Abel Tasman Coast Track

Our first family Great Walk was spent exploring the stunning bush and white sandy beaches of the Abel Tasman, we had originally tired to do this in April but unfortunately  COVID got in the way and we had to put it on hold till October it ended up been fantastic timing!

Completed: October 2020

Kids ages: Marcus 9yrs old and Meika 8yrs old 

Days/Nights: 4 Days and 3 Nights

The Abel Tasman great walk is a 60km track (one way) located in the Nelson/Tasman region.

It is a well posted costal track that weaves you thorough lush NZ native bush and along beautiful golden sand costal beaches, although there are a few steep hills this track is amazing for young families to complete.

You can compete the track in sections doing day walks, tramp the whole track taking approx 5-6 days or just do smaller sections of the track at a time.

It is also an amazing place to Kayak the coast along the track, or sail up the coast as well.


The most common part to walk is Marahau to Totaranui over 3 or 4 days, this is the section that we did with the kids. We will go back and do the top section (Totaranui to Wainui) as another adventure.

After reading up a bit on the track and the tidal crossings, we made the decision to do the walk over 4 days, 3 nights, We water taxi up to Totaranui and walked out to Marahau.

Our thoughts behind doing it this way was because we did not want to be stressing or rushing to meet the water taxi on our last day with tired kids.

So we decided to tackle it from the top down and not have to rush, as long as we meet the tidal crossing we could take our time and enjoy it. 

Day One; Totaranui to Awaroa - 2hrs, 7km

We started day one with a two hour drive from where we live in Rai Valley to Marahau then followed by a two hour boat ride from Marahau up to Totaranui bay.

We used Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi not only do these guys store your vehicle for you but they are a certified zero carbon business. The amazing boat driver gave us a we scenic tour along the way, firstly dropping down to see split apple rock then stopping in to different inlets along the way. We even see the seal colony and stopped to watch a huge pod of dolphins pass on bay along the way as well.

Once we reached Totaranui we had lunch then started off on the short 2hr walk to Awaroa bay for the night. Knowing we only had to do a short 2hr walk that day we made the most of the incredible views and beautiful beaches along the way, stopping to take in the views with plenty of photo opportunity's. This stretch of the track was an easy walk with not to many large uphill's, you pass on by Goat bay and Waiharakeke bay along the way. 

When we reached the spot where you cross the inlet over to Awaroa bay we had to wait for about 30min for the tide to go out just a bit more so the kids could cross with our getting there packs wet. Luckily there was a toilet there and lots of places for the kids to explore and play while we waited.

After crossing the inlet we made our way past the DOC hut (26 bunks) and up to the campsite (36 campers) and set up for the night.

The Awaroa campsite has neat wee nocks and areas to pitch your tents in, giving you a bit of privacy from other people although on the night we stayed there was only two other tents there. It also has a clothes line, a block of flushing toilets and a sheltered kitchen area with the added benefit of some filtered drinking water!!

We sorted out our camp site, cooked some dinner, then headed off to explore the inlet a bit checking out the beautiful beach and walking past the nesting area in the sand dunes for what I believe was the Pateke/Brown Teal. It was definitely and awesome end to our first day on the track.

Day two started with a steep climb out of Awaroa camp site to the top of the hill where you could look down to Awaroa beach, there is also a side track down to Awaroa lodge were you can buy coffee and woodfire pizza!

We decided not to walk down the hill to check it out as we didn't want to walk back up to the track with our heavy packs on.

After winding down from the top of the hill through some stunning native bush we came out to the boardwalk leading in to Onetahuti bay, crossing the board walk and walking up the beach we stopped at Onetahuti camp site (40 campers) which only took us about 2hrs from Awaroa.

If you had wanted to walk a bit further on day one this would have made a great wee camp spot alternative to Awaroa, approximately 4hrs 30min from Totaranui.

We decided to stop here for lunch and a swim, the camp spot is right by the beach and you can look out over to the ocean from the kitchen shelter.

There is also a flushing toilet here and again filtered drinking water as well.

Just a short 5min stroll up behind the camp site there is Onetahuti pool - a very cute wee waterfall with a shallow pool of water at the bottom of it. Despite it been freezing cold our kids decided to take a wee dip under the waterfall, in the summer I could imagine this would be amazing after a long hot day walking on the track.

Day Two; Awaroa to Bark Bay - 4hrs 30min 13.5km

After lunch and a swim we headed off again to make our way to Bark Bay, we headed up a small hill dropping down into Tonga Quarry checking out the old stone works sight.

Then carrying on up over the hill and making our way way to the inlet to Bark bay. There is a high tide track up around the inlet which only takes 15-20min but we decided since it was almost low tide we would just take our boots off and walk over the inlet.


Bark bay would have to be my most memorable stop on our trip, we pitched our tents at the DOC campsite (80 campers) which is out on a beautiful stretch of sand not far from the DOC hut (34 bunks). We found a great spot under some Rata trees right next to the Kayak racks to make our camp away from the other 10 or so tents there that night, this turned out to be the best decision. Not only did we get the most incredible views but the resident Kaka who had been realised there loved to play in the trees around our camp site. These Kaka were amazing and were a highlight of the trip for me!!!!!

You can read up a bit about the Kaka who were realised at Abel Tasman on the Project Janszoom site.

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