Renowned for it's golden sand beaches, crystal blue waters, lush vegetation and being a hikers paradise, this national park has a little something for everyone. Being only accessible by boat or on foot keeps New Zealand's smallest national park in its pristine condition.
With numerous ways to explore and relax in and around the national park, pick your vice and prepare to be in awe. The 3 -5 day coastal hike is the best way to explore the park's rich native bush and its post card perfect beaches in it's entirety. Most people will do the one way hike in 3 days and then take a water taxi back out. But if you're strapped for time or long hikes are just not your thing, then you can easily explore the park by water taxi which will drop you off at one beach and pick you up a few hour later so you can explore different areas and do various parts of the famed Abel Tasman coastal track without the overnight commitment. We chose to be dropped off at one point and picked up at another so we could do a short 2 hour walk and still get a chance to see some stunning views from up top and also relax on a couple of the secluded beaches.
The water taxis have a commentator that will go past some of the iconic spots around the park including split apple rock and out to see fur seals sunbathing on the rocky alcoves. If you want something a bit more active there are numerous tour companies offering kayaking trips that will get you up close and personal with the wildlife and can be a much more relaxing and personal way to explore the natural landscape. Another great way to explore the park if the budget allows, is to charter a boat which can take you to the many golden beached inlets which are not accessible any other way.
Accommodation varies in and around the park. There is one great eco lodge located in the heart of the park and although a bit pricer it makes for a great escape, complete with a restaurant serving local produce and wines. Most people choose to stay in one of the parks surrounding towns which are only a few minute drive from the jumping off points of many of the various tours, dining and activity options. This is one of the more cost effective ways to explore the region if you're not going to be camping right in the thick of it.
While you're in the area, be sure to check out Kaiteriteri beach, the Golden Bay region with it's quaint towns, various short walks, great look out spots and popular farewell spit where you may be lucky enough to spot whales or dolphins frolicking in the ocean. Popular activities in the Golden Bay area are horse back riding, fishing tours, and hiking in it's two surrounding national parks Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National park.
This picturesque region of New Zealand is located on the North of the South Island and is only a short 1-3 hour drive depending on which area you are going to from the small coastal town of Nelson. Direct flights to Nelson operated by Air New Zealand fly regularly from most major cities across the country and is only a mere 35 minute flight from New Zealand's capital city of Wellington.