The Abel Tasman Walk, or Abel Tasman Coast Track as it’s officially named, is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks – a collection of trails that showcase the best of our country’s natural beauty.
It’s certainly a popular path, but if you’ve never done it, you’re probably wondering… how difficult is the Abel Tasman walk?
The Abel Tasman Walk is one of the easier Great Walks. Covering a distance of 54 kilometres, the Abel Tasman Coast Track is a journey that unfurls over 3 to 5 days and involves relatively flat terrain, limited climbs, and short distances. This makes it an excellent choice for families with children or less experienced hikers.
Despite that, there are still a few challenges to overcome when completing the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Stick with us as we give you the lowdown on just how difficult the Abel Tasman walk is and some tips to help you complete the walk.
The Difficulties of the Abel Tasman Walk
Many who take on the Abel Tasman Coast Track may find themselves unprepared for the difficulties that lie in wait.
One of the primary challenges of this walk is the heat. The track is exposed to the sun, and many parts offer little shade. This can lead to dehydration if you do not carry sufficient water supplies.
Another factor to consider is the notorious pesky sandflies along this track. These tiny insects have a bite that can cause intense itching!
Bring a good insect repellent and consider wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, especially in the early morning and late afternoon when sandflies are most active.
The tides in Abel Tasman National Park are highly variable, which can pose a challenge to walkers.
Several sections of the Abel Tasman Coast Track are affected by tides, particularly the crossings at Torrent Bay and Awaroa. Check the tide tables before you set off and plan your walk accordingly. If you get the timing wrong, you could be waiting for hours for the tide to recede.
Some Uphill Segments
Do note that there are a couple of uphill segments, particularly at the start of the day and just after lunch. And even though the ascents aren’t as steep as some of the other Great Walks, they can still take a toll on unprepared hikers.
The total ascent of the track is around 4,652 feet (1,418m), with a similar descent. This might not sound daunting on paper, but when you’re out there on the trail, it can be quite a workout—especially if you’re carrying a heavy backpack.
Tips for Completing the Abel Tasman National Walk
Here are some tips to help you complete the Abel Tasman National Walk sucessfully!
1. Choose your season
While the track is open all year round, the best time to walk the track is during the summer months (December to February). This is because the weather is warm and the days are long. However, this is also the busiest time of year. Consider visiting in spring (September to November) or autumn (March to May) for fewer crowds.
2. Plan your route
While the Abel Tasman Coast Track can be walked in either direction, most people start from Marahau and end at Wainui. Before embarking on your journey, plan your route according to your fitness level and the time you have available.
If you’re short on time or prefer a less strenuous walk, consider doing just a section of the track. The stretch between Marahau and Anchorage makes for a fantastic day walk.
3. Book your accommodation in advance
During the peak season (October to April), huts and campsites along the track must be booked in advance. The Department of Conservation manages these facilities, and bookings can be made online. If you plan to stay at private accommodations or lodges, book well in advance, as they can fill up quickly.
4. Pack light but wisely
Carrying a heavy pack can turn an enjoyable trek into a gruelling ordeal. Pack light, but don’t skimp on essentials.
These include a good quality rain jacket, warm clothing (even in summer, temperatures can drop), sturdy walking shoes, sun protection, first aid supplies, and sufficient food and water.
5. Respect the environment
Abel Tasman National Park is home to diverse flora and fauna. It’s crucial to respect this environment. So stick to the marked trails, take all rubbish with you, and don’t feed or disturb wildlife.
6. Take your time
Finally, remember that the Abel Tasman Coast Track isn’t a race. The beauty of this track lies not only in its end but also in the journey itself. So, take your time, soak in the scenery, and immerse yourself in the natural splendour of Abel Tasman National Park.