Located in the northern portion of South Island, Abel Tasman National Park is one of the smallest national parks in the country and home to numerous picturesque beaches. The park is surrounded by stunning bays with golden-sand beaches and rich rainforest backdrops. The beaches all offer something unique, from native seal colonies to coastal birdlife to quiet lagoons. Whether you want to spend time in the water with the family, give the kids a first swim lesson, explore the rainforest or enjoy a thrilling sea kayaking excursion, you could find it at Abel Tasman beaches. Find out more about the best Abel Tasman beach destinations.
Torrent Bay for watersports
Found within Abel Tasman National Park, Torrent Bay has 2 beaches on a curving lagoon and bay. The bay is ideal for water sports, while families with small children can enjoy the calm, sheltered waters of the lagoon. Both beaches are equally beautiful and have plenty of soft sand for sunbathing and beach games. The rainforest rests against the beach and offers opportunities for treks, birdwatching and wildlife sightings.
Bark Bay for lagoon swimming
Located on the edge of the Tonga Beach Marine Reserve in the national park, Bark Bay is bathed in nearly year-round sunshine and boasts a large lagoon with calm waters. Children can swim and play safely in the gentle, shallow lagoon water or play on the sand. The beach also has a tidal estuary with a walk to Bark Bay Falls, a stunning waterfall beneath the rainforest canopy. Birdwatchers flock to Bark Bay to spot the elusive kaka, a native parrot with vibrant colours.
Onetahuti Beach for marine exploration
Onetahuti Beach is a long, narrow beach with crystal-clear waters, backed by dense vegetation. The beach is across from Tonga Island and a marine reserve, which is home to a variety of incredible sea life. The only ways to reach the beach are by boat or footpath, giving it a quieter and more secluded atmosphere. If you want to spend some time enjoying the water and taking in the sunsets and sunrises, you can camp out overnight at the nearby campsite.
Kaiteriteri Beach for young swimmers
The curving coast of Kaiteriteri Beach is surrounded by promontories covered in thick trees, giving it shelter from the winds and calm waves. The gentle surf is ideal for young swimmers and calmer sports like paddling, kayaking and snorkelling, making it a popular spot for families. You’ll also find accommodation nearby and family-friendly amenities, such as a playground, grill areas, mini-golf and more. If you want more adventure, tour operators in the area offer boat trips, kayak trips and bike trips through the rainforest.
Totaranui Beach for family adventure
Totaranui Beach is found on the edge of the national park and features golden sand and turquoise waters. The spot is popular for families with children, thanks to the quiet tidal inlet that lets children swim and wade in shallow waters. Adventurers also enjoy kayaking, fishing and boating on Totaranui Beach, as well as treks through the lush rainforest that surrounds the beach. You’ll find several footpaths through the rainforest to get the most out of the experience.
Awaroa Inlet for family fun
Boasting shallow, calm waters in an estuary and soft sand, Awaroa Inlet is the ideal place for a family beach trip or relaxing romantic stay. Nestled in the national park, Awaroa Inlet is only accessible by boat or by foot, so the beach doesn’t draw large crowds. Along with sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling and boating, Awaroa Inlet is a popular birdwatching spot and provides a habitat for a variety of coastal bird species. For dining and sightseeing, you can visit the nearby town of Takaka.
Mutton Cove for wildlife encounters
Accessible by kayak or by footpath, Mutton Cove is a secluded beach area with a small campsite and a calm bay for swimming. One of its most unique features is the seal colony that lives nearby, which you can see during your beach day. If you want to take in the scenery and enjoy wildlife sightings and views on the way to the beach, the best route to take is the Abel Tasman Coast Track.