One Day in Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand with lush forest, bright blue water, and breathtaking coastline. It is possible to get a good taste of Abel Tasman National Park in one day by taking advantage of the water taxis that can take you to different sections of the track. This guide will tell you everything you need to know to get the most of your day in Abel Tasman National Park.
How to Get to Abel Tasman National Park
The south entrance to Abel Tasman National Park is located only about 1 hour from Nelson, making it a perfect day trip. The most convenient way to get to Abel Tasman and explore the south island of New Zealand is with a car. Book a car on Discover Cars which searches across rental car companies to help you find the best deal.
To get to Nelson: If you are coming from North Island you can fly from Wellington to Nelson Airport. Another option is to take a ferry from Wellington to Picton and then drive or take a bus to Nelson from there. If you are coming from a different destination on the South Island the best way to get here is to drive or fly, depending on how far away you are coming from.
To get to Abel Tasman National Park from Nelson: You can drive or take a bus with ScenicNZ Abel Tasman to get to Marahau, the town located at the south entrance of Abel Tasman National Park. From Marahau you can hike, take a boat cruise, or kayak to explore the park.
Where to Stay Near Abel Tasman National Park
In order to visit Abel Tasman National Park in one day you will want to stay close to the park so you have the full day to explore. We stayed in Marahau which is the town located at the south entrance of the park. We found this one-bedroom chalet with incredible views, tucked away in the forest. The large patio was perfect for enjoying the sunset, and the place was very comfortable and private. It was one of our favorite places that we stayed during our time in New Zealand and I would highly recommend staying there. It was very convenient to stay so close to the park, and this area is beautiful.
There are not many shops or restaurants in Marahau, so if you decide to stay there you will want to bring food and anything else you would need with you. The closest gas station to Marahau is 20 minutes away in Riwaka so don’t forget to fill up gas on the way. You can find a handful of restaurants in Marahau including The Park Cafe and Hooked on Marahau. Keep in mind they are open limited days and hours which depend on the season, so make sure to check in advance.
Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Milford Sound
One Day in Abel Tasman National Park: Hike Bark Bay to Anchorage Bay
If you only have one day to spend in Abel Tasman National Park you can hike this beautiful section of the Abel Tasman Coast Track. To hike from Bark Bay to Anchorage Bay you would need to take a water taxi in the morning to Bark Bay to start your hike and another water taxi back to Marahau from Anchorage Bay at the end of the day.
Marahau Water Taxis offer transportation to Bark Bay and other bays in Abel Tasman National Park. Make sure to book the water taxi ahead of time so you don’t miss out, especially for the early departures. You can refer to Marahau Water Taxis website to see the most updated prices and schedule. The company has water taxis going northbound and southbound, with multiple stops a day at each bay. Don’t forget to check the tide times at the visitor center before embarking on the water taxi because depending on the tide there are different hiking routes you can take.
Start your day with one of the earliest water taxis to Bark Bay so you will have plenty of time to hike and enjoy the beaches. Don’t rush by Bark Bay as it is one of the prettiest spots on this trail. From Bark Bay the trail will take you on a windy path through the forest with scenic ocean views. One of the highlights of this trail is walking on a 47-meter long suspension bridge called Falls River Swing Bridge.
The trail will continue through the forest down to Torrent Bay, with views of the bay on the way down. Within two hours of low tide you can walk across Torrent Bay estuary for a shortcut instead of winding through the forest. Keep in mind that even when the tide is low there can still be some water in the estuary so bring shoes that you don’t mind getting wet or plan to take your shoes off for the crossing. My go-to shoes for activities like this are these walking sandals.
After crossing Torrent Bay you will reach a short path through a forest that will lead you to Anchorage Bay. Spend time exploring this scenic bay, checking out different caves and rock formations and swimming in the water. Keep in mind that there can be sand flies so you may not want to sit still for too long, and definitely need to bring bug spray.
Finish your day in Abel Tasman National Park with a boat ride back to Marahau from Anchorage Bay. One of the best parts of spending a day in Abel Tasman National Park is enjoying the coastline from the boat.
One Day in Abel Tasman National Park: Cruise and Walking Tour
Another way to explore Abel Tasman National Park in one day is with an organized tour with Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles. You can choose from three different trip options, all of which include a cruise to where your hike starts and back from where your hike ends. The options range from 7-10.5 km of walking, and allow you to explore a further section of the park. The three options you can choose from are walking from Apple Tree Bay to Anchorage Beach, walking from Medlands Beach to Anchorage Beach, or walking from Awaroa to Medlands Beach.
Abel Tasman Day Trip: Boat, Kayak, Hike
The most convenient way to explore Abel Tasman National Park in one day is by booking this Abel Tasman Day Trip. The day trip starts with a boat cruise which will take you around Split Apple Rock all the way to Tonga Island Marine Reserve. This tour allows you to explore the park by boat, kayak, and foot. You will get kayaks and snorkeling gear to use to explore Abel Tasman National Park. You can also hike along Pitt Head Loop with views of Te Pukatea Bay.
What to Bring for One Day in Abel Tasman National Park
- Daypack: Bring a comfortable backpack to carry your snacks, camera, and other things you may need for the day.
- Bug spray: There are usually sand flies in Abel Tasman National Park. Save yourself from getting itchy bites by bringing bug spray.
- Walking Sandals: If you plan on walking through Torrent Bay estuary you should bring waterproof sandals so your hiking shoes don’t get wet since there is usually still some water in the bay during low tide. At the end of the day to get on the water taxi from Anchorage you may also have to get into knee-deep water to get on the boat.
- Water Bottle: Don’t forget to bring a reusable water bottle with plenty of water for the day.
- Jacket: The water taxi ride can get cold, especially in the mornings, so make sure to bring a jacket with you.
- Beach Towel: Bring a towel with you to relax on the beach at Bark Bay and Anchorage Bay. This is my go-to travel beach towel since it is light, cute, and dries quickly.
- Snacks: There isn’t food in most of the park so make sure to bring snacks with you.
- Sunscreen and Sunglasses: Those two things you know you need but tend to forget.
More Things to Do Near Abel Tasman National Park
If you decide to spend more time in Tasman Bay and the surrounding area near Abel Tasman National Park here are suggestions for more things to do:
- This one-day kayak rental provides all the equipment you need to kayak along the coast of Abel Tasman National Park. The benefit of this kayak rental is that you are not tied to a group and can explore at your own pace.
- Book a 4-hour scenic cruise of Abel Tasman National Park
- Sort walk to swim at Split Apple Rock Beach
- Relax at Kaiteriteri and Little Kaiteriteri Beach
- Explore Ngarua Caves: Limestone caves in the Takaka hill range with guides cave tours
- See Waikoropupu Springs: Largest freshwater spring in New Zealand
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