The Abel Tasman National Park is one of the most pristine places on earth in the Nelson/ Tasman region of New Zealand’s South Island. Find yourself surrounded by golden beaches, clear waters, gorgeous wildlife, beautiful beech forest and incredible activities! There are awesome hiking and kayaking options to choose from but for the purpose of this post I am sharing my favourite Abel Tasman beach, I think you might enjoy!
Picking the best beaches in the Abel Tasman National Park is actually a pretty tough thing to do. This is because there are 30+ bays to pick from! As well as the fact everyone has different preferences.
Most of the beaches have a distinct golden sand colour but some of them are deeper than others. Some beaches are quieter and smaller, some are larger and busier and in a better location and some are downright hard to get to! Since there are endless best beaches in the park I have narrowed it down to my overall favourite as well as the best Abel Tasman beach in the Northern Section, and the Southern section.
The best Abel Tasman beach is…
Te Pukatea Bay
There really is no other Abel Tasman beach that can compare. Te Pukatea Bay is my favourite because of its unmatched beauty and quiet surroundings.
It is a hidden gem located about 3.5 hours walk from Marahau or a 2-hour kayak trip. It is just around the corner (15-minute walk) from Anchorage Bay (the most popular water taxi drop off).
Since you can not get dropped off at Te Pukatea Bay via water taxi it means it is less popular than Anchorage Bay and it has fewer facilities. But, you are able to camp here if you please! There is space for 7 tent sites, 14 campers, 2 long drops and picnic tables! Water must be boiled before use. If I were camping here and needed water I would pop on over to Anchorage Bay and collect some as they have fresh drinking water.
If you fancy a short 45-minute walk while enjoying Te Pukatea Bay head into the Pit Head Loop Track between Anchorage Bay and Te Pukatea Bay. You can see a remarkable view of the Northern section of the park.
The best beaches in the Abel Tasman National Park: Northern Section
The Northern Section runs from Totaranui – Wainui but for the purpose of this post, I am including everything north of the Awaroa inlet (starting with Waiharakeke bay).
1. Mutton Cove
One of the least popular Abel Tasman beaches but one of my favourites is Mutton Cove. Located just 2 hours walk north of Totaranui. Access to Mutton Cove is limited to foot or in some cases kayak. But, only kayak if you have your own or are taking a tour with a company that goes there.
Water taxis only go as far north as Totaranui and this is part of why Mutton Cove is so awesome! It is a heck of a lot quieter than most of the Southern Beaches.
Mutton Cove in and of itself is a beautiful beach with a cute little campsite. The campsite has a toilet and a tap for water (the water must be boiled before drinking). Apart from the stunning bay, my favourite part about Mutton Cove is the fact it is only 20 minutes from one of my favourite detours, Separation Point.
To get there just follow the orange marker at the northern end of Mutton Cove beach. It will take you on a 20-minute journey to the point. Be careful as it is quite a rough path especially down the hill! Hopefully, while you are there you will see a seal or two! And if you are game jump off the rocks into the crystal clear water.
The most popular way of getting to Mutton Cove is by water taxi to Totaranui and then walking 2 hours. Or, walking in from Wainui car park. Roughly a 3-hour walk.
Arguably the longest beach in the Abel Tasman National Park sitting around 1km! With the deepest golden sand and some of the best waves in the whole park. People have been known to surf here! But, it’s not really a surf beach at all…
Totaranui is a great spot for the massive Totaranui campground, it’s accessibility by boat, car or even kayak. It is probably one of the most popular Abel Tasman campsites and is often booked out over the Christmas/New Year period. It is also a useful spot to access the Northern section of the park and is the last water taxi point.
Located in the Abel Tasman Golden Bay area over the Takaka Hill down Abel Tasman drive.
3. Anapai Bay
Just a short 1-1.5 hour walk north of Totaranui will bring you to this quiet paradise. Like Mutton Cove, this is one of the less popular beaches due to its location but its beauty is right up there!
It is less visited than Mutton Cove so if you are keen on some solitude, this is the spot for you! Camping here is nestled between kanuka and mahoe shrubbery just a few steps from the beach. It’s a small campsite with space for 6 sites, 12 people. It has one long drop, a tap with water that needs to be boiled before drinking and a picnic table.
The best Beaches Abel Tasman: Southern Section
1.Bark Bay Abel Tasman
This is a stunner of a bay and a pretty popular stop for hikers, water taxis, kayaks and local boat goers. It is located in roughly the middle of the park, about 6 hours walk (24km) from Marahau making it quite accessible even for a day walk. The beach is rather unique as it has a gorgeous spit and nifty tidal area that can be walked through 2 hours before or 2 hours after low tide.
The great thing about Bark Bay is you really feel off the grid and can nestle here for a while if you please.
Camping here is pretty awesome as you can literally pitch your tent within 3 steps to the golden beach. It is the best Abel Tasman National Park camping experience. The hut is located just behind the camp and tidal estuary. Bark Bay facilities are a little better than the beaches mentioned above. The camping ground has fresh drinking water, a kitchenette, a bunch of toilets and an option for a fire. There is also a hut with the same facilities.
2. Anchorage Bay Abel Tasman
This is probably one of the best Abel Tasman beaches because of its easy access for a day walk, kayaking and the cheapest Abel Tasman water taxi option. I am not one for recommending overcrowded spots but it is one of the most popular beaches for a reason! It is absolutely stunning!
Anchorage Abel Tasman is long, picturesque and in the perfect location. You are able to get here rather easily by water taxi, kayak, foot or your own boat or yacht. The most popular way to get here is to walk in from Marahau (3- 3.5 hours, 12km) and catch a water taxi out! Or, in reverse. Catch a water taxi in and walk out! This is also a popular starting and finishing point for kayaking trips.
The facilities here are pretty good with a large campground that has fresh drinking water, toilets and kitchenettes. There is also a clean, modern hut with double glazing, flushed toilets, four separate bunk rooms, fire and freshwater. One of the best Abel Tasman Doc campsites.
Anchorage bay is pretty special because at the northern end of the beach there is a glow worm cave! As well a little tidal inlet around large rocks. Kayaking into the little tidal inlet at high tide is absolutely stunning and swimming around the rock faces is incredible. It looks quite different at low tide!
How to get to Abel Tasman National Park?
Either via water taxi at Kaiteriteri or Marahau. Self-driving to Marahau, Totaranaui or Wainui or catching Golden Bay coachlines or the Abel Tasman bus.
A few things to remember about the Abel Tasman National Park in the Nelson/Tasman region:
- Abel Tasman water taxis only go as far north as Totaranui.
- The drive from Nelson to Abel Tasman National Park takes roughly 1 hour.
- You can only get fresh drinking water from the bays with a hut. Anchorage, Bark, Awaroa and Whariwharangi.
- You need to pre-book your hut or camping accommodation. If you want to get into a hut in Summer you will need to book weeks in advance.
- There is a low season in the park running from May – September. The bus timetables change and hut and camping prices are cheaper.
- There is limited cellphone reception throughout the park. But, in Summer there are Doc wardens at every hut and are often seen walking along the track. There is also a phone at Torrent Bay and Totaranui.
- There are no gas facilities at the huts or campgrounds so take your own cooker, fuel and lighters with you.
- You can’t buy food on the track and there are no rubbish facilities. Pack in, pack out!
Booking Abel Tasman tours and Abel Tasman activities
Check out some of the best Abel Tasman tours on offer below!
Booking water taxis:
If you would like to book a water taxi throughout the Abel Tasman National Park just think about whether or not you want to depart from Marahau or Kaiteriteri. Marahau is the closet village to the Abel Tasman National Park. Check out a water taxi from Kaiteriteri with Sea Shuttle here.
If you are keen on kayaking part of the Abel Tasman National Park the company I recommend is Marahau Sea Kayaks. They are based in Marahau and have a range of trip options. Check out their website by clicking here.
Booking accommodation in Abel Tasman National Park
If you would like to book accommodation along the Abel Tasman track by staying in a hut or campground you will need to head onto the Department of Conservation website. To do this click here and have a look at the Abel Tasman camping and hut availability and then proceed to book.
Keep in mind peak season is from mid-December to late January in the park and the huts and campgrounds book up throughout the Christmas and New Year period. It is best to book as far in advance as you can. You can always change your booking if you need (some costs involved the closer to the booking date).
If you are not interested in camping in a Doc campsite or hut here are a few different accommodation options for you in and around the Abel Tasman National Park.
Where to stay in Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman camping – I love the Marahau Beach Camp. It is situated in Marahau directly across the road from the Abel Tasman Centre where you can book water taxis, kayak tours and all Abel Tasman outdoor adventures! As well as located across the road from the popular bar and restaurant – Hooked on Marahau.
Luxury Accommodation Abel Tasman- Split Apple Retreat is a luxury health retreat lodge located between Kaiteriteri and Marahau. It is not far from the famous Split Apple rock! It has incredible facilities. Fancy a wellness package? delicious cuisine or a comfy luxury suite overlooking panoramic views of the Abel Tasman National Park? Awaroa Lodge is also another fabulous option for a secluded secret lodge located in the Awaroa village in the Abel Tasman National Park.
Hostel Abel Tasman- The Barn backpackers is the most vibrant backpackers in the Abel Tasman National Park and the closest!
Hotel Abel Tasman- Abel Tasman Lodge is another great accommodation option to stay in Marahau the closest village to the park. Small spacious chalet-style accommodation in a private setting I definitely recommend checking out!
There really is no better place to explore in the Nelson/ Tasman region than the Abel Tasman National Park. I hope this article has helped you decide which Abel Tasman beach you must visit!
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Learn more about the Abel Tasman coastal walk, things to do in Abel Tasman (including canyoning) at my section all about the Abel Tasman National Park.
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