• Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Kayaking, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    23 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    328 Feet

Swimming Hole

With crystal clear waters, fur seals, and golden beaches, there's no better way to explore the Abel Tasman. Combine kayaking and hiking to explore this Great Walk coastal track.

This beautiful national park can be explored by boat and/or by foot, so we decided to incorporate both before catching a jet boat back to Marahau. The entire coastal track is almost 50 km one-way without side trips, and the coastline can also be done entirely by kayak. Before arriving in Marahau, we arranged kayak rentals and camping reservations at the visitor center in Motueka.

Day 1

We launched kayaks from Marahau in the morning, paddling north all day to explore the bays and islands along the way to Anchorage Bay. In the summer months (December-March), fur seals and their pups can be found around Adele Island. It was definitely a highlight of the trip to have seals playing and diving in the island's shallow waters. We dropped the kayaks off at Watering Cove, a breathtaking little beach with stunning rock formations and great swimming. The kayak company will pick the boats up at various bays along the track, so we could take the short walk to Anchorage Bay by foot. The Great Walks have well-equipped huts which are often booked months in advance, and some also have campsites with basic facilities. Our camping area at Anchorage Bay had running water, a shelter for cooking, and bathrooms with flush toilets. The bay itself is a north facing crescent with absolutely beautiful waters and a jungle atmosphere on the shore. Be mindful of leaving food or garbage in camp, the flightless weka bird likes to pilfer at night. The sand flies were bearable, but certainly present.

Day 2

The next morning we packed up in time to catch the low tide route towards Torrent Bay. The estuary can be crossed two hours on either side of low tide, or you can take the all-tide track around it. The track to Bark Bay is 11.5 km of sloping hills through the humid, lush forest before reaching the ocean again at idyllic beaches. Bark Bay camping is right on the beach and the swimming is worth the sand flies.

Day 3

Crossing the Bark Bay estuary is easiest at low tide, and from there it's a 13.5 km trek to Awaroa. The elevation rises and falls throughout this portion of the track and primarily stays in the forest. Return to the coast at Onetahuti Bay on a beautiful stretch of beach, then the track leads up the Tonga Saddle before descending to Awaroa Inlet. The hut and campground is accessible once the tide has receded and exposed the beach to walk on. We lost the sunshine on our last day and hustled through rain to the lodge at Awaroa where we caught our reserved jetboat down south.

Pack List

  • Reservation for camping or huts
  • Kayak, paddle, life jacket
  • Waterproof bags
  • 10 Essentials
  • Tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag
  • Stove, fuel, food supplies
  • Swimsuit, towel
  • Sun protection: sunscreen, sunglasses, hat
  • Camera
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Emily Noyd

Wilderness ranger in Yosemite National Park. Raised by Washington mountains and Puget Sound islands. I live for sunrise, backcountry cooking, climbing, roadtrips, and coffee.

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