The closest city to the Abel Tasman National Park is Nelson, which has good bus connections with the main towns and cities of the South Island, as well as a small airport.
It is 8 km south of downtown Nelson. This small airport only operates domestic flights. Its terminal has been recently renovated. The main company the New Zealand Air, and to a lesser extent Sound Air. Direct flights per day:
- Auckland, more than 10, 90 minutes.
- Wellington, more than 10, 40 minutes.
- Christchurch, 6-7 a day, 55 minutes.
- There are occasional flights to Paraparaumu, New Plymouth and North Palmerston.
How to get from the airport to downtown Nelson or to Abel Tasman National Park?
- Rental vehicle: Avis, Budget, Europcar, Thrifty, Hertz and Rent New Zealand are the companies present.
- Nelson City Taxis company has fixed fares from the city and from the airport to various points in the national park: Marahau 150 NZ $, Kaiteriteri 140 NZ $, Motueka 110 NZ $, Mapua 80 NZ $.
- Supershuttle is a multinational company that offers door-to-door transportation, although its website in the case of the New Zealand section has some errors.
- In case of hiring an excursion that includes transfers, operators should pick us up or drop us off at the airport.
HOW TO GO FROM NELSON TO ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK
Abel Tasman has the following entrances by road:
- Marahau to the south, is 67 km from Nelson on a normal paved road. There is parking at the beginning of the Coastal Track. Kaiteriteri is 6 km south of Marahau; There we can also park and walk to Marahau (not recommended) or go by kayak or water taxi.
- Wainui is the northern entrance. It is 128 km from Nelson and 21 km from Takaka. The last two km the road is unpaved.
- Totaranui, in the northeast area, is 160 km from Nelson and 32 km from Takaka. The last 12 km the road is unpaved but it is accessible for motor homes and campervans. From the road that goes to Totaranui, there is a branch to Awaroa estuary, but there are 12 km of dirt lane in a very bad condition.
To get to the park the options are:
- Own or rented vehicle, very popular, especially motorhomes.
- There is a daily InterCity bus from Nelson to Marahau at 7:30 am with stops in Motueka and Kaiteriteri, it takes 1h 45m and costs NZ $ 21 each way.
- Hire one of the multiple shuttles of agencies that transport hikers from Nelson to Marahau. All offer round trip, to decide how many days later we want to be picked up. Many include combinations with water taxis:
- One of the most popular services consists of shuttles shared by the companies Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi, Marahu Sea Kayaks and Marahau Water Taxis, that offer accommodation pick-up. Their schedules and prices in 2019 can be checked in these links:
- ScenicNZ Abel Tasman offers a bus a day, in addition to day packs.
- Hire a full one or several day excursion, since most tour operators include pickup from Nelson.
- A taxi from Nelson will cost just under NZ $ 200 according to the exact final destination: Marahau 160 NZ $, Kaiteriteri 150 NZ $, Motueka 120 NZ $.
TRANSPORT IN ABEL TASMAN COASTAL TRACK
Transportation on the Coastal Track can be an attraction itself. It offers beautiful views of the coast and the nearby islands, and there are many possibilities to see dolphins (I saw them) and seals.
- Water taxis are the best way to get around the park for those who do not intend to hike the entire Coastal Track. They offer transfers from Marahau or Kaiteriteri, both at the southern end of the park, to Anchorage / Torrent Bay (NZ $ 37, 45 minutes), Bark Bay (NZ $ 42, 1 hour), Awaroa (NZ $ 47, 90 minutes) and Totaranui (NZ $ 49, 2 hours), prices are one way, and are approximately equal in all companies. The last stop is always Totaranui, there is no connection from there to Wainui. I took one to Bark Bay and walked back to Marahau. There are many, many companies:
- Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi is perhaps the best considered, it has 4 services a day in high season and 3 in low season, the first at 9 am and the last at 1:30 pm. Stop at Onetahuti (NZ $ 44, 1 hour 15 minutes). It also offers recreational excursions around the area by boat.
- Wilsons, it is one of the best considered agencies, and besides water taxi it offers many types of excursions and has a lodge inside the park. Its prices are somewhat higher than the previous one, but it offers more stops and the last taxi in north direction is at 4:30 pm.
- Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles, 4 services, from 9 am to 2:30 pm. This company is somewhat cheaper than the previous ones and is one of those that offers round trip transportation from Nelson + water taxi.
- Marahau Water Taxis. 4 services per day, from 9 am to 1:30 pm.
- Another popular option is to rent a kayak, good for paddling wherever we want, well to get to one of the main points and from there hike back. All offer guided tours or free rental of the kayak, which for 24 hours is usually around 85-100 NZ $, but there are rentals of up to 5 days that are cheaper. Some of the top rated companies are Wilsons, Kahu Kayaks, Marahau Sea Kayaks, Abel Tasman Kayaks o Kaiteriteri Kayaks.
CLIMATE AND WHEN TO GO