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What Is Abel Tasman National Park?

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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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Since 1942, the government of New Zealand has maintained an 87-square-mile plot of pristine land, just north of the city of Greymouth, known as Abel Tasman National Park. This land is prized for its photo-ready scenery. Jagged cliffs give way to sandy beaches. The park also has blue-water estuaries filled with sea life, especially one in particular that is completely wrapped in hilly forest. Along the shore, rock formations like the one at Anapai Bay lure the mind to the rich history of the place. Some take part in the park's Coastal Track, which is a three- to five-day hike along the park's Tasman Sea shore.

Recreation and relaxation are two sides of the same coin at Abel Tasman National Park. Hiking or canoeing can be rigorous, largely due to the mountainous terrain. This gives way to tranquil — and often desolate — beaches with water in a clear turquoise hue that makes snorkeling easy. Sea kayaking is another common diversion, through another national treasure: the Tonga Island Marine Reserve.

Plants and animals abound in the park, primarily exotic birds like tui, pukeko and bellbirds. Several inland hiking treks guide visitors through some the park's more hidden treasures. From granite outcroppings and tall ridges, cameras come out to capture the best overall views of the entire park.

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The country's smallest national park, it is also one of its most historic, named after the Dutch explorer who first "discovered" the island on these shores in 1642. Of course, for at least five centuries before aboriginal tribes had lived on this land. They put up a fight against Tasman that claimed four of his men, and it took two more centuries for Europeans to finally decide to settle here.

After Europeans finally started settling in New Zealand in 1855, persistent logging and quarrying ensued to create homes, ships and pasture land. By 1942, the central government of the island nation officially secured Abel Tasman National Park to preserve its historical and ecological significance. It happened on the 300th anniversary of Tasman's visit.

The indigenous Maori people lived in what is now Abel Tasman National Park for much longer than European settlers have — as far back 1,000 years. A fort still stands at Pitt Head to educate visitors about this highly spiritual people, who still make up about 14 percent of the country's population. At the fort, ancient food pits and terrace architecture are proudly on display.

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Sara007
Post 3

In my opinion the Abel Tasman National Park is one of the better places to view fur seals. They love playing in the waters along the coast and you can catch them sunning themselves on the rocks along the shoreline. It is an amazing place to get photos of wildlife, so if that is your thing, the park is a wonderful place to visit.

You can find plenty of hiking guides online that take you to the seal colonies and beaches made for swimming. I think the park is worth giving at least a few days to, as it really is beautiful.

lonelygod
Post 2

@letshearit - Abel Tasman National Park isn't the easiest park to reach but the color of the water makes up for the hassles. I really feel that if you want postcard perfect scenery you'll take some time and visit the park. You can also snorkel there and if you are up for the three-day hike you'll have an experience to really write home about.

To be honest though, if you are pressed for time, you could go someplace like Kaikoura which is a small mountain town that is easily accessible by bus. You can get in kayaking, whale watching and a host of other activities all while be just hours away from Wellington and Christchurch. Pretty much anywhere you go in New Zealand is postcard perfect, so don't worry about missing out on the scenery.

letshearit
Post 1

My friends and I are going to be visiting New Zealand for a few weeks and we are wondering if it worth budgeting the time to see the Abel Tasman National Park?

From what we can tell New Zealand is just filled with gorgeous scenery tip to tip and it is getting really hard to decide where to go and what to see. It looks like Abel Tasman National Park has some of the best sea kayaking in the country. While we love kayaking were not sure if we should plan our trip around it. Though the scenery is fantastic all around, we're just not sure what to do.

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