The 6 Best Abel Tasman Beaches

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Set in the far north of the South Island, Abel Tasman is the smallest national park in New Zealand. But small is beautiful and this certainly holds true for this beach-lover's paradise. Abel Tasman is not a single beach but a number of beautiful bays, all of which feature pristine, golden sand and forest backdrops. Now I could have probably picked most of New Zealand's best beaches from Abel Tasman alone, but that seemed a little unfair on the rest of the country. The only possible downside is that whilst the national park is heaven for nature lovers it isn't the most accessible of places, with many beaches only reachable by trail or kayak.

Kaiteriteri Beach is often cited as the finest of Abel Tasman's beaches with its uniquely golden sand formed from crystals of quartz and mica washed from the native granite. Totaranui is another great beach, with its 1 km stretch of sand and relatively easy access it is one of the park's most popular. Also worthy of mention is the horseshoe shaped Onetahuti (Tonga) beach with its fur seal colony just offshore.

  • 1. Torrent Bay

    Torrent Bay

    Set within the Abel Tasman National Park, Rākauroa / Torrent Bay consists of not one, but two sandy beaches. The main beach is a curving spit of sand which goes some way to separating a large lagoon from the sea. However, there is also a beach on the lagoon side of Torrent Bay.

    Torrent Bay is a lovely spot, backed by the lush, forested landscape of Abel Tasman. If it… read more »

  • 2. Awaroa Inlet

    Awaroa Inlet
    John M

    Located within the protected confines of the South Island's Abel Tasman National Park, Awaroa Beach curves magnificently around the mesmerising shallows of an atoll-like estuary. Meandering its way for 800 metres in length, it has been nicknamed "The People's Beach" since it was purchased by New Zealanders from a private owner after a crowdfunding campaign that received the support of some 40,000 people.

    A journey here is made all the more… read more »

  • 3. Onetahuti

    Andrea Schaffer

    Onetahuti Beach is a long, thin ribbon of white sand separating protected crystalline waters from thick woodland. Facing the stunning Tonga Island, Onetahuti Beach lies within its marine reserve, ensuring a plethora of life beneath the waves.

    There's no vehicular access to the beach, giving it an even more tranquil setting, but meaning visitors intent on reaching Onetahuti must do so either on foot or via boat. At the northern end… read more »

  • 4. Kaiteriteri Beach

    Kaiteriteri Beach
    Jonathan Reid
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    One of South Island's best beaches, Kaiteriteri Beach stuns even hardened travellers with its combination of orange-yellow sand, curving crescent shape, and surrounding tree-clad promontories.

    Just 15 minutes from Motueka, its usually extremely calm waters act as a gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, with boats, water taxis and even sea kayaking outfits all providing the means for visitors to explore this national treasure for themselves.

    As a result, Kaiteriteri has accommodation… read more »

  • 5. Totaranui Beach

    Totaranui Beach
    © Krzysztof Golik / CC BY

    Located at the northern end of Abel Tasman National Park, Totaranui Beach seems to appear out of nowhere, its recess of rich golden sand set among sea (or more correctly, ocean) blues and dense native foliage. Indeed, the name Totaranui translates as "many trees".

    An ideal destination for hiking, kayaking, fishing, and swimming, this one kilometre stretch of paradise boasts a series of footpaths that wind their way through the best… read more »

  • 6. Bark Bay

    Bark Bay
    Akos Kokai
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Sitting on the border of Tonga Beach Marine Reserve within Abel Tasman National Park, Bark Bay (also called Wairima) is known for the reliability of its weather, offering sunshine pretty much all year round.

    While that may be enough to lure sunseekers to this first-rate stretch of sand, others will be tempted by the large lagoon that offers the opportunity for safe swimming, or the chance to catch a glimpse… read more »