New Zealand's best hiking trails are classified as "Great Walks" and explore some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Arguably the most spectacular coastal trail (called "track" in New Zealand) is the Abel Tasman Coast Track. The trail follows one of the most spectacular stretches of New Zealand's coastline, characterized by sunny weather, perfect beaches, virgin forests, whales, and even penguins.
New Zealand is a dream destination for hiking and camping (although bear in mind that camping is heavily regulated in New Zealand). The largest national park in New Zealand is Fiordland National Park which is home to the world-famous Milford and Doubtful Sounds.
Abel Tasman Coast Track - New Zealand's Most Stunning Coastal Trail
The Abel Tasman Coast Track extends for 37 miles or 60 kilometers and traces the coast of the Abel Tasman National Park on the northern end of New Zealand's South Island. The national park is named after the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who became the first European to discover New Zealand in 1642. It is New Zealand's smallest national park.
- Length: 60 kilometers or 37 miles
- Visitors: Around 200,000 Annually
Unlike some other famous tracks (like the Milford Track), the Abel Tasman Coast Track is exceptionally sunny by New Zealand standards.
The Abel Tasman Coast Track is the most popular trail in New Zealand, receiving around 200,000 visitors annually.
It is in the stunning northwest corner of the South Island, just a short drive from the small city of Nelson. This region has some of New Zealand's most spectacular scenery with plenty of other activities to enjoy, like horseback riding on the beach and water sports.
Seasons & Hiking The Abel Tasman Coast Track
The Abel Tasman Coast Track is an all-season trail that can be completed at any time in the year. The weather in winter is mild (although it can be a bit on the dreary side). It is also well sheltered and well maintained. It is also one of two main trails in the Abel Tasman National Park - the other being the Abel Tasman Inland Track.
- Season: Year-Round
- Duration: 3 to 5 Days One Way
- Entry Fee: None
Abel Tasman Coastal Track can also be accessed at different points along the coast via water taxis. There are water taxis and boat operators who ferry people to and from different points with published schedules. Before or after hiking the trail, one of the great activities to enjoy is to go sea kayaking along the protected coastline.
People are free to hike the trail by themselves (guided tours are also an option). It is free to use, but there are fees to stay at the huts (shelters) on the trail.
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track also traces one of the largest tidal ranges in New Zealand. There are parts of the track that can only be crossed at low tide. Tidal schedules are published, so hikers should refer to them to plan their crossings.
Camping & Accommodation On Abel Tasman Coastal Track
If one would like to hike the whole trail, then one will need to stay overnight. To stay overnight, hikers need to use the officially designated accommodation (campsites and huts). These also need to be reserved in advance during the most popular months. Another option is to stay in a boat moored off the coast.
- Peak Season: 1 October through 30 April
- Off-Peak Season: 1 May through 30 September
Peak Season Hut Fees:
- New Zealand Citizens: NZD $42.00 ($25 USD) Per Person Per Night
- International Visitors: NZD $56.00 ($34.00 USD) Per Person Per Night
The hut fees vary by season, and there are discounted for children under the age of 18 years of age.
Peak Season Campsite Fees:
- New Zealand Citizens: NZD $16.00 ($10 USD) Per Person Per Night
- International Visitors: NZD $24.00 ($15.00 USD) Per Person Per Night
New Zealand is very strict about camping in designated areas and protecting the environment. Offenders will be fined, and it is common for New Zealanders to notify the Department of Conservation if people are camping in the wrong place.
Camping in unapproved places in popular areas like Abel Tasman (or even sleeping in the car) is highly like to incur a fine.