Abel Tasman National Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s massive playground. This is one of the best places to be in your (natural) element in New Zealand. Lush forests, beautiful golden-sand (almost empty) beaches and lots of activities to do and enjoy – tramping, swimming, kayaking, sailing, jet skiing, snorkeling, diving… the list goes on. There’s a very good cafe culture at the nearby town of Motueka, alongside fabulous restaurants (Thai, Indian, Malaysian, etc). Marehau, the little village minutes from the national park (a.k.a. gateway to Abel Tasman) has some accommodation choices and a few places to eat, cater water activities and water taxi companies.
The regionhas amazing accommodation options, in varying price range and style. One thing to really take note of though is to book early especially when you’re planning to visit Abel Tasman National Park (actually, any part of New Zealand). Accommodations get (fully) booked as early as April for December Holidays. Summer in New Zealand and school holidays happen to fall on December-January that’s why any holiday destination in good old Kiwiland gets fully booked quickly. So, no.1 advice, BOOK EARLY!
With ‘booking early’ already established, next thing to do is to determine your style and price range. You can go go rustic, cheap, boutique, isolated or if you pay a bit more, go luxurious. You can choose to be within the national park – lodges, holiday homes and camp sites accessible by boat or walking/tramping. We prefer to be in Marahau or Motueka. It’s always good to be within easy access to shops, supermarkets or have more choices for restaurants for lunch or dinner. Some people love the isolation and getting one with nature so they prefer walking the whole track or staying at a lodge or holiday house within the national park (can be quite pricey for water taxis in case you want to go for a meal in town)
Anyway, to help you decide, here are a few recommendations and links to some of the places we’ve personally tried and stayed at, as well as recommendations from close friends (that we are looking forward to staying at as well) We like recommending places we’ve actually stayed and got good service. P.S. Please feel free to click on the accommodation names to go to the booking link!
** Bed & Breakfast (Mid-range, $140 to $180)
This has got to be my favorite out of all the places we’ve ever stayed in in this area. It’s a a classic bed and breakfast owned by a lovely couple, Jim and Sue. Jim has Scottish ancestry and they have decorated their beautiful home to a “Scottish Theme”. We stayed at the Duncan Room (downstairs) which has access to the gardens and has an amazing claw-foot bath. (the bath sold it for me, actually!) Fraser Highlands is well located (like in the center of it all). It’s around 15 minutes drive to Motueka and Marahau. It’s also a short drive to Kaiteriteri Beach and a few bays like Stephen’s Bay.
We stayed at Fraser Highlands on the last 3 days of our trip. It was always a great coming home and relaxing. Jim and Sue’s house is beautiful, well decorated, clean and the atmosphere is very homely. They catch up with you on what your plans for the day are while serving a healthy and hearty breakfast; ask how your day was when you arrive home and they know how to give you your space and privacy. There’s also free chocolates, tea, coffee, milk and basic cutlery in the room.
If you prefer more privacy, within their property is a self-contained 1 bedroom cottage. You get the choice to have breakfast served or cook your own. There’s a washing machine, kitchen and terrace too!!
It was really a delight staying there and I can’t recommend it enough!
**Self-contained apartment (good value and convenient)
If you’re keen to be very close to Abel Tasman National Park yet still within a short drive to Marehau and Motueka, then this is one place you should consider! This is a mid-range, self contained set of apartments run by a lovely German couple. It’s far enough from the main road to be quiet and near enough the national park for convenience. (A short walk to the i-site and the beginning of the Abel Tasman National Park) There’s a stream near and lots of trees and vegetation, it gives the feeling of being in the middle of the rain forest! (I love the sound of the stream!)
They have 3 options – The Salsa Apt, Tango Apt or the Samba Studio. If you’re a family, the best choice would be the Salsa Apt. It’s got lots of space, big kitchen dining and balcony with an amazing view of the Marahau beach. For couples, it’s either Tango or Samba.
We stayed at the Samba Studio. It’s quaint and clean. There’s a wee kitchenette where we prepared our meals when we aren’t in the mood and can’t be bothered to drive to town. It’s functional and well priced, definitely a good value for money. They have board games, magazines, dvds, beach chairs and umbrellas at the reception for us to borrow. There’s a washer and dryer to use, paid with coins. Christa, our host, was very lovely and helps with every query and need.
Only comment we have is the “timed internet” – there’s specific time for internet usage, around 2 hrs in the morning and 2 hrs at night. It wasn’t that much of a big deal as we’re most of the time. Also, it was a bit noisy in our studio due to the people upstairs at the Salsa Apt. We can hear every step.
**Backpacker (fun and affordable)
I stayed at Happy Apple Backpackers on my first time visiting Abel Tasman National Park with my very good friend, Becky. It was kind of an unplanned stay at Happy Apple but it was a great blessing! It was quite a big mistake of ours to not ‘BOOK EARLY’ (though we’re aware we had to) and left it to the last minute (November!) booking accommodations for our December-January trip to Abel Tasman. Everything else was booked – hotels, motels and holiday homes / holiday houses. Though we were not keen on staying at a backpackers (not that we’re against it.. ), we have no option but to inquire and book it! (Else no where to sleep – car?!) I’ve always loved backpacking, but at that time, we’re more keen on having a more quiet and relaxed place to stay after a long day in the sun, beach and after tramping and swimming. Anyway, we were lucky to have booked a room at Happy Apple Backpackers. It’s a four-bed-all-girls dorm.
I gotta say that this place is a good find! The staff was friendly and very helpful, the beds well made and clean, the kitchen big enough and has good stuff to help prepare a simple meal. It has a hot tub (!!), big backyard to hangout and relax and clean (though shared) bathrooms. The only downside is the WiFi which isn’t free. (We actually didn’t mind as we’re within the national park most of the time where celfone coverage and signal was close to non-existent). The backpackers is located in Motueka. If you don’t have a car, there are shuttles that pick up trampers from the property.
**Holiday Home, House & Bach (best value for your money, best in privacy)
We’ve stayed at some really good holiday homes and houses (baches) around New Zealand and was really impressed. The privacy was the most impressive thing for us. We do things in our time. Properties are clean and well looked after and a lot has some really good views and some even have amazing facilities (hot tub, pool, jacuzzi, etc). Pepper and I really love staying at holiday homes as we really get the best value for our money. Also, homeowners are such lovely hosts, they go beyond customer service and make effort on making us comfortable.
**Camping (Get cozy with nature, be in your element! Best way to go if you’re an outdoor enthusiast!
There are a lot of campsites near and within the Abel Tasman National Park. For detailed information, check the Department of Conservation website). It’s a good experience camping in Abel Tasman. If you are walking the whole track, you have the opportunity to have a different site and beach as your backyard everynight! You get to wake up in the beach and watch the sunrise and sunset!
**Now here’s a bit of luxury that won’t really break the bank!
Though I haven’t actually stayed at Peppers Awaroa Lodge (I only had brunch at their beautiful cafe), it still made our list. (Not just because it’s named ‘Peppers’ hahaha ) The lodge is only accessible by boat or tramping. It’s a tranquil place that’s suited for singles, couples and families. The staff at the cafe were attentive and very welcoming to trampers who stop by the cafe to grab a bite to eat or even just to get coffee. They also let trampers use their toilets (pristine clean!!) A couple of friends who stayed there also recommended and gave great feedback about their stay! Pepper and I are planning to stay there too on our return to Abel Tasman National Park.
So, here yah go guys and gals, a wee guide on where to stay in Abel Tasman National Park. If you have recommendations, please feel free to message and inform us. We will be updating our list once we have another place that we’ve stayed at and recommend.
Lots of love and happy travels!
Tin & Pepper