▨ Jamie McHale

Abel Tasman Coastal Track, New Zealand

undefined · November 2017

The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is one of the Great Walks of New Zealand, run by the Department of Conservation. It runs from Marahu to Wainui Bay on the western end of the north coast of South Island. The walk typically takes 3-5 days, I walked the track to Totaranui over three days. I shot a video of my walk on my GoPro:

The first day I walked from Marahu to Bark Bay Hut (24km), combining the recommended first two days into one. The track is well maintained, cutting along the hills and bays at the edge of the sea. I saw a small family of Weka feeding on a beach; they seem fairly friendly towards people.

I paused to have lunch at Anchorage Bay, a beautiful beach where the first recommended hut is located. Beautiful clear water, blue skies and glittering beaches.

The hut is set back behind a small inlet, with the campsite located on a short spur between the inlet and the wider bay.

Jamie McHale standing in front of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track sign
A view over a golden beach with blue mountains visible across the Tasman Bay
Weka chicks striding towards the camera
A view over the blue water of the Tasman Bay
A fern with sunlight streaming from behind
A view over forest to the blue sea of the bay
Trees around a green water pool
Tall dark trees rise in the bright sunshine
A view over a sandy inlet with the Tasman Bay in the background
A view over a sandy inlet with the Tasman Bay in the background
A suspension bridge leads into a forest

Day two was 13.5km from Bark Bay to Awaroa Hut. The weather was fantastic. Although this day was shorter than the previous day there was still a fair amount of up-and-down to contend with. I wish I’d brought my walking poles to save my knees on the descents! The weather was pretty hot; I left massive sweat marks on the benches I sat on.

The hut was large, with communal shared-bunk rooms and a filtered water tap. It sits on the edge of Awaroa Bay, which is perfect for a dip to get out of the heat. We were treated to a beautiful sunset over the hills, reflected in the water of the bay.

Clouds and plane trails over a small dark island
A view through siloutted trees to a green and blue bay with a light sanded beach
A black Oyster Catcher with an orange bill feeds in shallow waters on a golden beach
White flowers
My backpack on a bench with a giant sweat mark
Sunset over the mountains at Awaroa Hut

On the third day I walked from Awaroa Hut to Totaranui. The first part of the walk across Awaroa Bay is determined by the tide times, as you have to wade through water to reach the opposite side. I’d recommend brining a light pair of flip-flops for this part (and to wear in the huts) as the water was too high for boots in places, and the shells are sharp when going barefoot! I spotted some Pied Shags drying themselves on the beaches en-route. I decided to call off the walk at Totaranui, as my knees were fragile from adjusting to walking with a heavy pack, and I didn’t want to ruin the Heaphy Track that I was doing two days later.

Two Pied Shags on a golden-white beach
A close up of barnacles on a gnarly rock
The forest comes down to a golden beach
A high up view of Totaranui beach through some trees
Sweat marks on my Patagonia cap

Other Great Walks I have completed