With its endless golden beaches and pristine water, the Abel Tasman Coastal Track has quickly become one of our favourite Break the Resistance adventures.

We kayaked, ran, hiked and camped over 4 days and three nights in mid-November.

If you’re planning a visit to this stunning part of New Zealand (and we highly recommend you do!) here are some of our top tips on getting the most out of your experience:

Tip 1 – Know the tides

Familiarise yourself with tide times before you go. We planned our campsites around the low tide crossing at Awaroa which gave us enough time to get to Waiharakeke campsite. Awaroa is only passable 2 hours either side of low tide. If you don’t time your crossing right, you may be sleeping rough for a night. Tidal crossings can shave hours off your journey and it’s another great experience, walking through an almost barren landscape, like something out of the Hunger Games.

tidal crossing abel tasman

Tidal crossings a.k.a. The Hunger Games

Tip 2 –  Local knows best

We found that because it’s such a tourist hotspot, there are LOTS of different companies offering similar services and they’re usually pretty helpful in terms of making your itinerary work.

We reached out to R&R Kayaks who helped us plan a 5 hour kayaking journey from our start in Marahau to the drop off point in Anchorage, and even dropped off our bags at our first campsite Bark Bay, another 2 hours away. We also made sure we got out to Adele island to see the seals up close!

Kayaking in abel tasman

R&R Kayaks HQ in Marahau

Tip 3 – Make sure to book early in peak months

Our adventure was scheduled for the fringe of Summer, and being a little blase about booking, we thought 3 weeks out would be enough time to get everything sorted.

Wrong.

Hut availability becomes extremely limited during this period! Camping is a good alternative (and you can choose from 19 campsites along the track!), but make sure you’ve accounted for the additional weight it involves: carrying around a tent for the 60km of the track and a sleeping mat.

Our campsites were:

Night 1: Bark Bay

Night 2: Waiharakeke Bay

Night 3: Mutton Cove

Tip 4 –  Pack these essentials!

  • Mosquito repellent and mosquito coils – Mozzies and sandflies in the Abel Tasman are KILLER. We took two little bottles of spray and after four days, both were empty!
  • Bungee cords – We bought some cords at the Warehouse and they were incredibly useful for squeezing extra stuff on the outside of our bags!
  • Hand sanitiser – Pretty rustic toilet facilities. Hand sanitiser is definitely a necessity.
  • Warm layers – It gets pretty cold at night so bring a few layers!
  • Enough food! We totally under anticipated how much food we would need. All I can say is the burger and fries we had when we reached Nelson were much appreciated.

Meal ideas during the hike:

  • Breakfast: Instant oats with water (you can get handy sachets from the supermarket)
  • Lunch: Crackers with cheese and salami
  • Dinner: Backcountry freeze dried meals
  • Snacks: Protein or Muesli bars, frooze balls, trail mix, billtong

Tip 5 – Download the app

The handy (and free) Abel Tasman Visitor app has up-to-date information on weather, tides, maps, points of interest, history, plants, wildlife and walking times in Abel Tasman.

There isn’t much reception along the track so it’s also worth having maps pre-downloaded on your phone, we use Viewranger to see topomaps with GPS.

Tip 6 – Choose your tent spot wisely

We quickly found certain things make a campsite more desirable. Shade! Being next to a picnic table! Trees with sturdy branches (so you can hang clothes)! All these things are first come first serve so if you see a good spot, don’t let it go!

It’s also nice to wake up to a view!

camping in abel tasman

View from our tent at Mutton Cove

Tip 7 –  Consider running if you’re stretched for time

Reaching Mutton Cove around 4pm, and knowing we had to be at Totaranui the next day for an 11:30am water taxi, we knew we wouldn’t have enough time to complete the track. We decided to run the final section instead, and it was so FREEING!

We left our packs in our tent, had some snacks and headed out at 6pm, after the blazing hot sun had gone down a bit. (The great thing about summer is that daylight hangs around pretty much until 8:30 or 9pm!)

Tip 8 –  Do make a stop at Separation Point

Running from Mutton Cove, it took us about 45 mins to reach Separation Point.  Project Janszoon, working with DOC are trying to establish a gannet colony there so it was pretty loud, but we were rewarded with spectacular cliffside views and the feeling of being at the top of New Zealand’s South Island!

Tip 9 – Beware the Wekas

The Abel Tasman Coastal track has HEAPS of Wekas, relatively big birds that go right for your food – so don’t leave it lying around outside of your tent. They’re super bold!

wildlife in abel tasman weka birds

Spot the Weka!

Tip 10 – Starry Starry night

The days are pretty full-on so it’s easy to fall asleep at night – but don’t leave Abel Tasman without stargazing at night! And it’s a great opportunity to practice long exposure, night photography.

stargazing in abel tasman night photography

Stargazing under a velvet sky 

Bonus tip

There are no shops along the route but there is a cafe tucked away along a part of the track where you can enjoy some cold beers, you just have to find it!