A trip to Kaiteriteri in the Abel Tasman National Park in the South Island of New Zealand is an adventure that you should not miss! If you are visiting nearby Marlborough, I highly recommend squeezing in a 2-day stint to Abel Tasman as part of your itinerary. Here, I share with you some of the best things to see and do when visiting Kaiteriteri.
(Updated June 2023)
In my blog post about New Zealand’s best wine regions, I go into depth about this fantastic wine region and briefly mention how you get to the South Island.
A little recap – there are two ferries in Wellington, Bluebridge and Interislander, which both got regular schedules. The ride takes about 3 – 4 hours and brings you right into the sleepy little town of Picton.
The cruise through the Marlborough Sounds is a highlight alone! You pass an old whaling station and if not too cold or windy, sitting on top is just a great way to soak in the scenery.
Abel Tasman Itinerary Day 1: Blenheim To Kaiteriteri
By car 2 hours 45 min – 180 km
Prior to driving towards Abel Tasman, we spent a day in Blenheim and Marlborough to sample some of the areas best wines! Nothing better than doing some vineyard hopping.
Coffee Stop in Nelson
From Blenheim, it’s roughly a 1 hour 30 drive to Nelson. You will pass through the cute little town of Havelock, which is famous for the greenlip mussles. Once in Nelson, you should so check out Pic’s Peanut Butter World! It’s free to visit but you need to register beforehand. I would have loved to go, but we didn’t know about it before…
However, Nelson makes a great stop for breakfast and coffee. Once of their best coffee shops is ZUMO Coffee House. They got a huge variety of single-origin beans, good selection of cabinet food and a relaxed atmosphere. Highly recommend!
Lunch Break In the Seaside Town Of Mapua
From there, we headed on towards the seaside town of Mapua. The pictures looked promising and it didn’t disappoint. I so wanted to try the green lip mussels, so we made a booking at the Apple Shed Kitchen & Bar. They got a lovely outside terrace with a view of the ocean. This place came highly recommended to complement our Abel Tasman itinerary and we’re so glad we went!
Explore Scenic Kaiteriteri
Kaiteriteri’s natural beauty, access to the Abel Tasman National Park, and range of outdoor activities make it a popular destination for both locals and tourists seeking relaxation, adventure, and immersion in New Zealand’s scenic wonders.
From Mapua it was only another 45 min drive to Kaiteriteri – the doorway to Abel Tasman.
The town of Kaiteriteri is a popular seaside resort town for many Kiwis in the summer. With golden beaches, waters that got that vibrant emerald colour and relaxed vibes – its easy to see why!
Also, it serves as the ideal starting point for everybody who considers going on a multi-day hike in Abel Tasman as part of their itinerary. Marahau, the main gateway of the Abel Tasman National Park, is only 15 min away.
Anyways, Kaiteriteri got lots of activities to offer. The most famous thing to do is certainly to rent a kayak and discover hidden coves. Those trips can be guided or self-led. Either way, being on the sea gives you another perspective of the areas beauty! Prices to rent a kayak start at 30 NZD.
Another very popular thing to do is going on a scenic 4-hour cruise along the coastline. They start at the Kaiteriteri Beach and take you all the way past the charming coves, the Split Apple Rock and Tonga Quarry.
You can also take the water taxis to do more of an independent trip. There are lots of different packages you can choose from. The operators drop you off at some of the beaches up north ie. Anchor Beach and you walk back towards a pick-up point. Certainly, a fun thing to do if short on time. Priced here start at 97 NZD for a full day with Sea Shuttle.
As always there are a couple of free things to do in area too!
Once we got there, we packed some beach essentials (literally those ones) and headed to Little Kaiteriteri beach. When it’s low tide you can walk straight along the beach.
From there, you can walk about to one lovely lookout point. The sound of the cicadas are just mesmerizing – hey were everywhere, sometimes even flying onto us! I had never actually seen one before, very cool.
Kaka Point Lookout
For sunset, make sure you head up to Kaka Point Lookout. It’s basically on the other side of the bay, looking onto Kaiteriteri Beach. After a lovely walk up, you again will be surrounded by the most magnificent sound of the cicadas. It always makes me feel like I am in the Mediterranean – pure summer feels!
Also, I found this place to be the most photogenic place, especially if you are after those golden hour sunset shots. It’s true, lighting is never better than just before sunset.
This place should be part of every itinerary when in Abel Tasman and the #1 place I’d go and shoot w! So gorgeous!
Abel Tasman Itinerary Day 2:
Split Apple Rock
Start your day at another of Kaiteriteri’s must-visits: the Split Apple Rock. Hearing about it beforehand and seeing the pictures I knew I HAD to go.
The legend has it that two Maori gods were fighting over the possession of a large boulder. They then used their godlike strength to break it in half to settle the matter.
In the end, it has been named the Split Apple Rock. I do like the story and it sounded better than the scientific one. Either way, it’s such a unique natural thing AND it’s located on a beach that’s ideal to visit for sunrise.
For those images, we ventured off early morning, parked the car on Tokongawa Drive. Put it into Maps.Me for the exact directions.
From there it’s a nice 15 min walk down to the beach. Once there, it was just magical – we were the only ones, the water was calm and the sunrise still in full swing. I’d so recommend coming early!
If you are adventurous and have extra time I’d recommend booking a Waka Paddling tour out to the Split Apple!
To get the famous shot, you have to time your visit with the tides. It has to be high tide in order for the lagoon to be fully there. I got up a tad too late but still got an awesome glimpse of the sunset. The sky was on fire!
From there I continued to the bridge and up the forest to change up the angle. The colour of the water is just something special, the contrast is unreal!
However, there is so much beauty around, just go off the beaten path and explore!
From Kaiteriteri it’s only a short 20 min drive to Marahau, the gateway of the Abel Tasman National Park. As we were short on time, we decided to at least squeeze in a little 1.5-hour loop walk.
From Marahau we started the Abel Tasman Coast Track, the most people continue for another 50+ kilometres. The walk is easy, passing by many beaches, lagoons and lookouts.
We ended up at Coquille Bay, admired the crazy rock formations and soaked in all the calm nature vibes. Definitely worth a stint!
Marahau is also the ideal place to take a kayak out and explore all the hidden coves with a group of like-minded travellers!
Where To Stay in Kaiteriteri
Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve
If you plan your itinerary to Abel Tasman and want to go on a public holiday I’d highly encourage you to pre-book something! As I don’t like planning, we literally called up that morning and they only had 2 spots left at the camping ground! It was that busy. With a tent in hand, we stayed at Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve and liked it lots!
They got clean facilities, a little supermarket onsite, an ice cream shop and two-three eateries nearby.
Where To Eat and Drink in Kaiteriteri
The Mermaid’s Beach House Cafe
For breakfast, you just have to go and try The Mermaid’s Beach House Cafe. They had fantastic coffee and milk options such as Macadamia or Hazelnut! Yum!? Also, their smoothie bowls were delicious and filling!
For dinner, we headed next door the Beached Whale restaurant. I wouldn’t say it was outstanding, but it was decent enough. It was really busy and to be fair, options in town are limited! For an afternoon drink with a view of the ocean, try Kai Restaurant & Bar. there is also one vegetarian place called The Views, as part of an Eco Resort.
If you have more time I’d suggest really venturing into the National Park, going on a few hikes and exploring the surroundings! Safe travels!
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