Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park lies at the north end of the South Island of New Zealand. The park was founded in 1942. With a coverage of only 225.3 km2 is the smallest of New Zealand’s national parks. The park consists of forested, hilly country to the north of the valleys of the Takaka and Riwaka Rivers, and is bounded to the north by the waters of Golden Bay and Tasman Bay. It is named after Abel Tasman, who in 1642 became the first European explorer to sight New Zealand. In 2008 an extra 7.9 km2, including the formerly private land known as Hadfields Clearing, were added to the park.

For at least 500 years Mäori lived along the Abel Tasman coast, gathering food from the sea, estuaries and forests, and growing kümara on suitable sites. Most occupation was seasonal but some sites in Awaroa estuary were permanent. The Ngati Tumatakokiri people were resident when, on 18 December 1642, the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman anchored his two ships near Wainui in Mohua (Golden Bay). He lost four crew in a skirmish with the local people and sailed away without stepping on to the land.

Later on, around 1855, European settlers began to log the forests, build ships, quarry granite and to farm in the region. For a time there was prosperity but soon the easy timber was gone and gorse and bracken invaded the hills. Little now remains of their enterprises. Concern about the prospect of more logging along the coast prompted a campaign to have 15,000 hectares of crown land made into a national park. A petition presented to the Government suggested Abel Tasman’s name for the park and it was opened in 1942 – the 300th anniversary of his visit.

The Park is renowned for its world-famous coastal walking track, its golden beaches, unmodified estuaries, sculptured granite cliffs and mild climate. It is a good place to visit at any time of year but during summer the park is particularly popular and the bays become dotted with sea kayaks, sailing boats and other water craft.

Coming expeditions that could take you there:

We have been here:

New Zealand Department of Conservation

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