To get to Totaranui, start at Takaka, and travel to Pohara, then Ligar Bay, Tata Beach, and finally Wainui Bay. On the eastern side of Wainui Bay you will find an unsealed road heading into a tree covered hillside. An approximate 10km long windy road up and then back down will lead you to Totaranui. Take care, the bends are quite sharp, and some of the locals tend to drive too fast for the conditions. Cyclists also use this road.

The Approach

Coming out of the tree-covered hillside, you will find an expanse of grass, with a spacious campsite. The Totaranui Office:

has toilets, and walking past it you will be met with this view:

A Relaxed Family Beach

Totaranui has the usual Abel Tasman National Park dark golden slightly gritty sand. The colour of the sand adds to the beauty of the place. But unlike Kaiteriteri, which can get very busy, Totaranui seems far more relaxed, probably because it's only accessible from the Golden Bay side. You can take a leisurely stroll along the beach:

Or jog to one of the many water taxis:

Or just play in the water:

Explore the Rocks and Stream

If sunbathing, walking, kayaking or swimming are not enough, then you can investigate the northern end of the bay. There you can clamber over the rocks:

Or investigate by sea with a kayak:

Or just paddle and play in the little stream:

Which has a surprising little tidal surge up and down:

Water Taxis

Totaranui is quite a busy place with water taxis. A group of people will form on the beach near the office, and sometime later a water taxi will appear, and that group will get aboard:

Then the boat will disappear out into the distance, heading for one (or more) of the many Abel Tasman National Park bays:

I did notice that passengers are given life-jackets, but the crew often do not have any.

There is quite a wide range of sizes of boats, from the one above, to this rather larger one:

Passengers for this large boat use the automated gang-way:

Then very quickly, they are away into the distance:

Yet another water taxi:


Kayaking is easy and safe, and suitable for all ages:

Bigger Boats

There is a boat ramp for those with bigger boats:

Enabling a variety of ways to enjoy the beautiful water:


Overall, a very nice spot:

The biggest negative is the access via a long unsealed road, but for a long day out, or for anyone staying there, that's a minor point.

Written on 10th February 2011 by Steve