Abel Tasman National Park is well known for its beautiful golden beaches, granite cliffs, and its world-famous coast track. Whether you are planning to visit the Abel Tasman National Park for one day or three days the best way to access the park is with the Abel Tasman Sea Shuttel service.
The Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle is locally owned family business, everything has been built by the Knapp family’s own hands, specifically designed for the conditions of the park. You will see this first hand when you board the boat from the easy access gangway, to the top deck viewing platform and of course the friendly welcome on-board.
I would recommend spending 2-3 days in the park to truly explore all the wonderful beaches, bays and scenery the park has to offer. The Sea Shuttle service offers a 3 day pass, for approximately $153 per person, which allows you to be dropped off and picked up each day from one of the multiple locations the shuttle operates. The office staff are very helpful and can customize a program to suit your fitness level, below is the 3 day itinerary I completed and I would highly recommend.
Day 1: Medlands Beach to Anchorage, 14.3km
As this is your first day on-board the Sea Shuttle I would recommend taking the ferry service at 9am from Kaiteriteri, be sure to take it all the way up to Totaranui and back down to Medlands Beach. This way you will get a stunning view of the entire rugged Abel Tasman coast line before you start your hike. On the way you will pass by Split Apple Rock, a Fur Seal colony and some amazing bays and beaches so make sure you have a window seat or a good viewing spot on the upper deck.
You will arrive at Medlands beach at approximately 11.30am, I suggest stopping here for an early lunch as there are picnic tables, toilets and a water tap. It is important to note that you will need to bring all your own food and water with you on this hike, and remember what you bring in you must take out with you.
Heading South from Medlands Beach you will come across Sandfly Bay, Boundary Bay, Torrent Bay and cross a beautiful swing bridge. As a quick side trip be sure to check out Cleopatra’s Pool which has a natural stone water slide, but be warned the water is rather chilly.
Depending on how quickly you walk you will make it to Anchorage in the mid to late afternoon. There is a shuttle service departing at 3.45pm and 5pm to take you back to Kaiteriteri.
Day 2: Tonga Quarry to Awaroa, 13.1km
After some much needed rest it’s time to rise and shine and do it all again. I would suggest catching the 9am ferry, as its much cooler in the mornings and disembark the boat at Medlands Beach around 10am. Today you will head north and see Mosquito Bay, Tonga Quarry, walk along the beach at Onetahuti and trek through the bush to Awaroa.
Again depending on your fitness, you will reach Awaroa sometime in the early afternoon. We arrived around 1pm, just in time for lunch at Peppers Café inside the lodge. They offer a range of sandwiches, hot lunch specials, cold drinks, as well as beer and cider on tap. If you would prefer something more casual there is a bar that serves beer and pizza roughly 300m from the lodge.
There is a shuttle that departs at 2.45pm and 4.15pm from Awaroa, just be mindful that it can be a 15 minute walk to the ferry if it is low tide, but there are signs and people to assist you with the location of the ferry pickup.
Day 3: Anchorage to Apple Tree Bay, 7km
If your legs are feeling a little tired by day 3 don’t worry it’s a much shorter day. You can choose to have a sleep in and complete the hike in the afternoon or if you are an early riser get it done first thing and enjoy the rest of your day relaxing on the beach.
Boarding the shuttle from Kaiteriteri you will disembark in Anchorage and head south to Apple Tree Bay. There is lots to see on the way including, Tepukatea Bay, Watering Cove and Stillwell Bay.
What to bring
Before heading out into the Abel Tasman National Park it is important to note that the available facilities are very limited and you therefore need to be prepared. Below is a list of things I would recommend taking with you:
- Water and food (while there is limited water available in places you should be prepared to carry all the water you will need for the day)
- Sun cream
- Insect repellent
- Swim wear
- Sturdy hiking shoes
- Hiking poles if you need them as sections can be steep
- Camera for all that wonderful scenery
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