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15 amazing things to do in Abel Tasman – Beachy bliss

Are you on the lookout for next-level things to do in Abel Tasman?

Join us as we run through all the must-do trails, landmarks, and activities in this incredible part of the South Island.

Although it’s New Zealand’s tiniest National Park, Abel Tasman is a highlight for many travellers.

This gorgeous coastal spot can be explored by kayak, on foot, and even by skydiving (yep, you read that right!).

Not only is this area home to some of the clearest water in the world but granite and marble formations give Abel Tasman plenty of character.

Throw in the native forest, golden sandy beaches, and clear turquoise waters, and it’s easy to see why it’s a stellar spot for tourists and locals alike.

Now let’s explore the best things to do in Abel Tasman – we wish you luck narrowing down these amazing activities and attractions!

A couple paddling on their yellow kayaks in Split Apple Rock.
Kayaking at Split Apple Rock. Photo credit: Fraser Clements.

The Best Things to Do in Abel Tasman National Park

In no particular order, these are our favourite activities and attractions in Abel Tasman National Park.

1. Walk the Abel Tasman Coast Track (in part or full)

We had to kick off our list of things to do in Abel Tasman National Park with the iconic Coast Track.

This incredible track takes you along the balmy beaches and coastal native bush that this part of New Zealand is renowned for.

It runs for an incredible 60 km and takes around 3- 5 days to complete in one direction. So, it’s not a trek for the fainthearted if you plan to cover the entire track.

But it is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks – and one of the easiest ones, at that – which means everything is signposted and it’s manageable for most abilities.

As the Abel Tasman area is relatively mild throughout the entire year, it’s easy to make camping pitstops if you need them, or you can book into various huts. Whatever you choose, just be sure to make your bookings in advance.

We also recommend you stop by some of the smaller side-tracks. In particular, Cleopatra’s Pool, which is an amazing swimming hole with gorgeous clear water.

The clear green waters of Cleopatra’s Pool at Abel Tasman National Park, surrounded by rocks and small boulders.
Cleopatra’s Pool. Photo: Tayler Greenem, NZTT member.

Oh, and make sure you head up the suspension bridge here to catch a glimpse of the Falls River.

If you don’t want to cover the whole track, or you’re short on time, you can make use of a water taxi or cruise. This will get you in/out of the national park quickly, maximising your time to explore by foot.

Four people walking along the Abel Tasman track, with trees on one side and beautiful clear ocean water on the other side.
Walk the Abel Tasman Track. Photo: Miles Holden.

2. Try canyoning

If you’re keen to get your heart racing on a warm summer’s day, you can’t beat a spot of canyoning.

Not sure what canyoning is? Let us quickly fill you in…

Canyoning is essentially walking, swimming, or abseiling down canyons – sometimes you’ll use ziplines and security ropes, and other times you’ll slide, climb and jump.

It gives you an incredible opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty around you while getting an adrenaline rush.

The most reliable company to go canyoning with is Abel Tasman Canyons as they’ve been around for years.

Most experiences tend to last a few hours (unless you choose the big-daddy Waterfall Creek trip), which should give you plenty of time to explore other parts of Abel Tasman.

3. Go kayaking – Our favourite way to see Abel Tasman

Our next suggestion in the area is sea kayaking – and it just so happens to be one of our very favourite things to do there.

Not only can you reach iconic landmarks like the Split Apple Rock, but you can explore the Tonga Arches and Anapai Bay Stacks too.

There’s no shortage of natural rock formations around these parts, that’s for sure!

If you’re looking for specific areas to explore for wildlife spotting, focus on the Tonga Island Marine Reserve.

There, you’ll find everything from crayfish and dolphins to blue penguins, gannets, and shags.

To make life easy, several guided kayak tours visit this spot and most will also include water taxi cruises back to land.

So, whether you want to start in Awaroa and finish at Bark Bay or check out Anchorage, there are countless options available to you.

Two sets of people on yellow double kayaks, paddling in Abel Tasman National Park.
Kayaking towards Pinnacle Island. Photo: Lou McCracken, NZTT member.

4. Explore the marine life on a scuba diving or snorkelling trip

If you’re not in the mood to work your arms with a kayak trip, go scuba diving or snorkelling to spot Abel Tasman’s marine life instead!

It’s one of the best ways to explore the marine life around Tonga Island.

Plus, the area is entirely protected, meaning you’re much more likely to spot eels and crays than at many other New Zealand locations.

And don’t forget those cheeky red rock crabs and hermits either.

The water is clear around these parts, and Foul Point is also an excellent spot to explore for lesser-seen marine life.

And just between us, the north of the reserve is where you should stick to for the most rewarding reefs.

A scuba diver underwater.

5. Enjoy another Abel Tasman walk

Don’t want to take on the Abel Tasman Coast Track?

No worries… there are plenty of other walks you can do in Abel Tasman park.

The Harwoods Hole track is short and sweet if you want to see the native forest (at only 45 minutes one way) – just don’t get too close to the edge.

But if you’re looking for more, feel free to check out the mammoth 3-day Inland Track.

It runs an impressive 41.1 km (one way!) and is deemed an advanced tramping track. So, it’s not advised for beginner trampers without a solid level of fitness.

As with any hike/tramp, make sure you’re carrying appropriate gear like suitable walking shoes and plenty of food and water, and always let someone know when you’re expected to return.

A foot wearing a brown shoe pressed against the rocks of a river.

6. Hire a sailboat or head on a boat trip

If you’re hunting for secluded beaches in Abel Tasman, we recommend you hop on a sailboat.

Abel Tasman Sailing Adventures is one of the most popular picks for scenic cruises around the Nelson Bays. With them, you can board a shared sailing or splash out on a private hire.

While having a sailboat to yourself isn’t exactly one of the cheapest things to do in Abel Tasman National Park, it is a memorable experience!

Motorboats and water taxis are also readily available in the national park.

And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some playful sea pups while journeying along the water.

People on top of a white catamaran in the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park, and someone one a standup paddleboard.
Photo: Abel Tasman Sailing Adventures.

7. Go skydiving

Okay, so we know this experience won’t be for everyone, but if you’ve been yearning to jump out of a plane amongst some of the most spectacular scenery in New Zealand?

Well, you’re in luck.

Skydive Abel Tasman has a wonderful safety record, plus they give our members a 10% discount on all jumps!

Enjoy a scenic flight (for up to 40-minutes) before jumping with your experienced tandem master at a heights of up to 18,000 feet.

Just remember to enjoy the scenery as you’re whizzing through the air!

Tandem skydive showing a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and the land masses below them.

8. Get your heart racing a Mountain Bike Trail

Calling all mountain biking enthusiasts!

There are several different mountain biking trails available in Abel Tasman, varying hugely in difficulty and length. This ensures there is something for everyone.

The Canaan Loop Track is up there with the most popular. This is an intermediate trail down the Canaan Downs Farm.

Most riders take this track clockwise to Wainui Saddle and past the Rameka Track, but it’s just as gorgeous in both directions. Just watch out for slightly rough spots and the part of the trail where it narrows into skinny singletrack.

Or, if you’d like a relatively gentle downhill track, the first 5 km of the Rameka Trail is stellar. Past that point, it’s relatively challenging (but does boast gorgeous wilderness views).

And for something suitable for the family? Gold Creek is one of your best options.

Mountain biking wheel with a red arm and bush behind.

9. Snap pictures of Wainui Falls

The Wainui Falls Track is a must-visit if you want to experience a glorious walk among native bush.

And it leads you to a cascading waterfall which certainly ups its appeal.

It’s a simple and easy 3.4 km return track that features a long swing bridge which is a particular hit with kids.

You’ll also pass granite boulders, tons of old logs, nīkau palms, rātā trees, and ferns – all New Zealand natives.

To get there, you’ll want to pull up to the car park at Wainui Bay which is around 300 metres from the Wainui River Bridge.

The Wainui Falls - a moderately tall single-drop waterfall falling into a pool below, with trees around the edge.
Wainui Falls. Photo: Karen Mackenzie-Howe, NZTT member.

10. Stay overnight and go camping

If you’re not planning to stay in nearby towns like Kaiteriteri, you might want to pitch a tent and camp.

It’s honestly one of the best things to do in Abel Tasman National Park as the weather here is typically mild and the region is stunning.

Prices during the peak season for typical tent camping are between $16 per person and $24 per person.

You can book a tent site online quite easily, but we suggest booking way ahead during peak periods.

Whether you walk into your campsite, or make use of a water taxi/cruise/kayak, the choice is yours… do be aware though, the Abel Tasman Track is not accessible by car.

Did you know? If you don’t fancy heading to one of the 19 tented campgrounds on the Coast Track, you can opt for a glamping or luxury lodge experience.

A red tent pitched on golden sand at Apple Tree Bay. Vibrant blue water behind the tent.
Camping at Apple Tree Bay. Photo: Karen Mackenzie-Howe, NZTT member.

11. Paddle a waka

If you’re keen for an authentic Māori cultural experience in the South Island, Waka Abel Tasman could be just the ticket.

Paddle a Māori waka (canoe) to Toka Ngawhā (Split Apple Rock) while learning a te reo Māori karakia (song), commands and a waka saltue.

You’ll also experience a traditional mihi whakatau (greeting) and will learn about our beautiful native culture.

Oh, and there’s plenty of time for swimming and sunbathing too!

People paddling in a dual-hulled waka boat at sunrise.
Photo: Miles Holden.

12. Take to the skies in a helicopter

Though these helicopter flights depart from Nelson, they take passengers right into the heart of Abel Tasman National Park.

It’s the perfect solution if you’re keen to see the national park but you don’t have the time (or transport) to visit it as most people would.

And, not to mention, it’s one of the most impressive ways to see the park!

Helicopter flying over the turquoise waters of Abel Tasman National Park with a boat sailing through it.

13. Check out the Te Waikoropupu Spring

Perhaps one of the most beautiful spots in this list (which says something as Abel Tasman is stunning), is a visit to the Te Waikoropupu Spring.

This is the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand and is a place of major cultural significance to the local iwi (Māori).

For this reason, you won’t be allowed to swim or even drink from the springs.

But it’s certainly worth a visit to see some of the clearest water ever measured (that’s right, in the world).

We recommend heading out on the 45-minute Te Waikoropupu Springs Walk. It’s easy to tackle and takes you around the perimeter of the water for excellent views of the area.

A couple leaning on the railings while looking at the clear waters of Te Waikoropupū Springs.
The spectacular Te Waikoropupū Springs. Photo credit: Craig Parry.

14. Explore Golden Bay

If you have a little more time, and you prefer to escape the crowds, we highly recommend heading for Golden Bay.

Situated to the north of Abel Tasman National Park, this beautiful stretch of coast is home to golden sand beaches, holiday homes (many of which can be hired for vacation stays) and Farewell Spit.

Whether you explore for the day or stay overnight, Golden Bay is a very special part of New Zealand.

Coastal flowers and grass in front of golden sand and the blue ocean of Tata Beach.
Tata Beach in Golden Bay. Photo: Shellie Evans.

15. Enjoy a day at Kaiteriteri Beach

Last, but certainly not least, on our list is a visit to Kaiteriteri.

Known locally as Kaiteri, this is the gateway to Abel Tasman and a very popular spot to stay and visit.

This stunning beach often features in ‘best beaches of the world’ lists, and for good reason. With golden sand, protected turquoise waters and native tree-lined headlands, this beach is a local gem.

Pack a picnic, or grab fish and chips across the road, then spend the day relaxing on the sand, swimming, kayaking and standup paddleboarding. This is just the place to relax while on a larger New Zealand vacation.

You’ll also find the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park nearby, a playground to entertain the kids (complete with a flying fox), BBQs to cook a good kiwi sausage sizzle and a mini-golf course.

And if the summer crowds prove to be a bit much? Head over to Little Kaiteri, Dummy Bay or Stephens Bays – all of which are quieter than Kaiteri.

Golden sand, turquoise water and NZ native trees make Kaiteriteri Beach beautiful.
Kaiteriteri Beach. Photo: Shellie Evans.

There you have it: the ultimate list of things to do in and around Abel Tasman National Park!

This list should keep you well occupied but if you’re on the hunt for more things to do in Abel Tasman (or want any travel advice), please join our Facebook group.

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