How To Get There
The track is situated in the Abel Tasman National Park at the northern end of the South Island. Marahau is the closest town to the southern end of the track, in fact Marahau is at the start of the track. At the northern end there are a number of options for access, the campsite at Totaranui Beach is about 30 kilometres along a windy road from Takaka. Whilst the true track end at Takapou Bay is 25 kilometres from Takaka. Marahau and Takaka are sixty kilometres apart on State Highway 60. Marahau is 65 kilometres from the main city in the area, Nelson.
Whilst the track is not a circuit track, there are numerous water taxi services available which will ferry weary trampers back to their start point and their vehicle. These services are mainly based in Marahau and Kaiteriteri, note that some of them will not operate further north than Totaranui Beach. Consequently the most popular route to take is to tramp from Marahau to Totaranui returning via water taxi.
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track has many options as there is a plethora of campsites along it's route, plus the usual DOC huts. For this trip, we decided to camp out choosing smaller campsites in attempt to avoid the crowds. Kayaking the track is an incredibly popular way to complete the route with up to 600 kayakers on the route at any given time! With the numerous water taxi services too, there are a large number of day hikers on the track. So if you are looking for a true New Zealand wilderness experience, you are probably better off avoiding the Abel Tasman Coastal Track.
We started out at Marahau, with the campsite at Watering Cove
as our objective for the day. From the kiosk at the start of the track, a boardwalk leads across an estuary and from there the coastal track begins. For most of this first day the track stays pretty close to the shore, with the occasional climb offering some great views of the beaches and islands.
Along the way we spotted kereru and fantails, plus an exhausted looking DOC worker who had been maintaining the track. One of the prettiest looking beaches was at Stilwell Bay with a pleasant view across to Adele Island.
Just after Stilwell Bay, the track climbs upwards to the top of the ridge that leads out along the peninsular to Anchorage
. About 3.5 hours from the start of the track the junction down to Watering Cove is reached. A gentle 15 minute descent leads to the sheltered camp site. The beach at Watering Cove looks out to Adele Island and has some fine early morning views back towards Sandy Bay and Marahau.
Watering Cove is a small pleasant campsite, with a picnic table and a couple of taps providing water from underground streams, although if used heavily the water supply dries up pretty quickly. The best sites are close to the beach, with the ones further back, whilst more sheltered have lots of tree roots to dig into your back during the night. A couple of kayakers found probably the best spot for their tent - down on the beach, above the high tide mark obviously!
Day Two - Watering Cove Campsite to Tonga Quarry Campsite