Weather & Tides

As two long, skinny islands in the middle of the South Pacific, New Zealand’s weather is notoriously fickle.

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 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 tides if you are planning to cross between these two points.  Again, the NZ Met Service website has tide charts.

What to take

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 Coastal 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:

  • Shoes or open-toed shoes (we call ‘em jandals)
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Water bottle
  • A warmer outer layer and/or a raincoat
  • Any personal medication.
  • Towel and swimwear if you fancy a swim

If you’re on a multi-day trip that includes overnight stays at camp sites, your gear should include:

  • The stuff you’ll be wearing: Sturdy shoes or tramping boots; shorts and a t’ shirt.
  • Long pants (Kiwi trampers use Longjohns and we don’t even know this is considered strange in the rest of the world until people from overseas laugh at us!)
  • Tramping pack (50-70lt)
  • Pack liner (to stop your gear from getting wet if it rains)
  • Medium size dry bag for sleeping stuff (nobody likes sleeping in a wet sleeping bag)
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Cup
  • Camp shoes – jandals – optional
  • Spare pair of socks – optional, but it’s so good to pull on a fresh pair of socks at the end of the day!
  • Polypropylene or wool base layer, short or long sleeved
  • Fleece or woollen pullover
  • Bullet-proof rain Jacket
  • Wooly hat
  • Sun hat/cap
  • Gloves/mittens – woollen or fleece
  • Sunglasses – optional
  • Torch or headlamp
  • Toiletries
  • Water bottle – at least 1lt
  • Cooker, fuel and something to light it with
  • Food
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • If you’re not staying in a hut you’ll also need:
    • A sleeping mat (huts have mattresses)
    • A tent

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:

  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping mats
  • Tents
  • Gas cookers

Overnight accommodation

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.