The Routeburn Track on New Zealand’s South Island is a classic walk with one of the best alpine crossings in this spectacular country. Over the course of three days the…
The Routeburn Track on New Zealand’s South Island is a classic walk with one of the best alpine crossings in this spectacular country. Over the course of three days the route connects Mt. Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park with jaw dropping scenery throughout. A network of Department of Conservation huts and campsites provide accommodation along the tramp and the walk is well served with plentiful transportation options at both ends. This post will give you an introduction to the incredible Routeburn Track by providing in-depth maps, navigational resources, and much more!
Stunning views from Harris Saddle on the Routeburn Track.
Where is the Routeburn Track?
The Routeburn Track is located in the southwest corner of New Zealand’s South Island. The route is accessed from the Routeburn Shelter on the eastern end and The Divide on the west. The Routeburn is typically walked from east to west, beginning at the Routeburn Shelter and finishing at the Divide, although it is possible to walk in the opposite direction as well. In between these two points the track crosses the Harris Saddle, with spectacular views of the surrounding high mountains and verdant valleys.
The Routeburn Track connects Mt. Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks on New Zealand’s South Island.
The nearest town to the traditional starting point of the Routeburn Shelter is Glenorchy, located on the far shores of Lake Wakatipu. Glenorchy is a beautiful place to spend a night before your trek and has a much quieter vibe than nearby Queenstown. You’ll find plenty of transport options to the Routeburn Shelter from either Glenorchy or Queenstown, so deciding between the two is a matter of personal preference.
The Routeburn finishes on its western end at what is known as The Divide, which is little more than a car park with a few restrooms. From here most walkers book onward transportation to Te Anau, just south of the Divide, back to the Queenstown area, or north to Milford Sound for a bit of sightseeing. There are plenty transportation providers who will pick you up at the Divide, but be sure you’ve arranged it ahead of time as buses can be full during peak season.
Hiking alongside Lake Harris on the Routeburn.
Between the start and finish points, the Routeburn Track provides some of the best walking in New Zealand. The highlight is the crossing of the Harris Saddle, with its stunning views of the Hollyford Valley, Lake Harris, and the rugged mountains beyond. However, you’ll also experience beautiful beech forest, high-alpine meadows, and a spectacularly situated trail.
There are four Department of Conservation Huts along the route as well as three campsites, giving you plenty of options for accommodation. Given that the Routeburn Track is one of the most popular Great Walks advance bookings for the the huts and campsites is required.
The route is typically completed in three days with overnight stops at the Routeburn Falls Hut and Lake Mackenzie Hut, both located in spectacular settings. For those interested in camping your best bet for a three day itinerary is to camp at the Routeburn Flats campsite and Lake Mackenzie campsite. Below is the standard itinerary for the Routeburn Track:
Stage 1: Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Falls Hut
Stage 2: Routeburn Falls Hut to Lake Mackenzie Hut
Stage 3: Lake Mackenzie Hut to The Divide
Map of the Routeburn Track.
In addition to completing the main trail, trampers will have the option to complete a few worthwhile side trips along their trek. The first is the climbing of Conical Hill from the Harris Saddle. If the weather is clear, we highly recommend it as the views are truly outstanding. However, if there is bad weather it is best avoided as conditions at the top can be quite severe.
You’ll also have the opportunity to hike to the top of Key Summit on what will most likely be your last day. This is a shorter hike than Conical Hill, but still boasts stand out views. You can view the trails to the top of Conical Hill and the Key Summit on the maps below.
If the weather is pleasant, we highly recommend a hike to the top of Conical Hill from the Harris Saddle.
If you just can’t get enough of the tremendous views on the Routeburn be sure to take a side trip to the top of Key Summit.
Interactive Routeburn map
The interactive Routeburn Track map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route.
How long is the Routeburn?
The Department of Conservation website lists the Routeburn track as 33 kilometers long. While certainly a very accurate estimate, we measure (via GPS) the Routeburn to be 31.45 kilometers (19.5 miles) from the Routeburn Shelter to The Divide.
Of course, measuring the exact distance of the walk has very little practical value as you’ll certainly end up walking a bit further than any exact distance we provide. Most walkers will at a minimum want to take a side trip to the top of Conical Hill, weather permitting, which adds an additional 2 kilometers. Add in the 1.7 kilometer round-trip hike to the top of Key Summit and you’ve already walked over 35 kilometers total. In addition, evening explorations to stretch the legs, countless opportunities to take in view points, and short side trips to trail side lakes will make the distance actually walked vary from person to person.
However, it is still helpful to have an idea of the distances of each stage of the Routeburn Track. The map below shows just that, with the approximate distances of each stage provided. The distances are calculated based on the classic itinerary outlined above.
Distances for the traditional three stages of the Routeburn Track.
Routeburn Track Elevation Profile
At its heart the Routeburn Track is an alpine crossing as walkers make their way over the Harris Saddle. As discussed above, this takes approximately 31.5 kilometers and gains 2,130 meters. Averaged over the traditional three stages this equates to an average of 710 meters of elevation gain each day. The majority of this elevation gain occurs on the first stage as walkers begin the long ascent towards the Harris Saddle.
Harris Saddle is near the high point of the Routeburn Track and sits at 1,254 meters above sea level. For those who trek to the top of Concial Hill you’ll reach an elevation of 1,515 meters. Since The Divide sits at a slightly higher elevation than the Routeburn Shelter, those walking in the traditional direction will gain a bit more elevation than they lose.
The elevation profile shown below will give you an overview of what each stage of the Routeburn Track in like in terms of total elevation change as well as distance covered. Elevation is shown on the left side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents one of the Department of Conservation Huts/Campsites along the route.
The steepness of the line between any two points reflects the steepness of the trail for that particular stage. The distance between the two points shows the length of the the stage. For instance, you can see that the stage from the Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Falls Hut has a lot of elevation gain, while the stage from Lake Mackenzie Hut to The Divide covers quite a bit of distance.
You can use the elevation profile below to help plan your own itinerary for the Routeburn Track, taking into account distance and elevation between any two stopping points.
Elevation profile of the Routeburn Track.
Which maps should I carry on the Routeburn Track?
As with all the Great Walks, the Routeburn Track is a well marked and easy to follow trail. Given the number of hikers, clear path, and good signage there will be little opportunity to take a wrong turn. However, we always recommend carrying a physical map with you on any backcountry trip.
The best physical map to bring on the Routeburn is the NewTopo Routeburn/Greenstone-Caples Track map. This map covers the tramp at a 1:40,000 scale and also includes the nearby Greenstone-Caples Track. Given that you are more likely than not to experience at least some rain on your walk, we also recommend bringing a waterproof carrying caselike this one.
Beyond just a physical map, we highly recommend all hikers along the Routeburn have some type of GPS navigation on their walk. The Routeburn is notorious for thick fog/cloud cover that can set in on the track, making navigation difficult. A GPS app on your phone can greatly help with this issue, as the signal can typically penetrate the cloud cover to show you where you are on the trail at any given point. Since there is limited to no cell phone service on the Routeburn Track, it is very important to have a good offline mapping app, such as Gaia GPS, to ensure you’ll be able to access your location along the walk.
The Routeburn is typically walked over three days, with each stage finishing at a Department of Conservation Hut/Campsite. Maps for the traditional three day Routeburn itinerary are shown below.
Stage 1: Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Falls Hut
Distance: 9.1 km Elevation Gain/Loss: +800 m / -304 m
Stage 1 of the Routeburn Track from the Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Falls Hut.
Stage 2: Routeburn Falls Hut to Lake Mackenzie Hut
Distance: 10.85 km Elevation Gain/Loss: +702 m / -787 m
Stage 2 of the Routeburn Track from Routeburn Falls Hut to Lake Mackenzie Hut.
Stage 3: Lake Mackenzie Hut to The Divide
Distance: 11.49 km Elevation Gain/Loss: +629 m / -996 m
Stage 3 of the Routeburn Track from Lake Mackenzie Hut to The Divide.
Routeburn Track GPS/GPX
If you’re interested in getting access to the GPS data used to create all of the maps in this post, we are happy to offer our Routeburn Track GPX file for only $4.99. When you download the GPX file, you’ll get route data for each stage of the Routeburn Track, way-points for each of the Department of Conservation huts and campsites along the route, and route data for the Conical Hill and Key Summit side trips.
You’ll be able to load the GPX file into the mapping software or GPS phone app of your choice!
As mentioned above we utilized offline downloadable GPS maps on our smartphones to navigate while walking the Routeburn Track. This is a great way to navigate on the trail as it allows you to see your progress for the day and also doesn’t require a cell phone signal (which you likely won’t have) to display the map. Our How to Navigate on the Tour du Mont Blanc post has all the information you need to get set up using an app for your map. Although written for a different hike, this step-by-step article will teach you how to quickly and easily turn your phone into a GPS device for the Routeburn.
Have a great Routeburn Adventure!
We hope this post has given you all the information you need to get a basic overview of the Routeburn Track. Let us know your questions or comments below. Happy trails!
The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s most stunning Great Walks and is commonly referred to as the ‘finest walk in the world’. The route starts along the shores…
The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s most stunning Great Walks and is commonly referred to as the ‘finest walk in the world’. The route starts along the shores of Lake Te Anau and finishes in Milford Sound at Sandfly Point. The Milford track is completed in four days with overnight accommodation at well run Department of Conservation huts. This article will introduce you to this incredible trail, give an overview of the Milford Track route, as well as provide in depth maps, navigational resources, and much more so you can be sure you’re ready to tackle the finest walk in the world!
Located in the far southwest of New Zealand’s South Island, the Milford Track explores the stunning valleys, high mountain passes, and untouched rainforest of Fiordland National Park.
The Milford Track brings walkers to the stunning Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island.
The walk begins at Glade Wharf along the shores of Lake Te Anau, which is only accessible via boat from Te Anau Downs. The nearest town to the start of the walk is Te Anau, where there is ample accommodation for both before and after the walk. On the northern end of the track walkers will finish at Sandfly Point, a short boat ride from Milford Sound village. While not exactly a town, here you’ll find overnight accommodation, transportation links, and plenty of tour operators. Walkers may be in for a bit of shock when they encounter the vast number of visitors in Milford Sound for a boat tour, kayak trip, or sightseeing flight after four days in the wilderness!
The Milford Track finishes with a boat ride through Milford Sound.
In between Glade Wharf and Sandfly Point, walkers will spend most of their trek exploring two glacially carved valleys (the Clinton and Arthur River valleys) separated by the stunning Mackinnon Pass. You must stay in the designated Department of Conservation huts along the way (unless you have booked a private, guided trek) and you must complete the walk in four days during the Great Walk season from the end of October through the end of April. This is to help manage the total number of walkers on the track at any point and ensure trampers stay reasonably spread out along the trek. The stages of the Milford Track are as follows:
Stage 1: Glade Wharf to Clinton Hut
Stage 2: Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut
Stage 3: Mintaro Hut to Dumpling Hut
Stage 4: Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point
The Milford Track must be completed in four stages.
Unlike many long-distance walks, there are no alternate trails along the Milford Track. However, there is the opportunity to take in a few side trails along the way, with the most notable example being a visit to Sutherland Falls, shown on the map below.
Sutherland Falls can be visited via a short detour off the Milford Track.
Interactive Milford Track map
The interactive Milford Track map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route.
How long is the Milford Track?
Most sources list the Milford Track as being 53.5 kilometers or 33.2 miles long from Glade Wharf to Sandfly Point. While this is certainly very accurate, we measure (via GPS) the Milford Track to be 54.5 kilometers long. But what’s a single kilometer!
Of course, measuring the exact distance of the walk has very little practical value as you’ll certainly end up walking a bit further than any exact distance we provide. Most walkers will at a minimum want to take a side trip to see the spectacular Sutherland Falls, which is approximately 4.5 kilometers round-trip. In addition, evening explorations to stretch the legs, countless opportunities to take in view points, and short side trips to trail side lakes will make the distance actually walked vary from person to person.
However, it is still helpful to have an idea of the distances of each stage of the Milford Track. The map below shows just that, with the approximate distances of each stage provided. These distances don’t include a trip to Sutherland Falls so be sure to factor that in as well.
Distances of the four stages of the Milford Track in kilometers.
What is the elevation profile of the Milford Track?
Over the course of the Milford Track’s 54.5 kilometers the trail gains approximately 1,755 meters! Averaged across the four stages this equates to around 440 meters of elevation gain each day. Of course, the majority of this elevation games comes on Stage 2 and 3 of the Milford Track which brings the crossing of Mackinnon Pass.
Mackinnon Pass is the high point (literally and figuratively!) of the Milford Track at 1,154 meters above sea level. Given that you finish at sea-level you can at least appreciate the fact that you’ll ultimately lose more elevation than you’ll gain on the Milford Track.
Mackinnon Pass is the high point of the Milford Track.
The elevation profile shown below will give you an overview of what each stage of the Milford Track in like in terms of total elevation change as well as distance covered. Elevation is shown on the left side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents one of the Department of Conservation Huts along the route where each stage finishes.
The steepness of the line between any two points reflects the steepness of the trail for that particular stage. The distance between the two points shows the length of the the stage. So for instance you can see that the stage from Mintaro Hut to Dumpling Hut has a lot of elevation gain, while the stage from Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut covers quite a bit of distance.
Elevation profile for the Milford Track in kilometers and meters.
Which maps should I carry on the Milford Track?
The Milford Track is a remarkably well marked and easy to follow trail. There is little opportunity to take a wrong turn and most trampers will have no problem navigating on the trail. However, we always recommend carrying a map with you on any backcountry or wilderness excursion and the Milford Track is no exception.
When we walked the Milford Track we did not rely on a physical map, instead preferring to utilize GPS navigation on our phones. Given that there is limited to no cell phone service on the Milford Track, it is very important to have a good offline mapping app, such as Gaia GPS, to ensure you’ll be able to access your location along the walk.
In addition to GPS navigation, we recommend all trampers also carry a physical map. In the event the famous Fiordland rain renders your phone unusable you’ll be glad you brought it! There are a few options for Milford Track topographic maps out there, and we recommend the NewTopo map available here. The 1:40,000 scale is sufficient for basic navigation along the route.
Given the high probability of rain during your trek we also recommend bringing a weatherproof carrying case like this one.
Stage-by-stage maps for the Milford Track
The Milford Track is broken into four distinct stages with each stage finishing at a designated Department of Conservation hut. Maps for each of the four stages of the Milford Track are shown below.
Stage 1: Glade Wharf to Clinton Hut
Distance: 4.8 km Elevation Gain/Loss: +140 m / -150m
Stage 1 from Glade Wharf to Clinton Hut.
Stage 2: Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut
Distance: 17.75 km Elevation Gain/Loss: +854 m / -430 m
Stage 2 from Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut.
Stage 3: Mintaro Hut to Dumpling Hut
Distance: 13.7 km Elevation Gain/Loss: +753 m / -1248 m
Stage 3 from the Mintaro Hut to Dumpling Hut.
Stage 4: Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point
Distance: 18.3 km Elevation Gain/Loss: +560 m / -672 m
Stage 4 from the Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point.
Milford Track GPS/GPX
If you’re interested in getting access to the GPS data used to create all of the maps in this post, we are happy to offer our Milford Track GPX files for only $4.99. When you download the GPX file, you’ll get route data for each stage of the Milford Track, plus way-points for each of the Department of Conservation huts along the route.
You’ll be able to load the GPX file into the mapping software or GPS phone app of your choice!
As mentioned above we utilized offline downloadable GPS maps on our smartphones to navigate while walking the Milford Track. This is a great way to navigate on the trail as it allows you to see your progress for the day and also doesn’t require a cell phone signal (which you likely won’t have) to display the map. Our Milford Track Offline Mapping post has all the information you need to get set up using an app for your map. This step-by-step article will teach you how to quickly and easily turn your phone into a GPS device.
Check out our other great Milford Track Resources:
The Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks, treks that are designed to showcase the best of this stunning country. The Coast Track highlights the…
The Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks, treks that are designed to showcase the best of this stunning country. The Coast Track highlights the incredible beaches, tropical forests, and turquoise waters of the Abel Tasman National Park on the northwest corner of New Zealand’s South Island. Over 60+ kilometers, the Abel Tasman Coast Track follows the often rugged coastline and is serviced by a series of Department of Conservation huts and campsites along the route. The track is the easiest of all the Great Walks due to its easy grades, well maintained trail, and ease of access.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to plan your perfect adventure on the Abel Tasman Coast Track!
The Abel Tasman Coast Track covers 60+ km from Marahau to Wainui.
The Abel Tasman Coast Track is the most popular of the Great Walks. It follows the shoreline from the car park just north of the town of Marahau to its end point at Wainui. However, due to the lack of transportation options at Wainui, many walkers opt to finish at Totaranui by completing the Gibbs Hill track at the end of the walk. Completing the entire walk will take you along 60+ kilometers of this beautiful coastline with overnight accommodation options frequent along the walk. Keep reading below for some essential information as you begin to plan your Abel Tasman Coast Track adventure!
You’ll visit countless stunning beaches along your walk.
How long is the Coast Track?
The short answer: it depends!
In general, trampers should expect to cover around 60 kilometers on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. This will of course vary depending on your chosen itinerary, if you’re able to take low-tide routes, side trips to see points of interest, and countless other factors. However, we’ve provided some general distances for planning purposes below:
For those completing the Coast Track in its entirety and finishing at the Wainui car park you’ll cover approximately 58 kilometers.
If opt to complete the Gibbs Hill Track to connect back to Totaranui (which we recommend!) you should plan on covering 62 kilometers.
In addition to the main track, there are countless opportunities to take short detours along the walk to stunning viewpoints, waterfalls, and sandy beaches. These will surely add a bit of distance to your total walk, but we highly recommend exploring while on your walk!
The Abel Tasman Coast Walk is considered by many to be the easiest of New Zealand’s Great Walks. The trail is very well maintained and you’ll rarely encounter a tough section. Most trampers opt to walk in just running shoes given the ease of the trail and the likelihood of getting your feet wet. However, walkers should still be well prepared as any multi-day trek is a serious undertaking.
As you can see on the elevation profile below, there isn’t a significant amount of elevation encountered on the walk until the final day. Even so, the hike will be manageable for the vast majority of walkers.
Elevation profile of the Abel Tasman Coast Track.
Many of the challenges of walking in Abel Tasman National Park are related to heat, bugs, and the highly variable tides. Be sure to bring plenty of water, a good hat, insect repellent, and be aware of tidal crossing. Keeping these tips in mind, most reasonably fit hikers should have no problem completing the Abel Tasman Coast Track.
You can expect well maintained trails and easy walking on the Abel Tasman Coast Track.
Abel Tasman Coast Track Reservations
Advance reservations are required for all of the huts and campsites along the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Given the popularity of the walk, it is recommended that you book your accommodation as far in advance as possible. You can book your huts/campsites directly through the Department of Conservation at the link below:
It is important to think through a few key details prior to making your booking, all of which we cover in this post:
How many days will you take to walk the Coast Track?
How do you plan to get back to Marahau from the end of your walk?
If possible, it is good to have some flexibility in the number of days you’ll spend on the track and/or the day you plan to start. You may discover that a specific hut or campsite is fully booked for your ideal day, in which case you may need to get creative to plan your walk. Camping alleviates some of this issue as there are 19 campsites along the route compared with only four huts.
Advance reservations are required for all huts and campsites along the Coast Track.
When to hike the Coast Track
The Abel Tasman Coast Track can be walked year round. This part of New Zealand is renowned for its abundant sunshine and mild climate, making the Coast Track the perfect adventure for any time of year. A breakdown by season is below:
Summer (December, January, February):
During New Zealand’s summer months the track will be at its most crowded. However, in exchange for these crowds you’ll get reliably sunny weather, plenty of transportation options, and might even be able to brave the chilly waters for longer than a few minutes!
Summer brings near perfect weather to the region.
Fall (March, April, May):
Many consider fall to be the best time to walk the Abel Tasman Coast Track. The crowds start to thin out, but you’re still likely to be treated to warm and sunny weather. If you have your pick, this is the time to walk!
Fall may be the best time to walk the Coast Track.
Winter (June, July, August):
Come the winter months you’ll be more likely to encounter cooler temperatures and rain along the walk. However, accommodation should be easy to reserve and you can expect to have many sections of trail to yourself!
Winter brings cooler temperatures and more rain to Abel Tasman National Park, but also plenty of solitude along the Coast Track.
Spring (September, October, November):
As winter turns to spring the weather in Abel Tasman National Park starts to improve. While you can expect to see a few more rain showers, this is generally a great time to walk the Coast Track before the summer crowds arrive.
Tides on the Coast Track
Given the fact that the Coast Track closely follows the shoreline, walkers will need to be aware of tides, especially in the two sections described below:
Awaroa Inlet You’ll encounter the Awaroa Inlet immediately after the Awaroa Hut, on what will likely be your third or fourth day of the walk. The tides here are dramatic, varying by up to 6 meters depending on the time of day and season. For this reason, you are only able to cross the Awaroa Inlet between 1.5 hours before and 2 hours after low tide. This is important to plan for as the low tide time will dictate how far you are able to walk that day. The Department of Conservation publishes low tide times here.
High tide at the Awaroa Inlet.
Low tide at the Awaroa Inlet – much easier to cross!
Torrent Bay Torrent Bay is just past the Anchorage Hut and most walkers will need to cross here at the start of their second day. Similar to the Awaroa Inlet above, Torrent Bay can only be crossed within two hours of low-tide. Fortunately, there is a high-tide track that circumnavigates the bay and allows walkers to cross at anytime. See the map below for more detail. Our best advice is to plan on taking the high-tide track around Torrent Bay, but you just may get lucky and be able to cross at low-tide.
There is a high-tide and low-tide option for crossing Torrent Bay on the Coast Track.
Bugs & Pests
There are few things that could spoil the splendor of your surroundings while walking the Coast Track in Abel Tasman National Park. The few that you should be prepared for are sandflies and wasps. You’ll encounter sandflies throughout New Zealand and those who have been in the country for more than a few days will likely be all too familiar with them. These tiny, biting insects swarm you covering any exposed skin with itchy bites! It’s not all doom and gloom though as sandflies are mostly only around during the dawn and dusk hours. Be sure to bring some insect repellent for when they do come out though!
The beautiful beaches of Abel Tasman can harbor some unwanted pests!
Abel Tasman Coast Track: Logistics
The Coast Track is remarkably well connected and easy to access. However, there are a few key pieces of information outlined in the following sections that you should keep in mind when planning your trek.
Getting to and from the Abel Tasman Coast Track
Most walker’s will access the Coast Track from the town of Nelson, which sits on the other side of the Tasman Bay from Marahau and Abel Tasman National Park. There is frequent bus service connecting Nelson to Marahau (the traditional starting point for the Coast Track) with most services also stopping in Motueka en route. Some popular service providers include:
ScenicNZ: Offers a daily bus connection between Nelson and Marahau via Motueka.
Trek Express: This tramper focused provider offers transport to/from the Coast Track and Nelson.
Depending on your chosen itinerary you’re likely to finish your walk in either Wainui or Totaranui. While Wainui is the official end point of the Coast Track, transportation options are limited. As a result, it is more common for trampers to finish their walk by taking looping back to Totaranui via the Gibbs Hill Track. Your best options for getting back to Marahau from each potential finishing points are below:
Getting from Wainui to Marahau Trek Express operates the most reliable service between the end of the Coast Track in Wainui and Marahau. Expect on the journey taking approximately 1.5 hours. In addition, Golden Bay Coachlines operates a bus service between Wainui and Nelson, with a stop at the car park in Marahau.
Getting from Totaranui to Marahau Most trekkers opt to finish their walk in Totaranui where you’ll have many more transport options back to the start of the track available. One of the big appeals of finishing here is that you’ll be taking a water taxi back to the Marahau, a fantastic way to cap off your time in Abel Tasman National Park! Your best bets for water taxis from Totaranui to Marahau are below:
Marahau Water Taxis: This service provides efficient transportation back to Marahau and also has options to connect you back to Nelson via bus.
Water taxis are plentiful along the Abel Tasman Coast Track.
Where to leave your car when walking the Coast Track
If you’ve driven your own car or campervan to Abel Tasman you’ll want to know where to park it. Luckily, the Department of Conservation provides free overnight parking at three locations along the Coast Track: Marahau, Totaranui, and Wainui. The car parks are not covered, but at least give you an easy place to leave your vehicle. Keep in mind that you are not allowed to camp overnight at any of the three car parks!
Transportation on the Abel Tasman Coast Track
Many walkers on the Coast Track will opt to only walk a specific section of the Coast Track (more on that below!) and may need transport from other points along the route. If this is the case you find yourself in, your best bet will almost certainly be to take a water taxi back to Marahau. All of the water taxi providers listed above will be happy to accommodate and will pick you up from any of the following access points:
Apple Tree Bay
It is important to note that no motorized boat traffic is allowed past Totaranui in Abel Tasman National Park. This is to maintain the natural state of the northern section of the park, so you’ll want to be sure you take that into account when planning your walk.
There is no motorized traffic allowed past Totaranui in Abel Tasman National Park.
Accommodation on the Abel Tasman Coast Track
The Coast Walk is well served by a network of Department of Conservation huts and campsites. These huts and campsites make it easy for walkers to plan a variety of itineraries and provide excellent accommodation options. In addition to the Department of Conservation options there are also a few private accommodation options along the track that give the weary walker options other than pitching their tent or settling for a noisy bunk room. Keep reading below to see what sleeping quarters await you on the Coast Track.
Department of Conservation Huts & Campsites
The Department of Conservation provides a network of 19 campsites and 4 huts along the Coast Track. The four huts along the walk are evenly spaced to make for an easy five-day itinerary for those who don’t want to sleep in their tent. These huts are located at Anchorage, Bark Bay, Awaroa Bay, and Whariwharangi. Each of the huts also has a campsite adjacent to it, so campers can also enjoy the simplicity of stopping at these locations.
In addition to the four campsites located next to the DoC huts along the Coast Track there are 15 other sites scattered along the Coast Track. Many of these won’t make sense for trampers given their location, but several provide a great alternative for those who prefer a quieter campsite. We describe your best options in the itinerary section below.
Abel Tasman Coast Track Huts As mentioned above, the DoC provides huts at Anchorage, Bark Bary, Awaroa Bay, and Whariwharangi. All of these huts are quite basic and provide a common room, sleeping quarters with basic mattresses, potable water, and bathrooms. You’ll need to bring cooking supplies and a camp stove as none of the huts feature cooking facilities, a sleeping bag, and a headlamp as many of the huts do not have lighting.
The huts must all be reserved in advance and have varying rates depending on the time of year and whether or not you are a Kiwi or international tourist.
Abel Tasman Coast Track Campsites There is a network of 19 DoC campsites along the Coast Track. All of the campsites along the route provide toilets and potable water, while some of the larger ones provide a cooking shelter, picnic tables, and seating areas. It is important to note that if camping outside one of the four huts along the route you are not allowed to use the hut facilities. You’ll need to bring all of your own camping equipment, including a stove and cooking supplies, as none of the campsites are equipped with stoves.
You also are not allowed to use a hammock at any of the campsites in Abel Tasman National Park, so be sure you’ve packed your tent, bivvy, or other sleep system.
As with the huts along the route you are required to reserve your all of your campsites along the Coast Track in advance. The fee for these campsites varies depending on the time of year and depending on if you are a local New Zealander or not.
Camping mere steps from the beach at Anapai Bay along the Coast Track.
In addition to the Department of Conservation huts and campsites along the route there are also a handful of private accommodation providers along the Coast Track. If you’re looking for something unique (see Aquapackers), a little more luxurious (check out the Awaroa Lodge), or something with a bed and breakfast feel (the Meadowbank Homestead) the following options will surely meet your needs!
Aquapackers The Aquapackers Hostel is a truly unique accommodation in Abel Tasman National Park. This floating hostel is anchored in Anchorage Bay has dorm beds as well as private cabins. Your room rate includes dinner, breakfast, and bedding for your stay. The vibe is typically a younger crowd, although they do try to keep noise to a minimum.
Torrent Bay Lodge
The Torrent Bay Lodge offers luxurious digs just past Anchorage along the Coast Track. Unfortunately for trampers, they require a minimum two-night stay during peak season. Alternatively you can book a package Coast Walk experience that will have you staying at their other lodge along the route.
The Awaroa Lodge is located just up the trail from the main DoC hut and campsite at the Awaroa Inlet. This is the most luxurious option along the Coast Track and makes the perfect place to treat yourself to a night of luxury along the Coast Track.
Meadowbank Homestead at Awaroa
Similar to the Torrent Bay Lodge, the Meadowbank Homestead is geared toward those in search of a bit more luxury. During high season you’ll have to book a package stay that includes a night at the Torrent Bay Lodge.
Stage-by-stage Itinerary for the Abel Tasman Coast Track
We recommend hiking the Coast Track over 3 – 5 days depending on your hiking ability, pace preferences, and weather conditions. The classic itinerary described below takes five days to complete and will be the best option for the majority of hikers.
Stage 1: Marahau to Anchorage
Distance & Elevation: 11.7 km // +737 m, -728 m
Where to stay: Anchorage Hut & Campsite // Te Pukatea Campsite
Description: The Abel Tasman Coast Track begins from the car park outside of Marahau and crosses a tidal estuary via a well-built wooden walkway. From here the track climbs gently and begins to open up to stunning views of the sea beyond. There are frequent side tracks down to the water if you fancy a dip at this early stage.
At approximately 7 km into the walk the track will turn inland and climb along the hillside. Near the top of the hill you’ll be presented with diverging trails. The trail on the right will lead you down to the Anchorage Hut and Campsite while the trail on the left continues on the Coast Track for those who are walking a bit further on their first day.
The Anchorage Hut can accommodate up to 34 people and has a large campsite adjacent. For those who are camping and would like a bit quieter accommodation we recommend continuing on a bit further past Anchorage to the Te Pukatea campsite.
Stage One of the Coast Track from Marahau to Anchorage.
The Coast Track starts by crossing a tidal estuary just outside of Marahau.
Stage 2: Anchorage to Bark Bay
Distance & Elevation: 11.2 km // +657 m, -660 m
Where to stay: Bark Bay Hut & Campsite
From Anchorage Bay you’ll quickly reach Torrent Bay where you’ll have two options. The first option is to take the high-tide route which circumnavigates the bay and is passable at all times. A short detour off the high-tide route is Cleopatra’s Pool, a perfect swimming hole on a hot day!
The second option is to take the low-tide alternate (shown on the map below), which crosses directly across Torrent Bay. This route is only passable within 2 hours before and after low-tide, so it is best to plan on taking the high-tide route.
Once past Torrent Bay the track turns inland and gently climbs the coastal hillside. You’ll soon reach the Falls River and cross a long swing bridge over the river. Swing bridges are a staple of New Zealand tramping, so be sure to take in the view! From the swing bridge the trail returns to the coast and winds its way to the Bark Bay Hut & Campsite. The campsite at Bark Bay is located to the right, just off the main trail.
Stage Two of the Coast Track from Anchorage to Bark Bay.
Crossing the Falls River Swing Bridge on the way to Bark Bay.
Stage 3: Bark Bay to Awaroa Bay
Distance & Elevation: 12.2 km // +634 m, -635 m
Where to stay: Awaroa Hut & Campsite // Awaroa Lodge
From Bark Bay you’ll begin your walk to Awaroa Bay by either crossing the tidal estuary at low-tide, or taking the high-tide track around the bay. The high-tide track only adds 10 minutes to your walk, so no need to plan in advance. From here the Coast Track once again turns inland as you make your way to the former Tonga Quarry. Continuing along the coast you’ll reach Onetahuti Beach, which the Coast Track walks along for nearly 1 km!
From the end of the beach you’ll climb through the bush before descending to Awaroa Bay. Here you’ll find the Department of Conservation run Awaroa Bay Hut & Campsite as well as the adjacent Awaroa Lodge. The Lodge is a great place to spend the night if you’re in search of a bit more luxury that what the DoC huts have on offer!
Remember that you cannot cross the Awaroa Inlet outside of 1.5 hours before and 2 hours after low-tide. If you plan to walk further on this day you need to consult the tide schedules to be sure it will be possible.
Stage 3 on the Coast Track from Bark Bay to Awaroa.
You’ll have to wait until low-tide to cross the Awaroa Inlet.
Stage 4: Awaroa Bay to Whariwharangi
Distance & Elevation: 17.3 km // +805 m, -801 m
Where to stay: Whariwharangi Hut & Campsite // Anapai Beach Campsite
After crossing the Awaroa Inlet to begin Stage 4 of the Abel Tasman Coast Track the route cuts across a forested headland before heading back to the coast. The trail continues on hugging the shoreline along Goat Bay before a short, but steep climb brings you to a viewpoint with spectacular views of Totaranui Beach. Heading down from the lookout you’ll eventually reach Totaranui with its huge campsite and busy dock. Many walkers opt to finish at this point and grab a water taxi back to Marahau. If you want to spend the night at Totaranui keep in mind that there is no hut here, so you’ll need to camp.
For those continuing on you’ll follow the road through the Totaranui complex before turning right, walking past a parking area, and then picking up the main trail again as it heads into the bush. You’ll climb up and over another headland before arriving at the Anapai Beach Campsite. This is a great option for those looking to camp near Totaranui, but prefer a quieter site. Located on a lovely beach, this is a great place to spend the night!
From Anapai Beach the track climbs steadily before descending down to Mutton Cove. From here the main Coast Track heads inland, although we highly recommend taking the alternative route to Separation Point, with its beautiful views of the sea beyond. The main Coast Track and Separation Point track meet again at a high point and then descend to the Whariwharangi Hut & Campsite. This is the last hut along the Coast Track and a lovely place to spend you last evening.
Stage 4 on the Coast Track from Awaroa Bay to Whariwharangi.
Taking in views of Totaranui Beach on the Coast Track.
Stage 5: Whariwharangi to Totaranui (via Gibbs Hill Track)
Distance & Elevation: 9.8 km // +677 m, -679 m
Where to stay: Totaranui or onward travel accommodation
The final stage of the Abel Tasman Coast Track presents walkers with two options. The first is to finish the walk on the traditional route by descending to the carpark at Wainui, just over 5 km from the Whariwharangi Hut. The problem with this option is that there is not frequent transportation from the end of the walk in Wainui, with only a few bus operators serving the car park and official end of the Coast Track. The second option, and what we recommend, is to take the Gibbs Hill Track back to Totaranui. This makes for a 10km walk from Whariwharangi, but you’ll have many more transportation options back to Marahau and Nelson from Totaranui. Plus, you’ll get to see a bit more of the mountainous interior of Abel Tasman National Park.
Regardless of your choice, you’ll begin by leaving the hut or campsite at Whariwharangi and climbing steadily up to the junction with the Gibbs Hill Track. For those heading to Wainui, it’s a short 3 km descent to the car park and finish of the Coast Track. For those continuing on to Totaranui, you’ll join the Gibbs Hill track as it ascends towards a high point at, you guessed it, Gibbs Hill. From here the track begins its descent to Totaranui and you’ll soon come to a junction where you’ll take a left. From this point it is approximately 4.5 km back to Totaranui.
Regardless of which option you choose you can celebrate in the fact that you’ve just completed the Abel Tasman Coast Walk! Get your transportation out of Abel Tasman sorted out and be sure to enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with completed one of New Zealand’s Great Walks!
Stage 5 of the Coast Track from Whariwharangi to Totaranui or Wainui.
Taking the Gibbs Hill Track back to Totaranui will let you see a different side of Abel Tasman National Park.
Alternative Itineraries for the Coast Track
The five day itinerary described above can be broken into almost countless alternative itineraries for walking the Coast Track. If you’ve only got time for a few days, we suggest the following itineraries:
3-day Abel Tasman Coast Track For those with only three days to spare in Abel Tasman we recommend starting with a big first day to from Marahau to Bark Bay. From Bark Bay you’ll head to Awaroa, where you’re likely to need to spend the night in order to time the tidal crossing correctly. On your final day, head along the coast to Totaranui to catch a water taxi back to the start.
Stage 1: Marahau to Bark Bay: 23 km
Stage 2: Bark Bay to Awaroa Bay: 12 km
Stage 3: Awaroa to Totaranui: 6.5 km
1-day Abel Tasman Coast Track Even with a single day in Abel Tasman you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best parts of the walk. Our recommendation is to take a water taxi to Totaranui and then complete the northern portion of the walk by first hiking to Whariwharangi and then taking the Gibbs Hill Track back to Totaranui. This is the least crowded section of the trail and also has some of the most incredible views, including those from Separation Point.
Abel Tasman Coast Track: What to Pack
Packing for the Coast Track is a balancing act between ensuring you have everything you need while not over packing. In general, you should be able to get by with a 30L – 60L backpack and the following essentials:
Also, you won’t be able to buy any food along the trail. Thus, you’ll need to be sure you’ve packed all you’ll need for the entire walk. In general, we recommend backpacking staples such as ramen, freeze-dried backpacker meals, trail mix, and instant oatmeal. Be sure and think through each day of your walk when meal planning as you want to ensure you’ve brought enough food!
Campers will need to bring a bit more on the Coast Track.
Baggage Transfer on the Coast Track
Taken all of our packing advice above, but still have too much gear? No problem! All of the main water taxi operators will be more than happy to shuttle your packs from beach to beach along the Coast Track. However, remember that there are no water taxis allowed past Totaranui, so you’ll have to carry your own pack past there!
We recommend the following companies for baggage transfer on the Coast Track:
If you’ve read our Complete Guide to the Abel Tasman Coast Track above, you’re well on your way to having an incredible experience on the hike. However, you still have lots of preparation before you’re truly ready! Be sure to read our entire series on the Coast Track to learn everything you’ll need to know to prepare for your trip!
If you’ve decided to use our Guide to the Milford Track in conjunction with our guide on how to navigate on the Milford Track we thought it would be useful to provide…
If you’ve decided to use our Guide to the Milford Track in conjunction with our guide on how to navigate on the Milford Track we thought it would be useful to provide location data for the three huts along the track. While the Milford Track is very well marked, it can be very helpful to see exactly how far you are from your destination. This post will show you how to download GPS locations for the huts to be used with the Backcountry Navigator app (or any other GPS app)!
If you’ve already downloaded the Backcountry Navigator app to help you find your way on the Milford Track, the steps below should be fairly intuitive. If not, be sure to check out the links above to get started with this awesome app.
The Milford Track traverses 53.5 kilometers through New Zealand’s stunning Fiordland National Park. The trail is well marked and well maintained, and thousands of hikers successfully navigate it each year….
The Milford Track traverses 53.5 kilometers through New Zealand’s stunning Fiordland National Park. The trail is well marked and well maintained, and thousands of hikers successfully navigate it each year. However, the Milford Track is still a backcountry trail requiring you to have a solid plan for navigation. This post will explain exactly how I navigated on the Milford Track, show you how to use some of the tools I employed, and even provide some resources for those undertaking the trek. Let’s get started.
Looking to commemorate your Milford Track trip with an awesome souvenir? Look no further than the TMBtent Milford Track Store. We have custom made Milford Track t-shirts and Milford Track…
Looking to commemorate your Milford Track trip with an awesome souvenir? Look no further than the TMBtent Milford Track Store. We have custom made Milford Track t-shirts and Milford Track posters for sale in our Etsy shop. Check out the full selection below:
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Walking the Milford Track will undoubtably be an experience you will never forget. You’ll certainly remember the crystal clear waters of the Clinton River, the awe inspiring height of Sutherland…
Walking the Milford Track will undoubtably be an experience you will never forget. You’ll certainly remember the crystal clear waters of the Clinton River, the awe inspiring height of Sutherland Falls, and stunning views from atop Mackinnon Pass. The only thing about the Milford Track that you may not want to remember is huffing and puffing your way up the trail while your back aches, your legs burn, and you can’t help but know that you’ll be forced to take the top bunk above the snorer for another night. But fear not!
With just a bit of advance work and preparation, you can make sure you’re physically ready to have your best experience on the Milford Track. Read on for our simple advice on how to train for the Milford Track, feel your best, and enjoy your trek to the fullest.
Don’t be left behind on the climb to the top of Mackinnon Pass!
Below you’ll find a detailed packing list that will provide you with great, trail-tested gear that won’t weigh down your backpack too much. This list reflects our personal packing list which will vary for each individual’s specific needs. However, this should serve as a great starting point for planning your own Milford Track adventure!
For many, walking the four-day Milford Track is a once in a lifetime experience. Known as the ‘finest walk in the world’ the Milford Track traverses a remote section of…
For many, walking the four-day Milford Track is a once in a lifetime experience. Known as the ‘finest walk in the world’ the Milford Track traverses a remote section of New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park and includes such incredible sights as Sutherland Falls, Mackinnon Pass, Mackay Falls and the stunning beauty of Milford Sound. I walked the Milford Track in late October, at the very beginning of the tramping season in Fiordland. This Milford Track trip report will help prepare those interested in walking this incredible route for this 53.5 km hike.
Looking for some inspiration for your Milford Track adventure? Check out some of the incredible landscapes you’ll encounter on the ‘finest walk in the world’. Be sure to check out…
Looking for some inspiration for your Milford Track adventure? Check out some of the incredible landscapes you’ll encounter on the ‘finest walk in the world’. Be sure to check out our Guide to the Milford Track for everything you need to know to plan this epic trip!