Able Tasman National Park
Named after the Dutch explorer who was the first European to discover New Zealand in 1642, Abel Tasman is one of New Zealand’s most popular and idyllic national parks. Superb beaches, a rugged backdrop of bush clad hills and lots of sunshine draw over 30,000 people a year to the park’s magnificent coastal track.
Apart from the Marahau entrance, the park is also accessible by road from several other points. From Takaka, in Golden Bay, a partly unsealed road leads to the Wainui and Totaranui entrances. The Coast Track can be reached by boat from Kaiteriteri or even directly from Nelson. The Coast Track
By far the most popular walk in Abel Tasman is the Coast Track. Classified as one of New Zealand’s Great Walks it runs a distance of 31 miles (51km) between Marahau at the southern end and Wainui at the northern end. It is not even necessary to walk the track in its entirety as a water taxi service picks people up or drops them off at various points along the coast. Once on the track, hikers can lounge on magnificent beaches, cool off in the clear blue sea and no doubt spend a large amount of time scratching uncovered limbs that have been bitten by those irksome sandflies.
But the sandfly is not the only problem in paradise; all this beauty and the relative ease with which the track can be walked, means crowded huts and other hikers around every corner. The solution to the accommodation problem is to bring a tent but the best way to avoid the crowds is to visit outside the peak season (November to Easter).
Another way to be (more or less) alone with nature is to follow the coast by kayak. In fact kayaking around Abel Tasman is fast becoming a popular alternative to the Coast Track as it allows you to
visit small off-shore islands and to come into closer contact with the park’s fascinating marine-life; seals, penguins and dolphins might all be seen in a day’s leisurely paddling.
The Inland Track
The Inland Track is rather more strenuous than its coastal equivalent but also much less crowded. It canbe started from either Marahau or Wainui and would require from three to five days to complete. A
detour from the track can be made to Harwood’s Hole, a huge vertical shaft that is over 1,214ft (370m) deep. Visitors are warned not to approach the edge of the hole as the surrounding screen is very unstable. The hole can also be reached along Canaan Road, a rough side road that branches off SH60 en route to Takaka.
The Park CafÃ© at the Marahau end of the Coast Track is a good place to fill up on homemade cooking before or after doing the track. They also serve the excellent Nelson-brewed Mac’s beer. Towards the northern end of the track the Awaroa Lodge & CafÃ© caters to ravenous hikers and day-trippers.