clear water.
The Springs discharge an average of 14000 litres of water a second, which is about 40 bath tubs full. Pupu Springs are not only the largest freshwater springs in Australasia, but the world's clearest freshwater springs - the only place where there is known to be water of greater clarity is under the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica!
Lesser known but just as great is the Pupu Walkway, a 2.5 hour walk starting a further 5 minutes drive up Pupu valley.
Mountain Biking in Golden Bay
The Golden Bay Mountain biking community is a very pro-active bunch that has been busy making some world class tracks. Our local haunt is the Rameka track system, it takes in the historic Rameka pack track and leads into the Rameka project. This is an exciting network of tracks that all the family can enjoy. It is easy to access only 5 minutes from Takaka township and is well sign posted. For a map of the Rameka project check out http://tracks.org.nz/track/show/873
We have two seasonal tracks that are open from May until September. The Heaphy track in the Kahurangi National Park, is the jewel in the mountain bike crown. The other seasonal track is Gibbs Hill in the Abel Tasman National Park, a 2hr ride with breathtaking veiws of Golden Bay.
We are lucky to have two bike shops in Golden Bay. Both will give you information about where to ride and will happily hire you bikes.
For more information about the Rameka project where to ride and how to get involved pop into The Quiet Revolution . They can arrange a shuttle for you if needed and you can find them in the main street.
A wonderful natural phenomena. You can take one of the tours out to the end of the Spit or otherwise walk some of the way yourself or take a horse. Another amazing Golden Bay destination.
Kahurangi National Park
Created in 1996, Kahurangi is New Zealands newest and the second largest national park. Kahurangi means treasured pocession, it is home to many New Zealands rarest species with a diverse landscape, there is a reason why Lord of the rings was filmed here. The park surrounds Golden Bay and has a diverse range of walking and mountain bike trails, its worthy of an explore!
After all that outdoor action why not relax and eat yourself up at one of our excellent cafes and bars. Our favourites include the Mussel Inn (watch out for their HUGE chocolate sundaes and great range of homemade beers), Totally Roasted in Pohara for coffee and cake, Wholemeal in Takaka for atmosphere and Sans Souci for top quality meals in a great setting.
With so many artists in Golden Bay you can get some neat stuff buying direct from them. Check out the Information Centre in Takaka which can give you a map and description of where and who to visit.