Totaranui Abel Tasman is the only part of the national park accessible by road, and therefore the only place accessible to campers. The drive to the DOC campsite is windy and gravelly, one which I’m eternally grateful the ’88 Nissan Bluebird didn’t break down on. The higher you climb, the more spectacular the view. Abel Tasman is the smallest of New Zealand’s National parks but it is arguably the most beautiful. When you notice a sign that reads ‘lookout’ and there will be many, stop the car and get out. Because the views of this park are among the best I’ve seen in New Zealand.
Totaranui Camping, Abel Tasman National Park
DOC campsites around New Zealand are usually around $6 per night, but the site is at $15 per night.The amenities on site are far superior to the rudimentary facilities you will find elsewhere, which is likely the reason for the inflated price. Not only are the amenities better, with a telephone, small shop, office and hot showers, the Totaranui camping location is a million miles away from a well groomed field in the middle of nowhere I grew to expect from DOC. Just a step and a jump from your tent will take you to Totaranui beach.
We came in mid-december, evading the huge crowds who swarm here in late summer. It was hot enough to sunbathe at this time, but do remember to coat yourself in bug spray as well as sun lotion as pesky sand-flies do abound.
The view at Hawke’s lookout
Other Things to Do in Totaranui, Abel Tasman National Park
Doing nothing in Totaranui was one my personal favourites, but if you are somewhat more adventurous/ less of a sloth than I am, I hear it’s a great place for kayaking. Day tours in Abel Tasman National Park are great, and will take you to the best spots like Split Apple Rock.
If you want to see travel the length and breath of the coastal track, you can do so on foot. It’s 51 km in total and most people walk the Abel Tasman Track over a few days, stopping intermittently along the way.
The cruises give you an option to stop off at one of the beautiful beaches, have yourself a picnic and catch a return sea shuttle later in the day. Walk across Falls River Bridge (47m high) and take in the views at Cascade falls. If you’re itching for a swim, make your way to Cleopatra’s pool. If it’s wildlife you’re after, you can view the seals at Tonga Island Marine Reserve but if you want to get a little closer to the sealife, there are scuba diving options for all abilities.