The Must-Dos in Abel Tasman
Golden sand beaches, lush native forest, marine wildlife… How are you going to explore it all? In this list, we’ll go through all the amazing things to do in the Abel Tasman National Park to make that decision a little easier.
Of course, Abel Tasman National Park has its fair share of coastal activities, with kayaking, cruises and scuba diving. There’s also one of the New Zealand Great Walks lining the coast so you can experience it all on a multi-day trek. In fact, you can even see Abel Tasman from the sky in a number of ways, from skydiving to hang gliding. There are plenty of ways to have your own adventure in Abel Tasman.
1. Embark on an Abel Tasman Kayaking Trip
Let’s get it out of the way, shall we? Every photo you’ve probably seen of the Abel Tasman National Park has likely included a kayak. It’s an awesome way to get more intimate with the Abel Tasman coastline and have some close encounters with the wildlife, especially in the Tonga Island Marine Reserve. You have plenty of options when it comes to kayaking in Abel Tasman, including self-guided multi-day hires, guided day tours, and even a mix of kayaking and hiking in day tours. Check out The Sea Kayaking Company on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Kayaking operators are based in Kaiteriteri, Marahau and Tata Beach in Golden Bay.
2. Hike The Abel Tasman Coast Track
Hike from golden-sand beach to golden-sand beach and all the native forest in between on the 60km (37 miles) Abel Tasman Coast Track. The 3-5 days adventure is one of the New Zealand Great Walks meaning that the hut facilities and the track itself are very well maintained. It’s also considered one of the easier Great Walks with only a few hill-climbs along the way. Be aware that there are a couple of major tidal crossings so take this into account when preparing your hike. There are also options for day hikes along the coastal track, such as with Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles – find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Between Marahau and Totoranui. Water taxi services are available from Kaiteriteri and Marahau.
3. Explore Abel Tasman on a Boat Trip
The waters of the Abel Tasman National Park are so inviting! Accept the invitation and get out on the water with one of the many boat trips going into the Abel Tasman National Park. Try a sailing trip for something quiet and relaxing, available with Abel Tasman Sailing Adventures (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). Alternatively, we like Abel Tasman Eco Tours to learn about the fascinating flora and fauna of the national park while beach-hopping. Wilsons Abel Tasman (on Viator and Tripadvisor) or Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles (on Viator and Tripadvisor) also have some amazing options.
Location: Boat trips depart from Kaiteriteri and Marahau.
4. Skydive Over Spectacular Scenery
Make Abel Tasman the place in New Zealand where you take the leap! Skydive Abel Tasman takes you to do a tandem freefall from various heights up to a whopping 20,000ft – the highest skydive in New Zealand! Not only that, but the experience includes a scenic 40-minute flight incorporating views of both the North and South Islands, Abel Tasman’s beautiful beaches, the brilliant blue sea and much more.
Location: Hangar One, 16 College Street, Motueka.
5. Ride the Mountain Bike Trails
Although you can’t mountain bike on most walking tracks in the Abel Tasman National Park, there are a couple of adventurous trails specially designed for mountain biking. Your first option is accessed from the Canaan Downs Car Park at the top of Takaka Hill (beware, it’s a narrow gravel road to get there). From here, access the Rameka Track, Canaan Big Loop and Gold Creek Loop, which you can learn more about on the Department of Conservation website. For more information, head to Mountain Biking in Nelson Tasman.
Location: See the above links for specific locations.
6. Discover More Hiking Trails in the Abel Tasman Wilderness
Yes, there’s more to the Abel Tasman National Park than beaches. The Abel Tasman National Park is also home to dense regenerating native forest where you can get your bird fix and get a true wilderness experience. Some of the best inland hiking tracks are accessed from the Golden Bay side of the national park, such as Harwood’s Hole (45 minutes one way) to see the deepest vertical shaft in New Zealand. There’s also the rugged Inland Track (3 Days) which is another multi-day hiking option in the Abel Tasman National Park. Plus, learn more about the Wainui Falls walk (1h20min return) listed below!
Location: Harwood’s Hole – Canaan Road, Takaka Hill. Inland Track – Marahau on the Abel Tasman Coast Track or Canaan Road, Takaka Hill.
7. Go Canyoning!
To see more of that Abel Tasman wilderness in the most adventurous way possible, try canyoning! Abseil, climb, leap and scramble through the river canyons of the Abel Tasman National Park with Abel Tasman Canyons. See how the experience compares with others across the country in the 7 Best Places for Canyoning in New Zealand.
Location: Pick-ups available from Marahau, Kaiteriteri, Riwaka, Motueka and Tapawera.
8. Experience Scuba Diving
With the Tonga Island Marine Reserve in the heart of the Abel Tasman National Park, the national park is a great location for scuba diving in New Zealand. This protected area for marine life means you’ll see a greater abundance of fish, eels, crays and even marine mammals such as New Zealand fur seals. Hit up Abyss Dive in Nelson for guided diving trips in Abel Tasman.
Location: Tours depart from Nelson Marina, Nelson.
9. Enjoy a Scenic Flight Over the National Park
There’s no lack of scenic plane and helicopter flights to give you a sensational bird’s eye view of the Abel Tasman National Park. Join Helicopters Nelson for an epic helicopter excursion – find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor. Interestingly, there’s also the option to do things a little differently with microlight flights (the only place where you can do it in New Zealand) and hang gliding with Tasman Sky Adventures.
Location: Motueka Airport.
10. Check Out Wainui Falls
A fantastic short walk yet lesser-visited features of the Abel Tasman National Park, Wainui Falls is on the Golden Bay side of the park. Cross farmland for a short distance until you reach lush native forest with scattered granite boulders and a swing bridge leading to the cascading Wainui Falls. Return the same way on this 1h20min return track. For more things to do in Golden Bay, check out 19 Epic Natural Attractions in Golden Bay.
Location: 20km (12 miles) from Takaka. The track starts in Wainui Bay, signposted about 300m (984ft) after crossing the Wainui Bridge.
11. Stay in the Abel Tasman National Park
You know what, you don’t have to do anything. Just book some accommodation in the Abel Tasman National Park, whether it’s a Department of Conservation hut, campsite, lodge or even a boat backpackers, and just relax in the stunning scenery by the beach.
Location: Check out the above links for specific locations.