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New Zealand hikesNew Zealand Abel Tasman Coastal Track Route Guide

Discover Abel Tasman Coastal Track, one of Kahurangi parks top destinations for tramping and hiking track adventures - the Abel Tasman Coastal Track,Tasman and Golden Bays, New Zealand.

Facts
Time 3 - 5 days
Distance 51km 30 km (Marahau to Wainui) One Way
Grade easy
Highest Point
150m, at several places
Huts 4 Great Walks Huts, 21 Great Walks Campsites, DOC serviced campground (bookings required) and visitor centre at Totaranui
Maps

Map 260 N25 Tarakohe
Map 260 N26 Takaka

 
Bark Bay
Bark Bay
Torrent Bay
Torrent Bay
Frenchman Cove
Frenchman Cove
 
Abel Tasman Coastal Track Route Guide

Abel Tasman Coastal track is approximately 46 km long. It may be walked from either end or in part, beginning at any number of access points (see Access).

Location
Distance
Times
Marahau to Anchorage Hut
8 km
3 hrs(4)
Anchorage Hut (Torrest Bay) to Bark Bay
9 km
2.5 hrs (3)
Bark Bay to Awaroa Bay
11 km
2.5 hrs (3)
Awaroa Bay to Totaranui
6 km
1.5 hrs (2)
Totaranui to Whariwharangi Bay
3 hrs ( 3.5)
Whariwharangi Bay to Wainui Inlet  
1 - 1.5 hrs
Totaranui to Wainui Inlet
13 km
4.5 hrs

This route guide will describe the entire track in the following five sections, beginning at Wainui Bay in the north and ending at Marahau in the south:

Travelling times given remain the same whether you walk north-south or the reverse. The total average travelling time for the Coast Track is 17 hours so that a very fit, skilled tramper, travelling light and getting the tides right could accomplish the trip in one long, summer's day. But observation of one's surroundings is reduced in direct proportion to the speed of travel (and, one might add, the weight of one's load). Abel Tasman Coastal Track is the highest quality long-distance walking track in New Zealand and is up to wheelchair standard in parts! It is also the most popular. During the summer you can expect to have a social rather than a wilderness experience.

 
Wainui Bay
Wainui Bay
Wainui Falls
Wainui Falls
Tukurua Beach
Tukurua Beach
 
Wainui to Totaranui
Approx. 13 km. Walking time: 4.5 hours
For the first 8 km the Abel Tasman Coastal track follows old roads which once served farms at Wharewharangi Bay and Mutton Cove. For 10 min from the car park it runs north along the coast before turning east and zigzagging up 200m to the ridge-top (30 min). From the ridge-top the Abel Tasman Coastal track trends due north before turning east and descending into the gully above Wharewharangi Hut (1.5 hours from the car park). From the hut the Abel Tasman Coastal track runs east behind old trees and the top of the beach and then begins an easy winding climb over low hills (120m) to Mutton Cove. At the Wharewharangi / Mutton Cove Saddle, the loop track to Separation Point branches left ( allow 1.5 hours for round trip to Mutton Cove). From Mutton Cove the Abel Tasman Coastal track runs south, along Anatakapau beach, then climbs and sidles over rocky headlands before dropping down to Anapai Bay (about an hour from Mutton Cove). From Anapai the Abel Tasman Coastal track climbs south up a gully and over a ridge to Totaranui ( a further 45 minutes).
 

During your first climb at the beginning of the Abel Tasman Coastal track, the view steadily widens over Wainui Bay. From the ridge crest, you can see the full curve of Golden Bay sweeping northwest to Farewell Spit. Closer at hand, look out for the distinct clubbed shape of Taupo Point to the north. This was the most important pa site for Ngati Tumatakokori and Ngati Apa Maori in the region and was almost certainly where Tasman's murderes' hailed from. Taupo Point was a natural fort site; on its upper slopes 25 terraces have been identified which formed the base for palisaded terraces.

Gibbs Track branches north at the ridge-top, climbing to Gibbs Hill at 409 m. These commemorate William Gibbs whose Totaranui farm estate encompassed all the land in your immediate view during the latter part of the 19th century. Wharewharangi farm and homestead were established in the 1890s. In 1973 the farm was sold to the national park and land once cleared to grass for grazing is slowly regenerating to native forest cover. Now in a growth phase termed 'induced shrubland', the country is largely covered with manuka, kanuka, gorse and mikimiki on ridges and well drained slopes; with bracken and fernland dominant areas with deeper and moister soils. This low cover nurtures the development of broad-leaved native shrubs which, in turn, will shelter slow-growing forest canopy trees. If these 'induced shrublands' are not damaged by fire or browsing mammals they will, over a centure or more, return to complex forest communities, perhaps similar to those destroyed in the early days of European Settlement.

 
Mutton Cove
Mutton Cove
Anapai
Anapai
Wharewharangi
Wharewharangi
 

The superb beaches and transparent waters of Wharewharangi, Mutton Cove and Anapai ('good cave') Bay will tempt you to stop and sunbathe, swim or dive. If you have time, the side trip to Separation Point and its automatic light is worthwhile for the great sea vistas from the headland named by D'Urville to mark the separation of Tasman and Golden Bays. Clockwise you can see around the horizon from Cape Farewell to Nelson via D'Urville Island. Below you , where the great granite ridge system is finally submerged by the sea, swirling tidal rips pull at rocks sometimes topped by seals basking in the sun. Lower down you'll find massive tutu with black mamaku tree ferns, wineberry, kawakawa, and pukatea with their flanged buttressed roots. There are nikau palms and then, as you climb, rimu, rata and, just before the ridge crest, black and hard beech trees.

Totaranui, with its road access and famous golden beach, is the focus for recreational activity in Abel Tasman National Park. Though developed for park visitors since the old farming estate was taken over in 1948m the marks of William Gibb's Totaranui are still there - the grand avvenue of planes and macrocarpas leading from the beach towards the site of the old homestead; macrocarpas at the top and bottom of the long beach which mark the sites of Lagood and Fern cottages respectively; and there are the remains of a big water-wheel which once generated power ofr house and dairy. The park visitor centre is at the sea end of the avenue of the boat landing is at the top (north) end of the beach. While paddocks adjacent to the small lagoon have been allowed to revert to wetland, favouring fernbirds, pukekos and wekas, the land behind the beach has been sensitively developed is an attractive camping ground.

Huts: Wharewharangi Bay: 20 bunks, open fire.

NB Totaranui Camping ground is very busy from 20 December till 31 January. Check at Takaka Park Headquarters before planning a stay there during peak holiday period. Tidetables and information are available at visitor centre.

 
Totaranui Beach
Totaranui Beach
Awaroa Bay Track
Awaroa Bay Track
Goat Bay
Goat Bay
 
Totaranui to Awaroa
Approx. 6 km Walking time: 2 hours

Walking south from camping ground behind beach and make a short climb to Skinner Point (lookout: 15 minutes). Descend to Goat Bay and walk along beach before climbing rock steps to an elevated bench leading along and down to Waiharakeke ('flax creek') Bay (about 1 hour from Totaranui to Waiharakeke Stream). Follow the true left bank of the stream inland for a short distance, past junction with track to Awaroa Road, then trend south again over an easy rise to Pound Creek and descent to the edge of Awaroa Inlet ( 30 minutes from Waiharakeke). Abel Tasman Coastal track exit / entry to beach is marked by a white footprint sign on a stump. There are tidetables here. Of all the lagoons and estuaries you cross while walking the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, Awaroa is the biggest and the most serious undertaking.

Remember that if you have not timed your arrival for low tide there is no track around the edge of the inlet to which you can have recourse. Awaroa Hut is clearly visible on the southern shore and orange marker posts at the mouth of Pound Creek and near the hut indicate the best crossing line. Unless the tide is right out, however, and the two main channels are fully visible, do not cross in a direct line between the posts but swing to the right (i.e. west) in a long arc, crossing the tidal streams individually above their junction with large channels. Allow 30 minutes for the crossing to the hut. While there are attractive beaches, views and some cut-over-bush on this section of the track, the outstanding natural feature is the huge estuary of Awaroa ('long river') Inlet.

Huts: Awaroa ; 25 bunks; pot belly stove ; tidetables

 
Awaroa Bay Inlet
Awaroa Bay Inlet
Awaroa Beach
Awaroa Beach
Awaroa Bay
Awaroa Bay
 
Awaroa Bay to Bark Bay
Approx. 11 km. Walking time: 3.5 hours

From hut walk east, following markers at the high tide mark. Cross Sawpit Point on Abel Tasman Coastal track through gorse and lupins, then follow beach round to Venture Creek and hulk. Cross creek to paddocks on private property and follow markers beside grass airstrip. Past homestead block veer right into valley which leads to easy climb up to Tonga Saddle. Descend on south above Richardson Stream to edge of Big Tonga or Onetahuti Beach and lagoon ( 1 hour from Awaroa hut). Walk to very end of beach where track climbs 70 m above cliffs and then drops to old Tonga Quarry site ( about 2 hours from Awaroa). Climb out of gully as long rising traverse takes you to over 150m at junction with Stony Hill track (45 min). A quick and steep descent takes you to edge of Bark Bay lagood (15 min). If tide is out, wade lagoon entrance to spit. Hut is 10 minutes away on western side of lagoon. If tide is in, take shore track around head of lagoon to hut (about 20 minutes).

This section of Abel Tasman Coastal Track is best for beaches - the long lagoon sweep of Onetahuti ('runaway beach'), secluded Tonga ('south wind') Beach and sun-trapped spit of Bark Bay. Toast and roast until the sea breeze cools your skin in late morning!

The coastline here best reveals the endless workings of seawater on the granite bones of the park. The granite was formed, under conditions of great pressure and heat, far below the earth's surface. As it cooled, granite contracted, forming shrinkage cracks or joints. When mountain-building earth movements exposed the granite to the air, water and vegetable acids began to work through the joints, corrode the feldspar and mica and loosen the quartz crystals which make up the rock. The beaches of the region are completely made up of these crystals, the remains of totally disintegrated granite.

Idyllic Bark Bay was named for the bark of beech and rimu which was once collected here for the tanning of hides and fishing nets. Originally called Wairima ('five streams') by the Maori, Bark Bay was settled by the Huffam Family (1870 - 1904) whose name is attached to the chief of those streams. The redwoods and one of two ancient fruit trees near the hut date from their time.

Hut: Bark Bay; 26 bunks; open fire; tidetables

 
Little Tonga Bay
Little Tonga Bay
Little Tonga Bay
Little Tonga Bay
Bark Bay
Bark Bay
 
Bark Bay to Torrent Bay
Approx. 7 - 8 km. Walking time: 2.5- 3 hours

Climb out of Bark Bay to south, about 100 m up to junction with South Head viewpoint track (20 minutes; allow 30 minutes return to viewpoint). Sidle down and through bush, past junction with track to Sandfly Bay, to suspension bridge over Falls River (20 minutes; alternatively river crossing 10 minutes upstream). Climb to second viewpoint track (20 minutes; allow 30 minutes to return to viewpoint). Then sidle for half an hour round headwaters of Frenchman Bay to pine trees at boundary between national park and county land. Descend steeply to Torrent Bay settlement and follow large orange discs along beach ( 15 minutes to wharf). If you intend to stay at Torrent Bay hut, or if the tide is in, follow shore track around head of lagoon ( 30 minutes to hut). From Torrent Bay hut to Anchorage Hut, continue travelling around the head of the lagoon if the tide is in, or cross over mudflats if tide is out, to peninsular neck ( about 30 minutes). If tide is out when you arrive at Torrent Bay wharf, and you wish to go Anchorage Hut, walk directly south over inlet mudflats. Cross peninsula neck to The Anchorage Beach which you follow to hut at eastern end (45 minutes wharf to Anchorage Hut).

Hut: Anchorage; 25 bunks, woodburning stove, tidetables. Torrent Bay: 8 bunks

 
Sandfly Bay
Sandfly Bay
Te Pukeatea Bay
Te Pukatea Bay
Coquille Bay
Coquille Bay
 
Torrent Bay to Marahau
Approx. 9km. Walking time: 4 hours
From the Torrent Bay, cross or walk round head of lagoon and follow indicated Abel Tasman Coastal track to Marahau (not Holyoake Clearing). Climb up 120 m over bare hillsides to meet Abel Tasman Coastal track between Marahau and The Anchorage at ridge crest. From Anchorage Hut, go back down beach for short distance, then turn left and climb for a similar height and distance, past turn-off to Watering Cove. Continue along ridge until junction with Abel Tasman Coastal track from Torrent Bay Hut ( about 1 hour by both routes). From Abel Tasman Coastal track junction the wide and easy walkway contours around gully and spur, descending steadily to the coastline of Astrolabe Roadstead (about 1.5 hours from both huts to Lesson Creek and Stillwell Bay). From Stillwell Bay the Abel Tasman Coastal track follows coastline about 70 m above the water's edge to Tinline Bay ( 1 hour from Stillwell Bay). From Tinline, follow the bulldozed track around the foot of the hill to the park boundary. Check out in the logbook provided. The final stage of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track crosses embarkments and bridges over the Marahau River Estuary to the Marahau car park ( an hour from Tinline). Maps, tidetables, track and transport information are here. Marahau Motor Camp is 1.2 km down the unsealed road, and the national park ranger lives in Marahau Valley Road (first turn right, 1 km).
 
Astrolabe Roadstead
Astrolabe Roadstead
Cyathea Cove
Cyathea Cove
Marahau Track
Marahau Track
 
 
Related
 

Further Information

Department of Conservation

Nelson Visitor Centre
Cnr Trafalgar & Halifax Streets NELSON
Phone: (03) 548 2304
Email: vin@tourism-nelson.co.nz or enquiries@abeltasmangreenrush.co.nz
Web: www.doc.govt.nz

 

 
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