Abel Tasman National Park: The Complete Guide

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Today we want to share with you something special:

Explore One of The Most Beautiful and Popular National Park located in New Zealand: Abel Tasman

New Zealand's Abel Tasman National Park, atop the South Island, is one of the most accessible in the country, and the smallest. It is very popular with national and international visitors, especially in the summer, with around 300,000 visitors a year. But, if you visit outside of the high season (December to February), it is much quieter.

It is understandable why Abel Tasman is so popular: It is located in one of the sunniest parts of the country, the sea is cool and clear, and the sand on the beaches ranges from bright white to deep gold. It offers many of the things that visitors to New Zealand can experience, all in one easily accessible location.

Near the coast is the Tonga Island Marine Reserve. All marine life here is protected and fishing is not allowed. The estuaries and other waterways within the park are mostly intact, and birds are abundant, especially the native Tui and Pukeko. Abel Tasman National Park is not a pristine wilderness due to its history as a cultivated land in the 19th century, but it is in recovery and offers rich and diverse natural rewards.


As a long-standing British colony, many people wonder why New Zealand was named after a Dutch province (Zeeland, or Zeeland, is in the Netherlands). The history of Abel Tasman National Park offers some clues. In December 1642, the Dutch navigator Abel Tasman was the first European to set foot on the land that became New Zealand, when he anchored his two ships in Golden Bay, west of the park. His name appears throughout New Zealand and Australia, and especially in this region of New Zealand.

The indigenous Ngati Tumatakokiri tribe lived in the area for several hundred years, fishing, hunting in the forests, and growing kumara (sweet potatoes). European settlement began here in the 1850s, leading to deforestation, quarrying, slope clearing, and environmental degradation.

In the mid-20th century, Nelson's conservationists recognized that the area along the coast should be preserved. In 1942, 37,000 acres of crown land was turned into a national park and named after the first European to set foot here, Abel Tasman. The name was appropriate, as 1942 was the 300th anniversary of his visit. The park is now much larger, covering more than 55,000 acres.

What to Do There

Visitors to Abel Tasman can be as relaxed or active as they like. You can find a beach to rest for a day or two or embark on the famous Coast Track - a 37-mile three- to five-day hike that follows the park's rugged coastline. Somewhere in between the two, you can snorkel, take a day hike, kayak along the shoreline, bird watch, or take a scenic boat ride. Although many of these activities are best done in the warmer months, many are also possible in the winter, when the park is much less crowded. You don't want to swim in the sea (no wetsuits) in winter, but you can still enjoy beautiful walks on the beach.

How to Get There

The closest city to Abel Tasman National Park is Nelson, about an hour's drive away. From Nelson, you can organize excursions to the park or drive on your own. Follow State Highway 6 from Nelson to Richmond, then follow State Highway 60 to Motueka. The park is well signposted; look for brown road signs.

To get to Nelson from other parts of New Zealand, you can fly directly from Auckland, Wellington, or Christchurch. Alternatively, many travelers come overland, taking the Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton and driving about two hours west, along SH6, to Nelson. There are several ways to get there from the south: via Kaikoura on the east coast, Westport and Greymouth in the west, or Murchison in the south, further inland.

What to Expect

Abel Tasman is as popular as it is beautiful. If you plan to visit in the summer, it is important that you reserve accommodation, including campsites, well in advance. When doing the coastal trail be prepared for all weather conditions. Although "the top of the south" is known for its hot summers and sunny conditions throughout the year, New Zealand is a small island nation in the middle of a vast ocean; so expect rain anytime. If it doesn't rain, be prepared for the summer heat and strong sun. The atmosphere and crowds aside, Abel Tasman is impressive, and you can expect to be impressed. The i-Site tourist information centers in Nelson and Motueka can provide a wealth of information for park visitors.

What to Do Nearby

Abel Tasman National Park is in a very attractive part of the country, so there is so much to see and do within a few hours' drive of the park. Nelson is a medium-sized city by New Zealand standards, with good restaurants, markets, and cultural attractions. To the west of the park, Golden Bay is a sparsely populated area of natural beauty, and Farewell Spit is a major swamp and bird sanctuary. The mountainous Kahurangi National Park is also a great place for long jungle hikes. The Marlborough area, east of Nelson, is one of New Zealand's major wine regions.

Where to Stay

If you just want to visit the park on a day trip, Nelson and Motueka are good bases, with plenty of accommodation options for all budgets. There are also many campsites in the area with good facilities. To get closer to the park, look for accommodation in the small towns of Marahau, Kaiteriteri, or Takaka. When you go on a multi-day hike in the park, you will need to reserve a spot in advance at a Department of Conservation (DOC) camp or cabin, which can be found throughout the park.

We hope you enjoy watching this video about one of New Zealand's most visited and at the same time the smallest national park, Abel Tasman

Source: Wild Viking Travels

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