The Abel Tasman coast has one of the largest tidal ranges in New Zealand. This feature creates spectacular tidal estuaries that change from wide lagoons of calm, azure water to expanses of golden sand laced by trickling streams.
Tides on the Abel Tasman coast can rise and fall up to 5.2 metres (around 15 feet) between high and low tides.
If you take a Guided Walk or Guided Sea Kayak trip, your Guide knows how to make the most of your day, timed around the tides. To create your own adventure, make sure you have accurate Tide Timetables as the tides vary each day.
Tide timetables for the Abel Tasman coast can be found at Tides for Abel Tasman National Park (opens in new window).
If you have tide timetables for Nelson, subtract 20 minutes from all Nelson readings to get approximate tide times in Abel Tasman National Park.
Along the coastal track, all estuaries can be crossed comfortably for around 2 hours either side of low tide.
For all crossings, your feet will get wet. Crossing outside of the recommended times is possible if you are prepared to be wet above the waist.
It is not recommended to cross the larger estuaries at Torrent Bay and Awaroa with bare feet. Shells and course sand are hard on the toughest feet. Click here for more information on suitable footwear (Note this is a PDF file).
Most tidal crossings have a high tide alternative that will keep you dry but will add extra time and distance to your walk.
Bark Bay: the high tide track around the inlet will add about 20 minutes walking time.
Torrent Bay: It takes about 1.5 hours to walk from Anchorage to Torrent Bay via the high tide track. The low tide track across the estuary takes about 20 minutes.
No High Tide alternative track at Awaroa.
If walking from Awaroa to Totaranui, a large tidal estuary must be crossed within 1 hour 30 minutes before and 2 hours after low tide for safety and comfort.
Tidal Crossing at Onetahuti
A narrow creek in the centre of Onetahuti Beach will get your feet wet on all tides. Within 2 hours of high tide, it will be over thigh deep.