Plan & Prepare
Although not a lot of planning and preparation is required to enjoy the Abel Tasman, some really basic prep can greatly enhance your experience.
Weather & Tides
As two long, skinny islands in the middle of the South Pacific, New Zealand’s weather is notoriously fickle. It’s a good idea to plan & prepare.
Correctly forecasting our weather is enough to send even your hardiest meteorologist into a dark corner where they will rock backwards and forwards muttering curses to nobody in particular. The unpredictability of our weather should be considered when viewing weather forecasts, and when packing appropriate clothing. Having said this, the Abel Tasman enjoys the most stable weather in the country and can be experienced in most conditions, aside the from the extremely nasty stuff. The old salty-dogs who run operations for the water taxi and kayaking companies really do know their stuff and will cancel services if things are going to cut up rough. If a commercial operator does cancel a service, you’ll get a full refund, but this hardly ever happens.
The New Zealand Met Service is a good place to check the Abel Tasman weather forecast, and also the marine conditions if you’re planning a kayaking mission. In the north of the Park, a tidal estuary stands between Awaroa and Totaranui. This estuary can only be crossed 1.5 to 2 hours either side of low tide. There is no way to cross or walk around the estuary during higher tide conditions so you will need to check the Abel Tasman tides if you are planning to cross between these two points.
What to Bring
You don’t need a lot of gear to enjoy the Park, and what you don’t have can be rented from the Abel Tasman Centre in Marahau.
If you’re going anywhere at all in the great New Zealand outdoors, take a warm outer layer. Our weather gods just love messing with people.
There are no pharmacies in the park so you need to take your own personal medication if required. There is only one café in the Park, at Awaroa, and that is only open during the summer, so you need to take your own food. There is fresh water available at various spots along the Abel Tasman Coast Track but you shouldn’t count on this being available. Much of the water available needs to be boiled before it is safe to drink so you should take your own water for the day.
If you’re on a day trip, your gear check list is as follows:
If you’re on a multi-day trip that includes overnight stays at camp sites, your gear should include:
Carrying a 20kg pack is quite tolerable for most people, although it will tire you out eventually. But if your pack weighs more than that, start taking stuff out!
If you haven’t got your own outdoor gear then you can rent gear from the Abel Tasman Centre which is located at the start of the Park, on the Marahau waterfront. They have:
All accommodation in the Abel Tasman must be booked in advance. This includes the Department of Conservation huts and campsites, and the other overnight options.
The huts in the Abel Tasman do not have gas cooking facilities so you need to take your own portable cooking equipment. The huts don’t have lighting either, so unless you can see in the dark, you’ll need your own torch (flashlight) or candles.