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.
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.
Max. Temps (C/F)
Min. Temps (C/F)
Should I start at Kaiteriteri or Marahau?
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
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 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?
All water at our Lodges is safe to drink. It is filtered and UV sterilised. 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.
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.
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. 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?
We are happy to cater for guests who choose to walk alone, planning their
own day but who require the comfort of a lodge at day's end. We can provide you
with a comprehensive set of track notes and maps to guide you along the way,
and we will provide all the support you need.
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.
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
What time do we start on the first day?
Between 20 October and 18 April, every day except Wednesday
We board our Vista Cruise at Kaiteriteri in time to depart at 1.00 pm. Our
coach picks you up from your accommodation in Nelson between 10.30am and 11.00am
and in Motueka at midday.
Between 19 April to 19 October and for every Wednesday departure:
We depart from Kaiteriteri or Marahau at 9.30 am so our coach will pick you up
in Nelson between 7.30 and 8.00 am or from Motueka at 8.45 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 about 4pm. The coach always gets to Nelson by 5.30pm. This ensures
you will be able to catch flights out of Nelson. If your travel plans require
an earlier arrival in Motueka or Nelson, we can easily arrange this - please contact
What is the size of a guided group?
Torrent Bay Lodge has 13 twin/double rooms. Meadowbank Homestead - 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:
- 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.
- 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 examples of suitable footwear.
- 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 to take any cash?
You will not need any extra money at our lodges. Local beer and wine is available to purchase so we keep an account for you to be paid at the end of your trip when you return to our office. There may be time to visit a local bar or cafe on the edge of the National Park at the end of your trip. You will need a small amount of money if you wish to buy anything 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 150 metres - 500 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 optional sheltered water paddling on days 2 and 4 - a good introduction to kayaking.
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.