FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about our trips in Abel Tasman National Park

Can I do an unguided walk and stay overnight at your Beachfront Lodges in the Park?
All of our overnight trips are hosted at our Lodges. Guides travel with each group and are available for advice to help you make the most of each day. You don’t have to walk with a Guide. For safety reasons, all kayaking is guided. Our trips are all-inclusive with ensuite accommodation, meals, boat and luggage transfers so the cost is the same whether you choose to walk with a Guide or on your own.

Click on the headings below for questions and answers.


When is the best time to travel?

Abel Tasman National Park is a great place to visit any time:
•    Highest number of sunshine hours in NZ year round
•    Rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year
•    Most NZ trees are evergreen, so our native forest is colourful in all seasons
•    Temperatures are mild year-round. Maximum summer average is 22 C (72 F). Minimum winter average 3 C (37 F). More details here.

Our busiest time is January/February. Outside of these times the Park is just as spectacular. During our cooler months (April to September) days are often sunny and calm. This is the best time for photography and viewing the wildlife.

Our Beachfront Lodges have open fires and are centrally heated, so are cosy year-round.

What will the weather be like?

NZ Met Service puts the Nelson/Motueka area amongst the sunniest places in the country with over 2,350 bright sunshine hours per year. Average rainfall in the Nelson region is 988 mm (38 inches) per year. This rises to about 1800mm as you travel north to Totaranui.

Click here for Nelson region 10-day forecast.

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Should I start at Kaiteriteri or Marahau?

Our boats operate out of Kaiteriteri. There are connecting coaches between Marahau and Kaiteriteri. If you are walking out of the Park, or staying in Marahau please contact us for transfer details.

Are there any shops in the National Park?

There are no shops within the boundaries of Abel National Park. There is a cafe/bar aboard the Vista Cruise serving a selection of drinks, snacks, light meals, sunscreen, insect repellent and disposable rain coats. There is one commercial restaurant at Peppers Awaroa Lodge.

Wilsons Abel Tasman guests on overnight breaks have lunch included. Our day trip guests are welcome to bring their own lunch and refreshments or order a delicious picnic from us (order by 6pm the night before your trip).

Can I drink the water in the Park?

Along the coastal track, there are filtered drinking water taps at the following DOC huts and camping areas: Anchorage, Bark Bay, Awaroa and Totaranui. It is not recommended to drink water from other sources unless it has been filtered, or boiled for at least 3 minutes. All water at our Lodges is safe to drink (filtered and UV sterilised).

Where can I park my car?

There are safe, all-day parking areas in the public carpark at Kaiteriteri and in the Department of Conservation carpark at the start of Abel Tasman Coast Track at Marahau. Guests on our overnight trips are directed to safe overnight parking.

Will I get my feet wet?

It is usually possible to keep your feet dry during beach transfers on and off the Vista Cruise.  However, depending on weather and tidal conditions, you might have to remove your shoes to guarantee they stay dry.  Please be prepared to remove your shoes and bring a small towel to dry your feet. 

All low-tide alternative routes on the coastal track can be crossed comfortably within 2 hours either side of low tide but your feet will get wet. More details here. If you want to keep your feet dry, take the high tide track.

When is low tide?

The size and and time of tides varies by about 1 hour each day. For tides in Abel Tasman National Park, go to the Tide Timetables page on Dept. of Conservation website.  If you have a booklet of Tide Times for the South Island, subtract 20 minutes for tide times given for Nelson.

Can I walk independently?

As part of a guided walking group you are welcome to find time on your own and we can provide you with a comprehensive set of track notes and maps to guide you along the way. If If you want to make your own decisions, then book our 3-Day Self-Guided Walk.

All Cruise & Walk Day Trips are self-guided. Contact us if you would like to share the knowledge and added security of walking with one of our professional Guides.


How hard is the walking?

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is well formed and mostly shaded by native forest. There are some climbs between bays with no point higher than 200 metres (650 ft). The track weaves between long, golden-sand beaches including both bush and beach walking. The easiest and flattest section runs between Stilwell Bay and Marahau.

Walking times given assume a slow but steady walking pace and do not include time for long breaks. Guided walkers are given as much time as they like to complete each section.

Can I avoid tidal crossings?

Most bays and estuaries have a high-tide alternative track that will add time and distance to your walk but will keep your feet dry. For more information go to the heading "Tidal Crossings" on our Tides Page.

Do I have to walk with a Guide?

Guides travel with each group and are available for advice to help you make the most of each day. You don’t have to walk with your Guide and they will give you all the information you need to walk on your own, including a trail map. If you choose to walk on your own, your Guide cannot be responsible for your safety.

If you prefer maximum flexibility and want to make your own decisions, book our 3 Day Self-Guided Walk.


How much experience do I need to kayak?

When conditions are calm, sea kayaking is easy and very little skill or strength is required. Abel Tasman is renowned for its protected coastline but it is impossible to guarantee the conditions. It might be necessary to paddle against the wind to the nearest beach. Our guides provide full training and if their instructions are followed kayaking is safe and fun. Double kayaks are used for stability and the advantage of having two people sharing the paddling effort.

Can I kayak on my own?

Double kayaks are used for their ease of handling, stability, carrying capacity and advantage of having two people sharing the paddling effort. Single travellers will be matched with a suitable paddling partner, or a guide. As single kayaks are more difficult to control and much less stable, guests are not usually permitted to use them unless prior arrangements have been made. To use a single kayak, a guest must show kayak log books proving previous sea kayaking experience in all weather conditions, and ability to self-rescue.

What should I wear for kayaking?

Please avoid cotton clothing, especially denim. It gets cold and heavy when wet. Modern, thermal fabrics are best. You can stay dry, but it is best to expect to get wet. We provide a spray jacket and buoyancy vest that will keep you warm on most days when paddling. Bring a spare set of clothing and warm layer to be stored in the kayak so you can change into dry gear if necessary. Always bring some shoes you can walk in, in case weather causes you to land on a beach where some walking might be necessary. Footwear in the kayak is optional. Many people find it more comfortable to wear some foot cover to prevent their heels rubbing against the kayak. Rubber water socks are ideal.  For some examples of suitable footwear, Click Here.

Wilsons Overnight Trips

What time do we start on the first day?

Please be aware that departure times can vary. Contact us to confirm the start/finish times for your chosen departure date before you book flights to Nelson. Our usual departure times are:

  • Between 20 October and 1 April, every day except Wednesday departures:

We board our Vista Cruise at Kaiteriteri in time to depart at 1.00 pm.
Meet at our Motueka Office 11.30 am
Coach pick from your accommodation in Nelson between 10.15 and 10.30 am.
Nelson Airport pick up 10.45 am.
Pick up in Motueka is 11.30 am

  • Between 2 April to 19 October and for every Wednesday departure:

Vista Cruise departs Kaiteriteri 9.20 am
Meet at our Motueka Office 8.15 am
Coach pick from your accommodation in Nelson between 7.15 and 7.30 am and
Nelson Airport pick up 7.45am.
Pick up in Motueka is 8.15 - 8.30 am.

What time do we finish on the last day?

Our coach picks you up from Marahau or Kaiteriteri to return to our Motueka office by 4.30 pm. The coach always gets to Nelson by 5.30 - 6.00 pm. This ensures you will be able to catch flights out of Nelson. If your travel plans require an earlier arrival in Motueka or Nelson, please contact us to discuss your options.

What is the size of a guided group?

Torrent Bay Lodge has 13 twin/double rooms. Meadowbank Homestead At Awaroa has 12 twin/double rooms and 2 self-contained cottages. We have a ratio of 8 kayakers to one guide, and 12 walkers to one guide.

What type of shoes should I take?

For overnight trips with Wilsons Abel Tasman, you will need three sets of footwear:

  1. Comfortable walking shoes - the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is well-formed and heavy hiking boots are not necessary. Some people walk the track in sport sandals, but that is only recommended if you know you are comfortable with minimal support for your feet.

  2. Estuary crossing shoes - there will be some tidal estuary crossings where your feet will get wet. Rock and shells in the estuary sand can be very hard on bare skin. Wet sand sucks onto shoes, making it very difficult to walk in loose fitting footwear. Recommended: rubber water shoes, light sneakers, sport sandals. Not recommended: bare feet or any footwear not firmly fixed to your foot (eg. flip flops, scuffs, jandals, slides, slip-ons etc.). Click here for example of suitable shoes for estuary crossings.
  3. Light shoes or slippers to wear in the lodges.

What do you supply?

As well as a wonderful holiday experience, with skilled, friendly guides (on guided options), chefs and boat crew, we supply: -
  • ALL food from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day: breakfasts, dinners, snacks, fresh fruit, morning and afternoon teas.
  • All linen (bedding and towels) at the lodges
  • 750ml water bottle
  • Lodge luggage bag to transported to our Lodges by boat
  • Waterproof plastic liners for bags
  • For kayakers, all technical and safety equipment is provided, including stable double kayaks, water resistant paddling tops, buoyancy vests, dry bags to keep gear dry in kayak storage hatches (Please note, we cannot guarantee to keep camera equipment or delicate electronic equipment dry)
  •  Day packs are available to borrow.

What meals are included?

From morning tea on Day 1 to lunch on your final day, all meals are included: full breakfast (cooked and continental), morning and afternoon teas, packed lunch (including snacks) and dinner created by our chef and prepared by fully trained staff. Fresh fruit is freely available. Hot drinks and fruit juice are complimentary at our Lodges. Hot drinks during the day are available only to guided walkers and kayakers.

Will I need any cash?

There are no cash transactions at our Lodges. For our overnight guests, the only extra cost is for alcoholic drinks or carbonated drinks (soda pop). We keep a tab for you at our in-house bars, serving local beer, wine and soft drinks. Your account can be paid by cash or credit card at the end of your trip when you return to our office. There can be time to visit a local bar or cafe on the edge of the National Park. Cash will be required of wish to make a purchase there. Tea and coffee on board the Vista Cruise is free of charge for our overnight guests. Other drinks, snacks and light meals are available to purchase on board.

How fit do I have to be?

Walking and kayaking are physical activities, but paddling requires very little skill or strength (see next question) and the Abel Tasman Coast track is very well formed with long flat sections and a few easy grade uphill and downhill sections (the highest point of the track is around 200 metres - 650 feet). You are welcome to travel on one of our boats to shorten your day's paddling or walking. Our five-day itineraries include an extra day at our two beachfront lodges where you can relax and do nothing or allow your guide to plan further exploration of the National Park at a level of activity to suit you.

Should I book the kayaking or the walking option?

If you book the walking option, it is not always possible to change to the kayaking option at short notice because kayaking requires more organisation of specialist equipment. If you are unsure about kayaking, but would like to give it a try, book the kayaking trip remembering that kayaking each day is optional. You can join our guided walkers or travel on one of our boats if you find that kayaking is not for you. Our five-day guided walks can include a good introduction to kayaking with optional sheltered water paddling on days 2 and 4.

Do I need to drop my luggage off before our trip?

If you let us know where you will be staying the night before you travel with us, we will drop off pre-trip information and your overnight luggage bag at most accommodation providers between Nelson and Motueka. If you choose to stay north of Motueka, in Kaiteriteri or Marahau, we ask that you call into our office to pick up your pre-trip package before your departure day. Our bus starts in Nelson and picks up all guests on the way to Motueka on the morning of your departure.

What happens to my luggage?

Your overnight luggage is transported to our lodges by launch. Therefore we do require you to re-pack your luggage into the overnight bag we supply for you to keep (a sports bag 47cm x 35cm x 25cm). Any luggage not required on your trip (including valuables) can be left in secure storage at our office in Motueka. If you let us know where you are staying in the Nelson/Motueka area the night before you travel with us, we will deliver your overnight bag, plastic liners and clothing list to your accommodation. On the morning of your departure, we stop at our Motueka office where you can store luggage (there is time to repack your bags) and we can lend you a day pack if required.

Can I book an overnight stay at your Lodges?

Guests on our guided trips have priority at our Beachfront Lodges. An overnight stay can be available but we recommend a minimum of two nights to fully appreciate the beauty and tranquillity of the National Park. An overnight stay includes transport and luggage transfers from Kaiteriteri, and three meals (dinner, breakfast and lunch) because there are no roads or shops in the National Park.