The walk we did was one way, we arrived by water taxi at Awaroa Bay and walked to Torrent Bay which was 15.7k taking 5 hours 30mins then left by water taxi. This is a very detailed account of our day hike in Abel Tasman. This is New Zealand’s top National Park in the South Island. The one stop destination for beaches, bush and rivers. Grab a back pack and walk the park.
In the map above, if you zoom in on the walk, you’ll see all the following track points and their location. Each point has photos along with a description about each one.
You need to take the water taxi to the start of the track, it leaves from the waters edge at Kaiteriteri Beach and arrives 1¼ hours later at Awaroa Bay. Can depend on how long you spend at the seal colony. We were a little late because a small pod of dolphins were crushing by Tonga Island. Once we got off the boat, it was a 5min walk to the Awaroa lodge, we spoiled ourselves with a flat white coffee and a slice of cake at the cafe at Lodge. We left the lodge at 11.15am and followed a small sign pointing left to the coastal walk. Keep looking for the signs; it is a zig zag walk. Head for the organic vege garden, then turn to the left and you are on your way. For up to date prices on the water taxi, just do a Google search.
It’s only a 30 Min walk to the top of the saddle. Don’t take the track off to your right this will take you down to the Awaroa Hut
At the top of the saddle it is down hill all the way to the beach. As you walk downhill keep an eye out to the right, you can see over to Onetahuti beach. The camp site is at the southern end of the beach.
At the bottom of the track, is the tricky part. If you have not timed the tides right you could be sitting there for hours waiting for the tide to go out far enough for you to cross safely. We were lucky, we didn’t realise we had to be so careful with the tides so we only got wet up to our knees.
After crossing over the estuary onto the beach, we took off our sandals and walked bare foot along the beach to Onetahuti Camp. We were amazed at how many people were walking the track, but I guess it will be at this time of the year. We were fascinated by the 100’s of fish swimming up and down right on the waters edge. What we thought was a big patch of seaweed seemed to be drifting 2 to 3 metres out from the waters edge in the same direction as we were travelling, but hang on there was no current. After wading out into water we were excited to see we were being followed by a stingray!
We arrived at Onetahuti Camp at 12.30 and spent 15 minutes walking around admiring the camp facilities. With your back to the beach looking at the cooking shelter there is a track running off to a beautiful little fresh water waterfall. At the bottom of the fall is a sparkling pool just deep enough to wash off the salt and sand from your dip in the ocean. This is a very beautiful camp site. You have trees for shelter from the sun, some grass to pitch the tent and a kitchen shelter to cook under. Yes and even a flushing toilet! The tap water there has to be boiled or filtered.
Onetahuti Camp to Bark Bay 1H 40Min = 4.3K The track starts from the southern end of the beach. After 3 minutes of walking you can look back and get a fantastic view of the Onetahuti Camp and beach. From here it is a very easy 15 minute walk to Tonga quarry with fantastic costal views. A couple minutes short of Tonga Quarry you can look down onto the beach.
We arrived at Tonga Quarry at 1.04 and stopped for lunch and admired the million dollar views. Started walking again at 1.26. Tonga Quarry is not my choice of campsites. It’s very sandy and not very flat, but interesting in history. In the early days the granite rock was mined in this bay because it had a tendency to split evenly when steel wedges were driven into the cracks between the rock. The big square slabs of granite was then winched down to the beach and shipped off to Nelson and Wellington. Today squares of granite can still be seen sitting on the beach waiting to be shipped out.
From Tonga Quarry it is a 60 metre climb up into Long Valley Creek. This is a very interesting walk you will see large outcrops of granite and a good variety of New Zealand ferns and trees. The day we were there, a mob of wild pigs had just been through the valley routing up the ground looking for fern roots and bulbs leaving their tell tale signs (as if someone has had been through with a spade digging up the ground ready for a garden) Once you pass over the ridge and start heading down to Bark Bay you’ll see a track running off to your left. We took the chance and headed off down the track hoping that we could cross Bark Bay Inlet to save ourselves half an hours walk to Bark Bay camp site.
Confucius say “better spend 1 minute reading tide chart then ½ hour walking up big hill” The channel was far too deep to cross so back up the hill we walked and back on to the high tide track.
Once we got to the bottom of the ridge and crossed over a small bridge it was a 15 minute to Barks Bay Hut. There were fantastic views of the various small inlets and swimming holes along the way.
Once you cross the Huffam Stream you’re only a few minutes away from the bay. You would have seen a lot of photos of this creek in tourist brochures.
Top up here with fresh filtered drinking water from the tap provided by DOC. Be careful, make sure you get the right tap, there is a sign next to the tap. Make use of the flushing toilets while you’re here. If the tide is out you can take the short cut to the camp site. Walk out to the beach in front of the hut and straight across the inlet to the camp site. This’ll save you about 4 minutes walking time.
We arrived at Bark Bay Camp site at 2.50 to find a steady stream of campers arriving to pitch tents, it looked like Queen St on a Friday night. Tap water here has to be boiled. The ground at the camp site is make up of dirt and sand and could be very sticky if it’s been raining, you could end up with a lot of dirty gear. This camp site has a flushing toilet and a fireplace. It’s only 30 seconds to walk to Abel Tasmans most popular beach.
Medlands Bay is only 8 minutes walk from Bark Bay. From here it’s a steady climb up to Southern Heads ridge which overlooks Sandfly Bay.
From Southern Heads ridge it’s a down hill walk to Water Falls River swing bridge. It’s a 47 metre long suspension bridge. From the swing bridge it’s an 80 metre climb up to the next ridge, the hardest climb of the day, just enough to get a sweat up and work off the flat white and rather large slice of carrot cake with yogurt icing, I knew I should’ve bought two pieces.
Isn’t this, the bay of your dreams! Its call Frenchman’s Bay and it’s stunning. If we had more time we would have liked to walk down to the bay. The track to the bay is at the top of the ridge after you’ve climbed up from the swing bridge. Be careful one track runs out to a lookout only.
From here on it’s an enjoyable walk around two small valleys, we were amazed to see on this section of track so many young Rimu trees. We wondered if DOC has been planting native trees to try and rejuvenate the coast bush.
Dropping down the last ridge there is this fantastic view of Torrent Bay and to top it off they even built us a seat to take the weight off our weary feet.
At 4.20pm we arrived at Torrent Bay, we were pleased that we had time up our sleeve to site down and rest up a bit before the water taxi arrived to take us back. Even though our legs were a bit tired the other side of the inlet got the better of us so we went to investigate.
There were more people on this side of the inlet than the ocean probably because the tide was out making it hard for the boaties to get in and out. If you were travelling further south down the track you can save a lot of time by crossing this inlet at low tide. You can’t quite see it from this photo but there are 3 meters posts stuck in the sand marking the way across.
Beautiful golden sandy beaches are guaranteed, if you can spend more time in the Abel Tasman National Park, try not to rush. Appreciate the full beauty of the park, before the park turns in to a tourist mecca.
Want to share your walking and hiking tips and advice? Got questions? Visit the our Facebook Group, ask questions, get answers, meet people, post photos and share your walking experiences! We’d love to hear from you.