*This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Over the course of its 60 glorious kilometers, the Abel Tasman Coast Track passes through verdant hillsides, pristine beaches, coastal bush, and rich forest. It’s easy to see why this is one of New Zealand’s most beloved Great Walks. While the diversity of sights and landscapes certainly adds to the richness of the experience, it can make packing pretty challenging!

You’ll need to be prepared for all sorts of weather, and well as some challenging hills and muddy conditions on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. At the same time, carrying too big a rucksack will undoubtedly take away from the enjoyment of your trek.

So how does one strike that elusive balance between having all of the necessities without feeling like they have a baby elephant on their back? Read on for our best advice and detailed kit lists to learn everything you need (and what you don’t need) to have your best possible Abel Tasman walking adventure!

In this post:

View of cliffs and shoreline on the Abel Tasman Coast Track
The Abel Tasman Coast Track crosses a variety of rugged and beautiful coastal landscapes.

Packing Basics for the Abel Tasman Track

There are so many variables when it comes to packing for the Abel Tasman Coast Track, such as your accommodation type, hiking style, trip length, baggage transfers, time of year, and many more. Every hiker will have a unique kit to best serve their individual needs. Despite all of those factors, there are some universal rules that all hikers should follow when putting together their kit for the Abel Tasman Coast Track.

How Much Should My Pack Weigh?

This isn’t easy to answer, since there are a ton of factors that influence how much is too much for any individual hiker. Some things to think about…

  • How fast are you hoping to hike? Generally speaking, lighter=faster
  • Have you completed a multi-day through hike with this specific backpack and this amount of weight before? 
  • Are you injury-prone or do you have any chronic knee, hip, or back issues? 

As a very general rule, campers should keep their pack weight below 13kg, including food and water. Those staying indoors should carry no more than 9kg. If having your luggage transferred along the trail, most transfer services will limit you to 20kg, and your daypack shouldn’t exceed 4kg. If you are backpacking for the first time or have a chronic injury, the weight of your pack should be significantly less than these guidelines.

Generally speaking, less is more. Here’s a few tips for lightening your load:

  1. You only need a couple of shirts. Same goes for underwear and socks. Bring quick-dry items that you can rinse out in the sink or shower.
  2. Plan out when/where you’ll restock food provisions and don’t carry more food than you need.
  3. Consider leaving your bulky camera equipment at home. Unless photography is your passion, most smartphones take great photos and save a ton of space and weight.
Backpacking backpack
The type of pack you’ll need for the Abel Tasman Coast Track will depend on your individual itinerary.

Choosing a backpack for the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Just like with footwear, a properly fitting backpack is crucial on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Also similar to your boots, your pack needs to be broken in for optimal comfort. We recommend carrying a weighted pack on your training walks to get used to the extra weight and ensure it fits well.

If you plan on staying in the Department of Conservation (DoC) huts along the route, you’ll to carry a sleeping bag and cooking gear. A 30-50L pack will be more than enough space for everything you need.

If you plan on camping, you’ll need a larger pack to fit your tent and sleeping pad in addition to your basic supplies. A 45-60L pack will be suitable for most campers.

Last but not least, don’t forget to bring a pack cover to protect against rain! Many newer packs come with one built-in.

Read More: The Complete Guide to the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Coast to Coast Walk hiking boots
Footwear on the Abel Tasman Coast Track comes down to personal preference and fit, but always break in new boots ahead of time!

Footwear on the Abel Tasman Coast Track

The Abel Coast Track covers a variety of terrain, but it’s not too technical or rugged. Hiking boots, hiking shoes, and trail running shoes will all work for the Abel Coast Track, provided that they will work for your unique needs. The most important thing is that they’re adequately broken in and that you’ve tested them on multiple walks to ensure they are comfortable. You’ll likely need to go up half a size to account for thicker socks and/or swollen feet. Some people may prefer the ankle support of traditional hiking boots, while others may seek out the cushion and breathability of trail shoes. Again, it’s all about trying a variety of options and finding the best one for you.

Waterproof boots or shoes can be a good idea, considering you’ll likely face rainy, wet, and muddy conditions at some point on the trail.

Good socks are also a game-changer on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. We love merino wool socks like these for their comfort, breathability, and anti-stink qualities.

If you’re blister-prone, consider trying toe sockssock liners, and/or body glide.

If you need more underfoot padding, try using socks with extra cushioning or even some custom insoles.

Finally, make sure you also bring sandals or water shoes for beach walks and tidal crossings.

Boat on the Awaroa Inlet
You’ll have to wait until low-tide to cross the Awaroa Inlet.

Good Waterproofs

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad rain gear! Even if you’re hiking in the drier summer months, it is likely that you’ll experience wet weather at some point along your journey. Having the appropriate gear will make all the difference when it comes to enjoying your trip to the fullest. Bonus: waterproof outer layers will also serve as great protection against the infamous westerly winds that can blow along the Kiwi coast.

At the very minimum, make sure you have a lightweight rain jacket and a pack cover. Some hikers pack their clothing and other items inside trash bags or waterproof packing cubes as an extra precaution. A hat can be nice to keep the rain (or sun) out of your face. And a waterproof carrying case for your map and/or phone isn’t a bad idea either.

Cloudy day in Abel Tasman National Park
With the right waterproofs, you don’t need to worry about wet weather on the horizon!

Read More: Abel Tasman Coast Track | Maps & Routes

Personal Gear

Whether you’re camping or staying indoors, these items are must-haves for your Abel Tasman Coast Track packing list. While we’ve included some toiletries that are absolutely essential for this trek, we’ve left it up to you to determine your own list of additional self-care items (comb, toothbrush, prescription medication, etc). 

Most Valuable Personal Item: Platypus Big Zip Hydration Bladder

With its variable temperatures and high humidity, it is imperative to stay well-hydrated while trekking the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Traditional water bottles can be bulky and inconvenient, which is why we love hydration bladders like this one! Fill it up once in the morning and you won’t have to worry about finding water for the remainder of the day. The bladder distributes weight evenly against your back and the design is leak-proof and easy to clean.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Multi-ToolGerber Dime Multi-ToolPerfect for cutting cheese or opening cans when you need some trail-side snacks!
First Aid KitAdventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight KitA good backpacking first aid kit is essential. You hope to never have to use it, but will be glad you have it when you need it. We like the labeled compartments and waterproof case on this one.
Hydration BladderPlatypus Big ZipWay easier than a water bottle! We suggest carrying a 3-liter version.
Pack CoverSea to Summit Ultra-Sil Rain CoverThis is a truly essential piece of gear given how hard it can rain on the Abel Tasman Coast Track! This one has an extra strap that keeps it in place on windy days.
Men’s BackpackOsprey Atmos AG 65While backpacks are a very personal item, we think Osprey makes the most comfortable packs on the market. This 65L model will work for both campers or those staying indoors.
Women’s BackpackOsprey Aura AG 65One of our favorite features of Osprey packs is the ‘anti-gravity’ mesh. So comfortable!
Trekking PolesBlack Diamond Alpine FlzThese can help take the load off your knees and they’re great on steep sections.
Travel TowelSea to Summit Airlite Travel TowelGreat to have for the beach or washing up.
Headlamp/ Head torchBlack Diamond SpotGreat headtorch with long battery life and adjustable brightness.
Dry BagsOsprey UL Packing Cube SetKeeps your clothes and other items dry in a downpour! These are also great for keeping your kit organized and packed efficiently.
Hiking GaitersOutdoor Research Ankle GaitersOptional. These will help keep your boots dry when walking on muddy or boggy trails and they’ll keep out stones, dirt, and gravel.
SunscreenWe recommend a waterproof sport version with SPF 30 or higher.
Bug SprayBen’s Insect RepellentYou’ll be glad you brought this when the mozzies or midges come out.
Toilet Paper and TrowelThe TentLab Ultralight TrowelAs any hiker will tell you, it’s always better to be prepared and Leave No Trace!
Booking ConfirmationsIt’s a good idea to have printed copies of all of your reservations.
A section of trail on the Coast Track.
You can expect well maintained trails and easy walking on the Abel Tasman Coast Track.

Miscellaneous Gear

These odds and ends are the unsung heroes of any Abel Tasman Coast Track packing list. From getting your stinky shirt clean to keeping your phone charged, these items help your trek run smoothly. Make sure to use this list in addition to the other categories to complete your Abel Tasman kit. 

Most valuable miscellaneous gear: Anker Powercore 10000.

Chances are, you’re getting out on the trail to get a break from the constant demands of screens and that’s wonderful. However, don’t underestimate the importance of having a charged cell phone on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Your phone can be your navigational device, your camera, your guidebook, and your notepad all in one. The route can be a bit unclear at times, and charging opportunities are virtually nonexistent so a battery backup can be an absolute lifesaver. This one is dependable, relatively small, and can fully charge your phone 1.5-2 times between charges. Check it out here:

ItemOur ReccommendationWhy We Love It
Ear PlugsMack’s Ear PlugsEssential for a good night’s sleep! We find the silicone ones to stay in place and block out noise best.
Sleeping MaskAlaska BearPerfect to block out light while sleeping in huts or campgrounds on the Abel Tasman Coast Track.
Travel AdapterMintong All in One USB Travel AdapterIf you’re coming from abroad, this is going to be necessary. This one is super compact and the two USB ports are very handy!
Digital WatchCasio Classic Sport WatchWe recommend a simple digital watch to keep track of hiking times. This one is a great value and nearly indestructible.
CameraSony Alpha a6000Optional, but this compact camera takes beautiful photos and is easy to use.
Battery BackupAnker Powercore 10,000Great for charging electronics when you don’t have access to an outlet.
Biodegradable SoapCampsuds Biodegradable SoapPerfect for doing the dishes or washing a few clothing items.
Plastic Bags- quart, gallon, and garbage bags.We used these constantly for everything from storing trail mix to keeping our sleeping bags dry. A must-have for backpacking. They can be repurposed many times to minimize plastic waste.
FoodYou won’t be able to purchase any food along the trail, so it is essential that you pack everything you’ll need (plus a little extra).
A woman walks along the beach on the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Women’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for several days straight in various weather conditions and while doing some serious walking, it is imperative that those clothes are comfortable and high quality.  Although your individual preferences may look a little different, this list is an excellent starting point to ensure you’ve got all the essentials for your Abel Tasman Coast Track Walk.

Emily’s most valuable clothing item: Icebreaker Tech Lite Merino Wool T-Shirt

It’s easy to pack light when you have anti-stink, quick-drying, and endlessly comfortable gear like this merino wool tee. In the humid conditions on the Abel Tasman, you’ll appreciate how this shirt wicks moisture and stays comfy all day long. Check it out here:

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Give-N-Go SportThese are worth every penny when it comes to staying comfortable on the trail. They are quick-drying and antimicrobial meaning you can just bring a few pairs and wash them in the sink as you go.
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Micro Crew SocksIn our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Sports Bra (1)Under Armour Mid Crossback This is a good example of something breathable and comfortable that you can wear all day.
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)Smartwool 150 Base LayerA great merino wool base layer for chilly mornings or whenever the sand flies come out.

Short Sleeve Hiking Shirts (1-2)Icebreaker Tech Lite T-ShirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick-drying, and odor resistant.
Leggings or hiking pants (1)PrAna Halle PantStylish, lightweight, and great to hike in.
Shorts (1)The North Face Paramount ShortThese shorts are super versatile and durable! The fabric has just the right amount of stretch and the pockets are really handy.
Rain JacketMarmot PreCip Eco JacketA high-quality all-weather jacket that packs up small.
Hiking BootsKeen Targhee Mid Height Hiking BootEmily has had these boots for five years and hundreds of muddy, snowy hikes, and they are still going strong!
SunglassesSuncloud Polarised SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you’re outside all day. And these are stylish too!
Underwire/Standard BraAfter a long day of hiking in a sweaty sports bra this can be a welcome relief to change into.
HatColumbia Bora Bora Booney HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.

Sandals/Camp Shoes Crocs Classic ClogGreat to change into after a long day of walking!
BandanaLevi BandanaI used this for everything from a towel to extra sun protection.
Kayakers in Abel Tasman National Park

Men’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for several days in various weather conditions and while doing some serious trekking, it is imperative that those clothes are comfortable and high quality.  Although your individual preferences may look a little different, this list is an excellent starting point to ensure you’ve got all the essentials for your Abel Tasman adventure.

Ian’s most valuable clothing item: Darn Tough Merino Wool Socks

The conditions on the Abel Tasman Coast Track are such that hikers are at a particularly high risk of getting blisters at some point on their walk. The wet environments and stony paths conspire to create the perfect environment for blisters to sabotage your walk. Fortunately, a good pair of socks can greatly reduce your chance of foot issues. This is one of those times where you really do get what you pay for. We love Darn Tough socks because they keep our feet dry and comfortable in a variety of conditions. They have just the right amount of cushion without being too bulky in boots. Plus, the Merino wool keeps them smelling fresh for days. Check them out here:

ItemOur ReccommendationWhy We Love It
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Boxer BriefHighly recommended! You can bring just 2-3 pairs and wash them easily in sinks or showers. A must!
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Hiking Socks In our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)Columbia Thistletown Park Long SleeveThis is a very versatile baselayer that works great under an outer layer or on its own.

Short Sleeve Hiking Shirts (1-2)Icebreaker Tech Lite T-ShirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick-drying, and odor resistant.
Hiking Pants (1 pair)The North Face Paramount Convertible TrousersThese are great for hiking and also look great walking around town!
Hiking Shorts (1 pair)Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo ShortsYou can skip these if you’re using our recommended convertible trousers, but it can be nice to have an extra set of bottoms. These are so packable that you really can’t go wrong!
Rain Jacket Marmot Precip JacketUnlike many lightweight rain jackets. this one will actually keep you dry during long days on the trail.
HatColumbia Bora Bora Booney HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.
Sandals/Camp ShoesCrocs Classic ClogSuper nice to change into after walking in boots all day! These are also good for sand and water crossings.
Hiking BootsSalomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTXVery comfortable and super waterproof!
SunglassesSuncloud Polarized SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you’re in outdoors all day. And these are stylish too!
BandanaLevi’s BandanaThis can be used for everything from a towel to extra sun protection.
Abel Tasman Coast Track packing list
Campers will need to bring a bit more on the Coast Track.

Camping Gear

Camping on the Abel Tasman Coast Track is definitely worth carrying the bigger backpack. Campgrounds are plentiful (although you do need to book ahead), and there’s no better way to immerse yourself in the great outdoors than sleeping under the stars. With the right gear and a manageable pack size, you are guaranteed to have an amazing experience conquering the Abel Tasman with your own tent.

Most valuable camping gear: Nemo Tensor Ultralite Sleeping Pad

We all know how important a good night’s sleep is, especially when you’re putting your body through the demands of a multi-day trek. However, it can be so hard to get comfortable when you’re sleeping in a tent. Thankfully, this Nemo sleeping pad changes all of that. It’s nice and thick, meaning it even works for side sleepers! Plus, it is very lightweight, packable, and easy to inflate. It’s a total game-changer.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
TentMSR Hubba Hubba NX Backpacking TentThis is the best designed tent on the market. The genius freestanding rain cover allows you to pack up all of your gear and tent while still being sheltered- perfect for rainy mornings!
Sleeping BagMarmot Trestles 30 Sleeping BagSuper compact, light, and cozy, this bag is a great value. If you’re walking in the summer months, you should only need the 30-degree version.
Sleeping PadNemo Tensor Ultralight Camping PadIf you are a side sleeper this is a must! Even if you’re not, this is one of the most lightweight and comfortable sleeping pads out there. The pump sack makes inflating it a breeze, too!
PillowTherm-a-Rest Compressible PillowNot 100% necessary, but a small luxury that is definitely worth carrying in your pack.
Stove+FuelMSR Pocket RocketIan has used this stove for nearly a decade and highly recommends it!
Backpacking PotGSI Outdoors Halulite BoilerThis versatile and high-quality pot is the perfect size for anything from boiling water to making porridge.
Plate/Bowl/MugMSR 2-Person Mess KitWe find this bowl and mug combo to be light, durable, and perfect for camp dinners.
UtensilHumangear SporkThe only utensil you’ll need!
Advance reservations are required for all huts and campsites along the Coast Track.

Hut Gear

Even if you choose to sleep indoors on your Abel Tasman trek, there are some essential items you’ll need to make sure you pack. The huts are typically quite basic, and most do not have lighting nor cooking stoves. At a minimum, hikers staying in huts should bring a sleeping bag, cookset, headlamp, and all of their own food.

Most valuable camping gear: MSR 2-Person Mess Kit

One of the benefits of sleeping in huts is that you can carry a smaller rucksack. However, it’s a little trickier to pack light on the Abel Tasman when you need to carry your own cooking gear. This MSR Kit is super lightweight, easy to pack, and convenient for all of those al fresco dinners and trailside coffee breaks.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Sleeping BagMarmot Trestles 30 Sleeping BagSuper compact, light, and cozy, this bag is a great value. If you’re walking in the summer months, you should only need the 30-degree version.
PillowTherm-a-Rest Compressible PillowNot 100% necessary, but a small luxury that is definitely worth carrying in your pack.
Stove+FuelMSR Pocket RocketIan has used this stove for nearly a decade and highly recommends it!
Backpacking PotGSI Outdoors Halulite BoilerThis versatile and high-quality pot is the perfect size for anything from boiling water to making porridge.
Plate/Bowl/MugMSR 2-Person Mess KitWe find this bowl and mug combo to be light, durable, and perfect for camp dinners.
UtensilHumangear SporkThe only utensil you’ll need!
Eye MaskAlaska BearPerfect to block out light while sleeping in dormitories.
EarplugsMack’s Ear PlugsThe best defense for that snorer next door!
Sunset on the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Conclusion

The Abel Tasman Coast Track, with its rugged shoreline, spectacular beaches, and unique scenery, is certainly one of New Zealand’s most memorable walks. While it’s definitely manageable for walkers of all ability levels, it’s not without its challenges. By putting together a smart kit, you’ll get to focus your energy on the good kinds of challenges (like climbing a steep hill or covering vast distances), and avoid the less fun types of challenges (getting soaked in a downpour or dealing with blisters). The gear choose to pack (and leave behind) will be essential in ensuring that you have everything you need to stay comfortable, prepared, and injury-free without carrying a bigger rucksack than needed. Happy trails!

Keep Reading