FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about our trips in Abel Tasman National Park

Guided or Self-Guided?
Explanations and details here: Guided or Self-guided Trips.

Download printable What to Bring files:
What to Bring for Overnight Trips
What to Bring for Day Walks
What to Bring for Day Kayak Trips

What is included?
Kayak trips
Overnight trip

Click on the headings below for more 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 cafe and restaurant at Awaroa. This is called The Awaroa Lodge, operated by a different company. Our lodge at Awaroa, hosting guests on our overnight trips, is called Meadowbank Homestead at Awaroa.

Guests on our overnight breaks have all meals included. 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 free 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 but be prepared to remove shoes and socks. Weather and tidal conditions might involve some wet-foot landing on some beaches.    

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 tide details, go to the Abel Tasman National Park 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 your Guide will help you make the most of each day. You can walk at your own pace and find time on your own, or stay with the group to share stories with your Guide and fellow travellers.

We have comprehensive track notes and maps if you choose to walk on your own. If you want to make your own decisions, are confident using GPS mapping devices and can interpret tidal information, then you might to prefer to 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.

Is there Wifi/cellphone reception?

Coverage varies depending on your service provider. Check coverage maps for:

Project Janzoon Wi-fi hotspots are found at:

  • Marahau park entrance
  • Anchorage campground
  • Torrent Bay Lodge
  • Bark Bay hut and campground
  • Meadowbank Homestead at Awaroa
  • Totaranui

 Project Janszoon is a charitable trust set up to restore the environment. Use of their Wifi network requires a NZ$5 donation, payable by credit card.

Before going into the Park, we recommend downloading the Project Janszoon App, with fascinating stories about the environment and history of Abel Tasman National Park.


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.

What shoes should I wear?

The Coastal track is well formed and hiking boots are not necessary, but wear them if you prefer. Your feet will get wet crossing tidal estuaries. On most tides, you can board and disembark the Vista Cruise with dry feet, but at very low tide, some wading might be required. Be prepared to remove shoes and socks if that is necessary. Click here for Recommended Footwear.

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 with waterproof jacket to be stored in the kayak so you can change into dry gear if necessary.

In the cooler months (April to October) extra thermal layers and socks will ensure your comfort.

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. Always bring some walking shoes in case of emergency. Click here for some footwear examples.

Wilsons Overnight Trips

What time do we start on the first day?

Departure times can vary. Please Contact us to confirm the start/finish times for your chosen departure date before you book flights to Nelson.

Scheduled departure times are:
Between 20 October and 1 April, every day except Wednesday departures:

  • Coach pick from accommodation in Nelson between 10.15 and 10.30 am.
  • Nelson Airport pick up 10.45 am.
  • Motueka pick up 11.15 am
  • Meet at our Motueka Office 11.30 am
  • Vista Cruise departs Kaiteriteri 1.00 pm

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

  • Coach pick from accommodation in Nelson between 7.15 and 7.30 am
  • Nelson Airport pick up 7.45am.
  • Motueka pick up 8.15 am.
  • Meet at our Motueka Office 8.15 am
  • Vista Cruise departs Kaiteriteri 9.20 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 gets to Nelson at 5.30 - 6.00 pm.

If your travel plans require an earlier arrival in Motueka or Nelson, please contact us to discuss your options.

How fit do I have to be?

Walking and kayaking are physical activities, but the Abel Tasman Coast is the ideal place if you are unsure of your fitness level. With our boat back-up, you can choose to shorten the amount of walking or kayaking suggested each day.

Paddling requires very little skill or strength, and your Guide provides full instructions. 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).

Our five-day itineraries include an extra day at our two beachfront lodges where you can relax and unwind, or allow your guide to plan further exploration of the National Park at a level of activity to suit you.

What happens to my luggage?

Your overnight luggage is transferred by boat between Lodges. For security, we ask you to pack overnight requirements into the Lodge Luggage Bag that we supply. If this bag is not delivered to your accommodation the day before your trip with us, there will be time to repack in our Motueka office the morning of your departure.

Any luggage not required on your trip (including valuables) can be left in secure storage at our office in Motueka. Bring all excess baggage to our office on the morning of departure. If you are returning to the same accommodation at the end of your trip, it might be more convenient for you to leave luggage there.

For most accommodation providers in Nelson, Richmond, Mapua or Motueka, if you let us know the address, we deliver your pre-trip package the night before your departure day. If you choose to stay north of Motueka, in Kaiteriteri, Marahau or Golden Bay, we ask that you call into our office to pick up your pre-trip package before your departure day.

What happens to my car?

On the morning of departure, drive to our office at 409 High St, Motueka, and park in Old Wharf Road. After meeting your Guide, follow our bus out of town to safe, off-street parking.

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 shoes do I need?

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
  • Lodge luggage bag with waterproof plastic liner to transported to our Lodges by boat
  • 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. The only extra cost on your overnight trip is for alcohol or carbonated drinks (soda pop). We keep a Bar Tab for you at our in-house bars, serving a selection of 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 if you 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.

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.

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.