The Abel Tasman Track is one of the most stunning coastal walks in the world. With gorgeous golden-sandy beaches and lush native forest, this walk is a must do for any outdoor enthusiast. One of New Zealand’s great walks, this 4-5 day trek stretches from Marahau to Wainui.
For those looking for shorter walks, there’s a number of day walking options available. Bark Bay to Marahau is a stunning Abel Tasman Day Walk, which will give you a taste of what this wonderful track has to offer.
Starting with the water taxi along the coastline, this is a great introduction to the Abel Tasman National Park. This coastal trip has scenic stopping points along the way and gives a different perspective of the park with stunning vistas of bays with golden sand, lush forest and seals sunbathing on rocks.
From the landing point at Bark Bay, the walk follows the coastline south and then climbs inland to the Falls Footbridge. The track continues inland with more spectacular views to Torrent Bay. Cleopatra’s pool is not far away and worth the side trip if you have the time. Then onto Anchorage, this is a beautiful bay and a great place to stop for lunch.
The track from Anchorage offers more spectacular views as the track meanders its way to Marahau.
A good level of fitness is required, as its 26 kilometres in distance. This includes Bark Bay Hut, Cleopatra’s pool and walking to the Abel Tasman Centre at the completion of the walk. Allow 6 to 7 hours, depending on fitness levels. If you’re after a shorter walk then Bark Bay to Anchorage would be my recommendation, there are a number of side trips off this track and a water taxi pick-up from Anchorage can also be arranged. Or Anchorage to Marahau is a nice option too; meander in and out of bays back to your car or bus.
Bark Bay to Anchorage: 3-3.5 hours. 12.5 kilometres
From the water taxi landing point at Bark Bay, walk to the end of the beach. If you’re interested in visiting Bark Bay Hut, take the track to the right and follow for 3 minutes to the Hut. Complete the log book, take some photos and return along the track to the landing point. Continue south, the track follows the bay to Medland’s Beach and then climbs inland with a steady climb to the South Head Ridge. From here there are views into Sandfly Bay as the track descends gently to the Falls Footbridge. This section should take about 45 minutes.
From the Falls Bridge, the track climbs and then undulates as it continues its inland quest through lovely native forest and more magnificent views. After 20 or 30 minutes there’s a stunning view of Frenchman Bay and another 30 minutes of walking will bring you to Torrent Bay. The views on the descent are some of the best vistas you will see. Torrent Bay is a favourite holiday spot with many cottages or holiday baches in the area. At the far end of the bay there are two walking options; if the tide is low there’s an opportunity to take the low tide route across the bay which will cut 50 to 60 minutes off the walk. Otherwise, take the track around the bay; this is your best option if you plan to see Cleopatra’s pool. Both routes are clearly marked, so just follow the route you wish to take. The turnoff to Cleopatra’s pool is 30 minutes from Torrent Bay on the high tide track. Allow an extra half hour or more if you plan to swim there…it takes 10 minutes from the main track to reach the pool. Return on the same track.
From the Cleopatra turn off continue onto the footbridge that crosses the Torrent River. From here the track climbs to a turnoff, take the track indicating Anchorage Bay. There are great views of Torrent and Anchorage Bays from this track. At the next junction and if time is against you it may be best to take the track to Marahau instead of descending to Anchorage. From the junction, the track descends steeply to Anchorage Bay, wander along the beach to Anchorage Hut. Water bottles can be refilled here; it’s also a nice spot for lunch. Allow 35 minutes from the Cleopatra turn off to reach Anchorage Hut.
Anchorage to Marahau: 3-3.5 hours, 13.5 kilometres
Head back along the beach and half way along is another track that heads to Marahau. Take this track it climbs steadily with great views back to Anchorage and Torrent Bay. After 15 minutes there’s a track junction for Watering Cove, continue climbing for another 10 minutes brings you to a lookout point offering views to the south. Continue on for another 5 minutes brings you to another track junction. Take the track to the left indicating Marahau. The track doesn’t climb much more and meanders in and out of bays with great views as you head south along the coastline. There are plenty of opportunities to visit some of these bays if time allows. The track is a well-benched track and very easy to follow.
For this day walk tramping boots are optional if you prefer them wear them, otherwise a pair of walking or running shoes is all you need.
This Abel Tasman Walk starts and finishes at Marahau, the gateway to The Abel Tasman National Park. Marahau is 67 kilometres from Nelson or 19 kilometres from Motueka.
I used the Marahau Water Taxi Service to get to Bark Bay. Their office is at the Abel Tasman Centre on the Marahau Waterfront you can’t miss it. They have a secure day parking area at the back of the centre. When the walk is complete, follow the road to the centre, it’s about 1 kilometre. I definitely recommend them, very friendly and informative their water taxi service is in the perfect location for this walk.
There is a large range of accommodation options in Nelson, Motueka or Tasman Region. From backpacker hostels, motels and hotels, to self-contained apartments and luxury private retreats. I use Booking.com and Cheap hotels for all my accommodation needs and have found them to be very good; they offer great deals and rates on all accommodation types.
For more information or travel tips on how to get to New Zealand’s day walks. Check out my blog on how to travel cheaper.
What to Take
I suggest taking some warm clothes, food and drink. Take plenty of water, if you run short drink bottles can be refilled at Anchorage Hut.
- Daypack (20-30L)
- A waterproof jacket or raincoat
- Comfortable footwear
- Thermal and fleece clothing for warmth
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- An Emergency First Aid Kit
- A map
Find out more today
For more information on what to bring on this Abel Tasman Walk and other great walks in New Zealand. Check my blog on what to take hiking.
To print the above map, click on Bark Bay to Marahau highlighted at the top of the map. The printing and PDF option at the bottom of this page will print or download the post except for the map. Once selected, choose actions to print the map. This map gives great information for getting to the start of the track, however, it’s only a guide of the route, for more detail on the track click on the topomap below, and this can also be printed.
For more information on where the ascents and descents are. Plus the distance and height at any point on the map, click on Bark Bay to Marahau highlighted at the top of the map. This will enlarge the map. Then click the box to show elevation, the graph will appear below the map. Run your cursor over the elevation graph, this will display on the map where the ascents and descents are. It will also give you the distance and height at any point on the map. It’s a useful tool for planning your walk. The topomap below gives similar information, especially the ascents and descents. However, you need to know how to read those maps to get that information. The mapometer map gives you that information and more by simply moving the cursor over the graph.
Expect some variation in times depending on conditions and personal fitness levels. I’ve graded this a medium walk, there’s a number of short climbs and the track undulates with climbs no more than 100 metres. DOC (The Department of Conservation) has done a great job building and maintaining this track. In hiking terms, this track is described as a well-benched track, which means it is like a footpath that is easy to follow and walk on. I would rate this track as one of the best walking tracks in New Zealand and that’s why I mentioned walking or running shoes is all you require. This is similar to, day walks on the Routeburn and other great walking tracks of New Zealand. In comparison, the tracks in other National Parks and Forest Parks are tramping tracks, which can be muddy and rooty in places and a little more challenging.
The rest of this walk is pretty easy; the tracks are well defined and well-marked, the stream crossings are bridged and the duration of the walk is between 6 and 7 hours. Walks that I regard as hard are generally over 6 hours, have long steep climbs, have river crossings and requires good navigational skills.
Enjoy your walk and feel free to leave any suggestions or comments?
Learn more about NZ’s amazing walks!
Interested in discovering more of New Zealand’s incredible walks? Take a look at our Top Five Day Walks in NZ and other great walks throughout New Zealand. It’s a great way to see the rest of the country.