Separation Point Walk and Seal...

Separation Point Walk and Seal Colony

Abel Tasman National Park - Totaranui to Separation Point return via Gibbs Hill


24 Rankers Reviews

24 Face-to-Face

12 Abel Tasman

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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Separation point
Stunning deserted Mutton Cove
Seal pups entertaining the guests


18.8 km return | 6 hours return

This less frequented section of the Abel Tasman Coast Track makes a perfect day walk from either Totaranui or Wainui. This is a compressed version of all that this coastline is renowned for - golden sand, lush forests, the legacy of failed farming and Maori’s first contact with Europeans.


Totaranui is an iconic beach holiday destination for New Zealanders and it packed for the summer holidays.


Totaranui is signposted from Takaka. The last 45 minutes are a twisty and turny affair on a metalled surface. It is possible in campervans, but pretty hairy.


As trampers on the popular Abel Tasman Coast Track are limited in their transport options to return to civilisation from anywhere north of Totaranui, this section receives much less visitors.

Cross the low tide estuary at the northern end of Totaranui and immediately follow the Headlands Track, pausing at the strategically placed bench looking south. In summer this coastline is studded crimson with the blossoms of rata. The regenerating tea-tree forest suggests the previous land clearance by pioneers, most notably the Gibbs family.

Anapai Beach is watched over by the Navigator at the northern end. This rock stack has curious form and a stately presence. The neat cove hidden amongst the coastal cliffs is a must to explore, before regaining the main coastal track towards Mutton Cove.

Walk the length of yet another golden sandy beach and continue to the side-track to Separation Point. This demarcates Golden Bay and Tasman Bay and is home to a resident seal colony. You can return to the main track via the Separation Point Track, which rejoins it’s parent just before Whariwharangi.

Back on the main track the section above Taupo Pa reaches a junction. Straight ahead takes you to the Wainui Road end, where you must arrange transport to pick you up.

Or returning over Gibbs Hill via the Inland Track has views of Wainui Inlet, before descending back to Totaranui.


The goldens sands which draw visitors to this coastline are sourced from a weakly-bonded metamorphosed granite of the Separation Point batholith. Even with a protective cloak of vegetation it is prone to slipping, but devoid of vegetation the intense rains form slip planes, which cause extensive slumping and sliding. Land was rendered useless and most farmers upped sticks by 1929. The whole area is still afflicted by unstable geology, storm surges and dynamic watercourses. The area took another pounding during the cyclones of 2018, so check with DoC on track closures.

Polynesian History

It is said Maui fished up the North Island (Te Ika a Maui) from near Anapai.

European History

The Gibbs’s lavish homestead at Totaranui exhibited rose fountains, hand-painted wallpaper and stained glass sash windows, before it burned down in the 1920s. The avenue of London Plane trees is a lasting reminder of their driveway, while the restored Ngarata cottage is the last echo of the farm.

The original Whariwharangi Hut building was constructed by John Handcock in 1897 and used as a farming homestead by later farmers. It was well restored in 1980 and sits a few minutes behind the beach.

It was near Whariwharangi the Dutch explorer, Abel Janszoon Tasman, had an altercation with Ngati Tumatakokiri. His two motherships, the Heemskerk and the Zeehan had a small cockboat for the officers to use as a shuttle. Due to a misunderstanding of calls on conch shells and trumpets, the Dutch misinterpreted the Maori call as a welcome, when in fact is was a call to arms. The cockboat was hijacked and four of Tasman’s crew were killed. He hightailed it out of the area and left the name Murderer’s Bay. No other European explorers made it to New Zealand for another 127 years, when Captain Cook arrived.


Feature Value Info


DOC Nelson/Tasman

Central government organisation


South IslandNelson RegionAbel Tasman


  • Walking
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 24.

Theo Macer's avatar

Theo Macer


Ranking: 10/10

Great walk, largely unpopulated, managed to go swimming on the most beautiful beach without disturbing anyone. Nothing too strenuous.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Bernd Giermann's avatar

Bernd Giermann


Ranking: 8/10

Beautiful beach, clean and not crowded.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Cazimir Boon's avatar

Cazimir Boon


Ranking: 8/10

Nice two hour walk along the most beautiful beaches of Abel Tasman. Campsites are available.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in November 2016

Maarten's avatar



Ranking: 8/10

Beautiful walk with few people around. Lots of beaches to relax. We had to swim a part of the track because of high tide.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in November 2016

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Anmaurl Platini's avatar

Anmaurl Platini

Ranking: 9/10

Very good landscape and beach too.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in October 2016

Brent Johnson's avatar

Brent Johnson

United States

Ranking: 10/10

We scored excellent weather on our walk. The beaches were truly golden and people few. Had an awesome day meandering by the sea and watching the day go by.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in October 2016

Benedikt Hang's avatar

Benedikt Hang


Ranking: 9/10

I just did some tracks, but if I had time I would do the Great Walk So many lovely beaches and beautiful places, it is just awesome!

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Anja Rakers's avatar

Anja Rakers


Ranking: 10/10

Easy walk, even the last part is not as rough as it said on the sign, you can see lovely dolphins there, nice views at Separation Point.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

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Rieke Rakers's avatar

Rieke Rakers


Ranking: 9/10

Beautiful walk along different bays and through the forest. Separation Point is good to observe seals, they are really amazing.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Olde Vogel's avatar

Olde Vogel


Ranking: 8/10

Nice view, good beach, good start for the Abel Tasman.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in November 2016

Mia Kuch's avatar

Mia Kuch


Ranking: 10/10

Day walk from Totaranui via Gibbs Hill and coast track back. Partly quite exhausting but very stunning. Separation Point is absolutely awesome.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Laura Harmon's avatar

Laura Harmon

United States

Ranking: 10/10

This is a great stretch of the track with non-stop views and less crowds than Marahau.

Reviewed about 6 years ago and experienced in February 2016

Jordan Hoy's avatar

Jordan Hoy


Ranking: 10/10

Very beautiful, thank you for telling us about it! Free!

Reviewed about 6 years ago and experienced in February 2016

DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner