Abel Tasman Coast Track – Great Walk

18 November 2018
stillwell bay abel tasman NZ

During my stay in New Zealand I wanted to do at least one great walk! It was my first hike on few days in autonomy. I chose Abel Tasman Coast Track because it’s known as “easy” and is the sunniest region of New Zealand!

  • Booking

The reservation is made on the DOC website. For information, if you have a WHV and at the time of the hike you’ve been in NZ for more than 6 months you can have the local rate! Attention DOC can ask you a proof for the 6 months. In practice, when you book, indicate that your country is the NZ (and not your passeport’s country). The 2018 rate for a night in a hut is $38 ($75 for tourists or NZ for less than 6 months).

You must have with you the paper reservation (you can go print it in an i-site). Attention in the huts there is no electricity neither shower nor stove. It’s really just a hut to sleep on a mattress and make a fire if it’s cold.

  • The route

  • Day 1 : Marahau to Anchorage

After a quick visit to the Motueka i-site to book the return bus I go to the Abel Tasman Coast Track in Marahau. I start the hike at 11am. The weather was slightly cloudy at first but the sky cleared then. Even in the off-season you can see a lot of hikers who are only part of the great walk or just wander on the day.

This first day can stop on a lot of beaches so I advise you to start a little earlier to enjoy! The course is relatively easy, perfect for a warm up! Only the end on the somewhat arid paths seems endless 😥. It is 12.4 km long without counting the detours beach. In general it’s necessary to go down the main road by another short way but often abrupt! You will easily find toilets and water (not drinkable).

Apple tree bay

Stillwell bay (one of my favorite of the hike!)

Upon arrival in Anchorage, the hut is fairly new. There are USB ports to charge your phone if needed. In theory there is a little WIFI but it did not work! And since I didn’t have enough, I pushed to Te Pukatea bay! After laying my backpack in the hut I felt still great enough for this detour 😉.

Te Pukatea bay

  • Day 2 : Anchorage to Bark Bay

Before starting the hike I said “every time there are options not to go at low tide I will take them to see a few more things”. Well actually after the first day to carry my bag I changed my mind😅. So I waited until low tide to start this day! Besides, you will have to take off your shoes and walk on lots of shells (not very nice). If you have the opportunity to bring shoes to go in the water and you have sensitive feet, do not hesitate!

Anchorage at low tide

Sandfly bay

This beach is often cited as one of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand, it was impossible for me to not go! I advise you to find a place to hide your bag because the path is very damaged and steep, to see this beach you need to deserves it!

Meadland beach bay

You can feel that this portion is already a little less borrowed, less toilet and water! When I saw there were on that beach had it I stopped to take a short break 😊.

Bark bay

Arriving close to this beach I was amazed by these landscapes so improbable in New Zealand, I felt in New Caledonia! After leaving my bag I went back to enjoy this beautiful beach!

During this day you hike 11,4km. As the day before, the beginning of the day was a little overcast and the blue sky appeared next. Most people you meet in a hut (or on the trail for those who sleep in a tent) will accompany you to the end of the hike! It’s very nice to find the same heads all the way!

  • Day 3 Bark Bay to Awaroa

For this day, planned to leave before low tide to be present at Onetahuti which is 4.6 km (1h45 according to the indication of the DOC).

Tonga quarry

After a good ascent / descent you arrive on this beach. And there the attraction was: weka! (And their babies) Besides, these birds are not shy at all and very thieves! They don’t hesitate to search your bag for food (I almost lost my bag with my bread 😅).


Arriving on this beautiful beach you will not see immediately the track panel. It’s actually at the end of the beach! In front of this beauty and with a great sun I took the opportunity to have a picnic break 😍.


At the end of the hike, the arrival on Awaroa at low tide is truly magical! The turquoise blue is really impressive, worthy of the most beautiful islands of the Pacific! If you have the courage there is a cafe accessible on the track (with food) but it’s a long detour!

The full day is 13.5km. The hut has a cold shower if you want it!

  • Day 4 Awaroa to Whariwharangi

The beginning of this day can only be officially done between 1.5 hours before and 2 hours after low tide. Arriving the day before the DOC informs us that we can not start the direct path before 13h (while the low tide is at 13h17) but that bypassing a little we can start the day around noon. Around 11:30 we saw hikers cross in the other direction. One of us had binoculars and told us that they only had water up to the knee. So we all took the path of hiking and actually crossing was easy.

Looking at the profile, we had all said “it’s going today it’s flat”. And not really! After the crossing there is a good climb to the peak (in the sun), it’s I think the one that has the most marked! At the end there are two small passes but in reality it’s quite easy. It rises slowly with a lot of fake dishes to “rest” a little. Being the longest day (16.9km) and started quite late I didn’t dawdle much to arrive before dark.


Arrival in this small village is quite psychologically not easy. Yes, because here there is a road, cars returning to the city, etc. It’s tempting to say “I could ask someone to bring me back”. But after a “water” break at the campsite I continued walking. To continue you will have to walk on the road first (it’s not very well indicated).

Then you would start to meet runners who come to practice in a “trail” environment.


I did a mini break in Anapai just to relax a little bit!

Mutton Cove

Then at Mutton Cove you will find a campsite with toilets and water (hallelujah!). It’s here (at the end of the beach) that you can start the detour to go to Separation Point and hope to see some seals.

The evening hut is one of the oldest in New Zealand. It’s really beautiful! Arriving a little late a couple had already started a fire to warm up the interior, a real pleasure! There are rooms upstairs that benefit from the rise of the heat 😊.

  • Day 5 Whariwharangi to Wainui

I thought this morning would be made only of forest with “nothing to see”. Well I was very pleasantly surprised by this stunning view!

I had my bus scheduled at 11am. I arrived with a little margin to be sure. The hike was quite short (5.7km). I booked until Takaka only and did the rest hitchhiking. And thankfully because on the parking in 45 minutes I did not see anyone leave! The hikers of the day arrived but no one left!

In Takaka I finally waited only 10 minutes. Then at the junction with the road that leads to Marahau only 2 minutes (the first car actually).

  • Report

I am really happy to have launched myself this challenge! It was not easy every day and I was happy to find a bed (and a shower !!!) on Sunday night when returning to Nelson. I had a small bulb (due to a badly cut nail) so not much foot issue😉. On the other hand even if with my lifestraw bottle I can take water from the river I was sometimes lacking water on the course so do not hesitate to take the contents of two bottles!

Clearly for those who are good walkers you can largely save one day less. And if you’re doing the Abel Tasman Coast Track with your tent, even if you’re not a great walker, spread the night stops better in just 3 nights.

For the period, I really had a great weather in mid-October. It was a little cold at night, but it was already quite hot during the day! And with the bag on the back I think it would have been much more complicated to do it in the summer for me. While it was a bit too cold to swim but even in summer New Zealand is a little cold for me😅.

  • Content of my bag

During the preparation of this hike I didn’t find a lot of information on “what to put in your bag”. So I made a list for you but also to know if I made my bag correctly for the next time😉.

  • Food

I needed 3 meals a day over 4/5 days so 12 in total. I took :

– 2 noodles
– 1 banana bread
– 1 soft bread
– 1 peanut butter
– 3 energy bars and 3 cereals bars
– 3 energy gels 
– 1 pringles
– 4 drinkable yogourt
– 1 corn
– 1 tuna
– 1/2 crackers pack

  • Personal stuff

I took :

– 1 short
– 1 tracksuit jacket
– 1 sleeping bag
– 1 small pillow
– 5 tee shirts
– 5 spare parts of underwear
– 1 pyjama
– Toiletry bag (with deodorant, wipe, brush, hairband, ecological soap, tiger baulm, sanitary gel, moisturiser cream, sandfly product)
– 1 jandal
– phone charger
– gas stove
– 1 small gas bottle
– 1 spoon
– 1 knife
– 2 small towels
– 1 flash light
– 1 lifestraw bottle
– camera + lens + gopro
– sunglasses

I had exactly what I needed in food! (Well I had a little peanut butter left but not easy to finish the pot in 4 days 😅)
I used only two energy gels

I seriously missed a nail cut! Even if I did not have long fingernails a small adjustment in friction is still needed!
I would have preferred to have more energy bars and less cereal bars (they have a better taste).
My bag was to heavy! Maybe invest in freeze-dried food next time! And take a smaller pot of peanut butter, it weighs!

Well clearly the charger phone only served me the first night because recent hut with USB plug but otherwise not useful.

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1 Comment

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