The Abel Tasman National Park is located in the north of the south island of New Zealand. It is known for its beautiful blue water and the warm weather. Abel Tasman is also known as being the sunniest place on the south island. You can enjoy the beautiful surrounding in multiple ways, it is perfect for canoeing and kayaking, hiking, biking, camping and going on boat trips.
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Must see & do
Get on the water
The most popular activities in Abel Tasman National Park are kayaking and canoeing. You can, for example, take a tour to the famous Split Rock. You can also look for seals and dolphins that are often spotted here. If you don’t want to canoe or kayak but want to get out on the water, book one of the boat trips. These will also go to Split Rock and look for wildlife.
Abel Tasman Coast Track
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is a long hike of three to five days and is about 60 km. During this walk you can enjoy beautiful beaches, clear water, a natural slide and keep your eyes open for seals. This hike has an average difficulty level, as the path is well marked but there are very steep parts. Please keep in mind that there is a part of the trail where you can only walk when it is low tide. Therefore, check the tide tables before you leave. Some parts of the trail also have to be done by water taxi or canoe. There are 4 cabins and 18 camping spots on the way, but make sure you book on time.
Waikorupupu Springs, also called Pupu Springs, is about a 45-minute drive away from Abel Tasman National Park. Here you will find the second clearest water in the world. Tests show that you can see up to 63 meters under water! The Salt Water Wedell Sea in Antarctica is the only place where the water is even clearer. It is forbidden to enter the water because it is a sacred place for the Maori. However, you can enjoy the sight of the water after a short and easy walk.
Motueka is about half an hour’s drive from Abel Tasman National Park and is the only skydive location in New Zealand where you can see both the north and the south island. In addition, you can also see four national parks full of bright blue water and snowy mountains, the view cannot be any better. They offer a skydive from an altitude of 9000 feet, 13000 feet and 16500 feet (2.7 km, 3.9 km and 5 km). Click here for more information.
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There are not many options for accommodation in the Abel Tasman National Park. If you have your own transportion you can stay in the surrounding villages. If you are traveling by public transport it is difficult to reach these villages, in that case staying in Nelson is a very good option. Do you like to stay in hostels? Then Nelson is highly recommended, I have very good experiences and I have also only heard good stories about the other hostels. See below a mix of options in the area.
The Barn Backpackers – hostel – Marahau – €
Marahau is located just next to the National Park. This hostel has multiple room options, in addition to shared bedrooms, they also have private rooms and camping spots. They have a large outside area where you can sunbathe, have a picnic or play games. It is also on the water so you can swim, kayak and even snorkel or dive here. In addition there is a small cafe on-site. This is the perfect place to stay if you have your own transport. Click here for more information.
Abel Tasman Haven – motel – Marahau – €€
This motel is also located in Marahau, just on the edge of the national park. Here you can rent a room with everything you could possibly need. There is a washing machine, full kitchen, outdoor and indoor seating, a private bathroom, reading lights, radio, flat-screen TV and more. If you don’t want to cook for yourself, there is also a restaurant on site. Click here for more information.
Ocean View Chalets – chalet – Marahau – €€€
If you have a little more money to spend on accommodation, this is a must! These detached, self-sufficient chalets are surrounded by greenery and have a view of the water. The wooden chalets have a balcony with a beautiful view where you can eat, drink a glass of wine or have a BBQ. In addition, like the other accommodation in Marahau, it is a perfect location to discover the Abel Tasman National Park. Click here for more information.
Paradiso backpackers – hostel – Nelson – €
Paradiso backpackers is one of the excellent hostels in Nelson where I have stayed. This hostel is ideal in the summer as it has a pool in the garden. They also have a hot tub, volleyball court, BBQs, billiards and table tennis tables. So there is lots to do and it is a very social place. In terms of rooms, they come in different sizes. They have shared bedrooms and private rooms. If you are not sold yet .. breakfast is also included! Click here for more information.
Delorenzo Studio Apartments – appartementen – Nelson – €€
If you are looking for a little more privacy and luxury, these apartments are an excellent option. All studio apartments have a kitchenette, laundry facilities and a private bathroom. Some apartments also have a spa bath in the apartment. All apartments have a balcony or terrace where you can sit outside. The complex also has a heated swimming pool, BBQs and the option to have dinner delivered to the room. Click here for more information.
Abel Tasman is located in the north of the south island of New Zealand. The nearest town is Nelson, which is approximately an hour away. Nelson also has an airport with flight connections to many places in New Zealand. Several shuttle buses run daily to the park, including those from Intercity and Scenicnz. They depart from Nelson and Marahau, this is a small village located between Nelson and Abel Tasman.
Nelson is the closest to Abel Tasman National Park so most people stay there when visiting the park. There is a lot to do in Nelson. The landscape is beautiful and because of the large amount of artists in the area, you will find many galleries and studios here. In addition, you can enjoy beautiful beaches, there are several hikes to do and you can also go kayaking.
Looking for a quiet day out with the family? Then Rabbit Island is perfect! Not only are there beautiful beaches and lovely forests, but there are also walking and cycling routes and BBQ spots. Hence, this is a great place to relax for a day. Rabbit Island is an island but thanks to a bridge you can drive there. It is approximately 50 minutes from Abel Tasman National Park and 30 minutes from Nelson. Unfortunately Rabbit Island is not accessible by public transport. Remember to bring food because there is nothing available there. Rabbit Island is also a nice lunch stop if you are driving to Abel Tasman Park from Nelson.
Murchison is approximately a 3.5 hour drive from Abel Tasman Park. It is known for the wild waters of the seven rivers in the area. So this is a great place for an adventurous canoe or kayak trip, for rafting and jet boating. Keep in mind that, as mentioned, these are not calm waters, so experience is definitely needed. If you prefer to stay ashore you can take one of the several walking or cycling routes. There are also good places to fish.
The Farewell Spit is the most northern point on the south island. It is approximately an hour and a half drive from Abel Tasman National Park. This sand “dune” is 34 km long and it is home to more than 90 bird species. You can also visit the lighthouse that was built in 1869. Cape Farewell is also nearby, this is a wild, windy place with dramatic cliffs. All in all, it is a very beautiful place! The Farewell Spit and Cape Farewell can also be visited on different tours.
Book your camping site on time
In New Zealand you generally don’t need to reserve camping spots, but for Abel Tasman I highly recommend it, especially if you travel in high season. I went here without a reservation at the beginning of January and it took a lot of effort (and money) to finally find a place to sleep.
Centre of New Zealand walk – Nelson
Looking for an easier, short but beautiful and educational hike? I definitely recommend this one! This walk can be started at the centre of Nelson and takes half an hour to an hour. You will start with a walk through the Botanical Garden, after which you will pass the site of the first rugby match in New Zealand. Then you walk to the top through beautiful wooded paths with beautiful views. This is where you will reach the middle point of New Zealand. Along the way you will see many informative signs about Nelson’s history and the wildlife around you. Moreover, at the top you will learn why it is not actually the middle point of New Zealand.