This pristine national park had to be one of the first posts on my new blog for a few reasons. It was my favourite place to visit in NZ and has since become the benchmark for every beach or coastal national park. This national park is classed a a DOC site (department of conservation) and the coastal track starts at Marahau and finishes up at Mutton Cove. The best thing about this DOC site is the fact that cars are not allowed past Marahau. The full coastal track is a well known tramping trail and takes approximately 3-4 days. During one of my visits and walks I started at Bark Bay and Finished at Awaroa Resort and Beach (Pictured above).
We were dropped at our chosen start point and then walked to Awaroa via aqua taxi. Along the walk and on the boat we saw numerous seals, blue penguins and even bottle nosed dolphins. The bird and cicadas echoed all along the trail and at times the views from the trail became so wild it was like a scene out of Jurassic Park. This was about a 4 hour walk if you are continually walking. But obviously we stopped a lot, at every view point, every beach to relax and enjoy.
We were lucky enough to only pass one or two people on the tramping trail. Although we saw a large group of people kayaking further down the trail. For this particular walk we got an aqua taxi to pick us up at Kaiteriteri. A near by beach just south of the national park. I also recommend for camping in summer especially at New Year, it is spectacular.
It is worth mentioning Tonga Island which is visible from the track and not far from the land is where you are most likely to spot lots of wildlife. And look out for split apple rock. Some more pictures and Tips below.
You can camp in the national park along the trail but you would obviously need to be prepared to take your equipment with you and be sure to leave no rubbish behind.
The full trail takes about 3-4 days but you can make it longer if you want to just be sure to book your camping well in advance.
Take jandals and togs (Flip flops and swimwear) and sunscreen
If you only have a day to spare I promise you, you wont regret the visit (it is a short drive from Nelson or even Marlborough if you don't mind getting up early).
If like the above you do only have a day spare try one of the boat trips from below, they are reasonably priced and you will also learn more about the national park. There is the option to just pay for the tour with a small self guided walk that is picked up from Kaiterireri (similar to the one that I did).
There is an option to sail on a Catamaran which some of the backpackers I lived with did on another day.
There is also a scenic flight which are usually hundreds of dollars, but I've popped it below as it is half the price of others and has great reviews (mostly there for my own sake so I can book this).
Finally (and this one I have not done yet, but if you love the sea and being on water), those kayaks I mentioned earlier you can kayak all or part of the trail if you prefer this to walking.
After living in the area for a while and working in luxury hotels and backpackers to fund more travels, I used to help make bookings and always had rave reviews back from Abel Tasman Kayaks.