Abel Tasman NZ – 60 km – 2 days kayaking and 3 days hiking

Kayaking, Able Tasman, hiking, New Zealand, Great walk, South Island
Great time in Abel tasman

Day 1 kayak- Marahau to Observation Beach 7km. We stopped at Fisherman’s Island on the way to explore a little and have a picnic lunch. Then we headed to the bigger island and saw a few seals (we had to stay 20m away from them) then headed for Observation Beach, which is a campsite with 5 tent sites on it. We only had 3 couples including us staying there. It was epic, felt like our own paradise. We used maps from topo maps to navigate our way, I had laminated them earlier in the week and they proved very helpful.

Chilling at Observation beach in the evening loving the peacefulness and views

We hired the kayaks off Abel Tasman Kayaks which we found to be a very well run and great company to use, see the link here: https://www.abeltasmankayaks.co.nz/. We had a full safety briefing before we were allowed to use the kayaks, they covered paddling techniques, what to do if we capsize, how to set off a flare, how to use the rudder, how to turn around, how to fit the life jacket and spray skirt, ski lanes, how to kayak in waves, and how to have more stability (be low put you paddle into the water).

Enjoying the evening views at Observation beach

Abel Tasman Kayaks wrote down our plan of action over the next 5 days for safety reasons. Also they got our emergency phone number off us. We felt pretty safe and in good hands as we were just renting the kayaks not even doing a guided tour.

Setting up our tent at Observation beach

One problem we found was the Wekas. They are birds that can’t fly, and they look a bit like a kiwi. They were all over the Abel Tasman, and they tried many times to steal a lot of our stuff. So be very wary of these birds, as they have been know to steal passports, food etc.

Food wise we brought plenty of freeze dry food, red wine, seaweed, nuts, protein bars, rehydration tabs, dried fruit and a few more things.

Weather wise we were lucky we had light winds, slightly overcast some sunny patches 5-10 knots

Kayaking, Able Tasman, hiking, New Zealand, Great walk, South Island

Day 2 -Was 7km of paddeling in our kayaks with all of our gear from Obesevation Beach to Bark bay. Weather was overcast/ sunny, light winds 5-10 knots. Once we arrived we went for a walk and saw many Kaka ( a native NZ bird, they had just released 40 at Bark Bay). The kaka are cheeky and intelligent birds, we actually watched one kaka unbolt a picnic table. The kaka tried to peck at my knee and landed on Kirsten’s head for a split second. The DOC sign at the campsite said the kaka had been hand raised (hence why so friendly) and we need to shoo them away and not encourage them to be friendly to humans. Later on that day we went for a swim and sunbathed. We also explored the lagoon and found the low tide crossing point for the next day. We watched our kayaks get picked up and 3pm by boat and knew we were about to head into the hiking stage of our adventure.

Day 3 hike Bark bay – Awaroa 13 km on foot. From Awaroa, we caught a water taxi to Totoranui. This was due to all camp sites and huts being booked out on this night Out of interest our packs weighted 15kg – 17kg not too bad. One of our highlights was on this day because in the bush track on the way to the water taxi, we stumbled upon a random barn cafe which served gourmet pizza and had cider on tap. We were in heaven and couldn’t believe our luck. After our feed, we went for a swim at the beach while we waited for the water taxi to arrive. We used Aqua Taxi which was a great company to use https://aquataxi.co.nz/, but later we found out we could have just used Able Tasman Kayaks since they do a taxi service as well. So eventually the water taxi took us to Totoranui.

Loving the camping life

We finally arrived at Totorunui. It was a very very hot day and I am pretty sure I suffered from a bit of heat stroke on this day. We went for several swims at the beach throughout the afternoon in an attempt to beat the heat. Here the camp site also has road access so there were 916 camp sites and it was at full capacity apparently. We had a good place to stay in the coastal walkers area which wasn’t too packed. It was essentially a huge area of grass by the water to camp on.

Day four hike Totoranui to Whariwharangi Bay 3 hours 15 min of hiking time, but including breaks it took us 4 hours. We took the low tide track. which shaved some time off as well. We swam at Anapai bay did some snorkelling and saw some tiny fish. We found this day the hardest, as our bodies were sore from yesterday. We were happy when we made it to Whariwharangi camping ground which was a beautiful shady camping spot in the beautiful forest about 5 min walk away from the beach. The stop was an interesting one, mainly due to our coffee getting stolen by the wekas (it took us 10-15 min to find it 20 meter hidden in the forest cheeky things).

Kayaking, Able Tasman, hiking, New Zealand, Great walk, South Island
The end of the hike had some good views

Day five Whariwharangi to Wainui beach 1 hour 30 min. From Wainui we caught the bus back to the start of our journey in Marahau. Weather was very windy when we made it to the end of the track.

We were stoked with our 5 days Marahau to Wainui bay Abel Tasman adventure, and I can now tick this experience off my bucket list.


  • You can’t kayak between Totoranui – Wainui bay through a commercial company as doc want to keep this part chilled with no water taxi commercial business.
  • Kayak the first two days but it is way better on high tide so you can explore the lagoons –
  • Kayak first and hike second because the kayak company does a safety briefing that takes one and a half hours and they need to see you kayak on the water so once you are in the kayaks you just want to paddle not get out get back into your hiking gear etc.
  • Try to spot the kaka in bark bay they released a whole lot end of 2019, amazing NZ bird
  • Bring water treatment tabs as not all water is treated.
  • Bring bug spray as a few sand flies are around
  • Defo do the whole walk Marahau to Wainui bay, it’s worth doing the whole thing
  • Book 3 – 6 months in advance as spots get taken fast
  • Use the low tide crossing and cut off 10 min -1 hour of your hikes
  • Awaroa has a low tide crossing with no other alternative so this is good to be aware of – it can be crossed two hours either side of low tide.
  • Wekas steal everything, including passports and personal belongings. They will rip through plastic bags to steal their contents as well. They steal things and investigate if they are food later in the bush
  • Bring some big Plastic bags if kayaking as kayak companies don’t always provide them. Some hatches are not totally waterproof.
  • Defo do it its a great hike and not to many steep part so good for people who don’t like hiking up steep hills.