Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park is in the Nelson Bays region of the South Island of New Zealand, between Golden Bay and Tasman Bay.

Understand

Located in the Tasman District on the northern tip of the South Island. The park is closed to vehicles, and access is either on foot (from one of the various carparks mentioned below) or by boat, or if you've got money to spend it is possible to charter a helicopter or small plane (Awaroa only).

Some of the land in the park is privately owned - mainly in Awaroa Bay and Torrent Bay. It is important to remember this when visiting the park - the locals are friendly but they don't want loads of travellers walking through their backyards all the time! However these areas are clearly marked so you shouldn't have any problems.

History

Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer, was the first European to visit New Zealand, and he anchored in Golden Bay on 18 December 1642. He encountered the native Maori people there, who attacked the foreign intruders. Tasman sailed on up the west coast of the North Island, avoiding further contact with native New Zealanders.

Around 1855, more Europeans began to arrive and permanent settlements began to spring up. These settlements began to pillage the land's resources - logging for homes and ships, mining of granite, and creation of pasture through burning.

The park, created out of protest due to concerns about heavy logging in the area, was officially opened on 18 December 1942, exactly 300 years after Abel Tasman's visit. The initial grant was 15,000 hectares of government land and the park has since grown to over 22,000 hectares, though it is still New Zealand's smallest national park.

Landscape

Torrent Bay

The most notable feature of the park are its beaches. The golden sands bring many visitors, some for just a day, others for overnight trips. However, moving away from the beaches and inland, the park is mountainous and rough.

Some areas of the park are very tidal. Watch out in particular for the estuaries at Torrent Bay and Awaroa - these can drain almost completely at low tide! So be aware of this before anchoring your boat in some places. In fact, at low tide it is possible to walk from Torrent Bay to Anchorage by walking across the empty estuary - this takes about 25 minutes, whereas the track around the outside of the estuary takes closer to 2 hours. Some beaches also have unusual sand bars - if in doubt, don't go too close to shore in your boat, or you might run aground unexpectedly!

Flora and fauna

Much of the nature vegetation was destroyed by the area's early inhabitants, but the park is now slowly renewing itself. All four species of New Zealand beech trees (Nothofagus) grow in the park, an unusual find.

Wildlife consists mostly of avian life, but rare birds such as the kiwi are not present. Other wildlife, such as the blue penguin, can be found in the more isolated areas of the park now that their population have begun to dwindle. You can still see (and hear!) lots of birds - keep an eye out for wood pigeons, tuis (you will definitely hear these even if you don't see them), bellbirds, wekas (rare flightless birds), pukekos, oystercatchers (by the sea) and cormorants.

Much of New Zealand's native wildlife is under attack by introduced species and the Department of Conservation (DOC) along with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) are trying desperately to halt these attacks. Stoats, a relative of the ferret, were introduced into New Zealand to control rabbits in the 1880s. However, those stoats, then and today, prefer the native animal populations such as the blue penguins over rabbits or their other "normal" prey.

When exploring Abel Tasman or any other national park, you may see traps for introduced species such as the stoat or the possum. Please do not disturb these efforts to maintain New Zealand's natural wildlife.

Climate

The Abel Tasman National Park is in one of the sunniest places in the country with over 2000 hours of sunlight per year. There is moderate rainfall that is spread out over the year and snow is occasionally found in the park's higher elevations.

Get in

By car

There are four carpark entrances to the park. From here, you walk into the park.

By boat

Most companies depart from Marahau or Kaiteriteri going to the main beaches of the park.

Fees/permits

There are no fees to enter the park.

Get around

A Wilsons water taxi ferrying hikers into the park

See

Do

Buy

Eat

Please help to maintain the park's natural beauty - take all your rubbish out with you!

Drink

Sleep

Lodges

Huts

Camping

Stay safe

Connect

Cellphone coverage by both Telecom (XT network) and Vodafone (2 degrees, Skinny and Vodafone networks) is patchy at sea level but you can often receive texts at some high points of the coastal path and in higher reaches inland.

In Nov 2013, DoC staff installed Wi-Fi facilities at Marahau and in Anchorage Hut for the walled garden of the Project Janszoon “Virtual Visitor Centre” app to provide up-to-date information on weather, tides, points of interest, history, plants, wildlife and walking times on Android and Apple devices. The app also works offline and will update itself when in range of a hotspot. The Wi-Fi spots don't give full internet access, but you can browse the websites of:

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, November 03, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.