Kayaking in The Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman Park Kayking
The Abel Tasman National Park coastline

The Abel Tasman National Park, in Tasman, New Zealand, is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and beaustiful places to canoe or kayak in the whole of the country.

The place is famous for its golden sandy beaches and coastal rock formations that are bordered by native bush. The coves, streams and inlets provide a host of places to paddle around and with the sun shining on the shallow waters of the bays the sea takes on beautiful light emerald and turquoise hues.


A great place to start your kayaking adventure in Abel Tasman is the coastal town of Marahau, which is the main gateway to the whole of the Abel Tasman Park. Situated right next to the vast shallow expanse of Sandy Bay it is the perfect place to put your boat into the water to explore the surrounding coastline.

There are many things to see, some of the most exciting are the many sting rays that swim around the bay and under your kayak as you paddle across the bay.

Abel Tasman Track

Marahau is also the start of the great Abel Tasman Track. This is the entrance to many of the coves and beaches all the way along to Wainui Bay at the end of the track. Taking in such places as Anchorage inlet and its DOC campsite and Awaroa inlet, known as “the people beach” with its lovely clear waters – a kayakers paradise.

Awaroa is very remote and the best way to experience it is by boat, canoe or kayak.

With the right inflatable kayak it is possible to carry it in and explore much of the coastline whilst walking the track and camping at the various camp grounds and private accomodation along the route.

We have dropped our inflatable kayak in the water at Marahua before and paddled across Sandy Bay to Apple Tree Bay, stopping at Coquille Bay on the way.

Tides at Sandy Bay

Some advice about the tides at Sandy Bay, because it is a shallow bay the sea does recede some way, so if you are paddling back to Marahau at or near low tide just be aware that the sea may not be in far enough for you to paddle back to the shore.

Further information.

For more information about visiting the Abel Tasman National Park and kayaking there please visit the DOC website.

If you are planning a trip to Awaroa Beach then this page on the Nelson Tasman Regional development Agency website is a good place to start.

There are many kayak rental providers is you don’t have one, just Google them and you will find them. If you are interested in an inflatable kayak or canoe follow this link.

Approximate kayaking times

Paddling times for experienced kayakers in calm conditions without stopping at the Abel Tasman:

  • Marahau to Anchorage¬†4 hr
  • Anchorage to Bark Bay 2 hr
  • Bark Bay to Onetahuti 1 hr 30 min

Kayaking advice

The DOC say that kayaking is not recommended around the coastline North of Onetahuti Bay due to the remote and exposed coastline.

Image by Ricardo Helass from Pixabay

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