Abel Tasman National Park Information
Some background on the National Park, administered and maintained by Department of Conservation (DOC).
The world-famous Abel Tasman Coast Track is administered and maintained to high standard as one of New Zealand’s Great Walks by the Department of Conservation (DOC). It is known mainly for the Tasman Bay section running 38 km from Marahau in the South, to Totaranui in the North.
The entire Coast Track continues a further 13 kms North into the Wainui Inlet, Golden Bay. For a full map refer to the DOC website:
The Abel Tasman Inland Track runs for 38 kms through the hilly centre of the Park. It is more arduous with fewer facilities than the Coast Track.
Wilsons Abel Tasman has concessions to host visitors in the National Park. We have freehold title on land where our Lodges are located within the boundaries of the Park.
Abel Tasman National Park – a Park for all Seasons
At 22,530 hectares, Abel Tasman is New Zealand's smallest national park. It is renowned for its forest-fringed, golden beaches, calm azure waters, sculpted granite headlands and islands. Two tracks, one inland and one coastal, run through the Park.
It has a mild climate that is comfortable year-round. Average daily temperatures vary by only 10 degrees C and rain is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. Most native trees are evergreens, so the forest is green and vibrant through all seasons.
Max. Temps (C/F)
Min. Temps (C/F)
Abel Tasman National Park is located at the top of New Zealand’s South Island.
The nearest towns are Motueka, Takaka and Kaiteriteri. Roads lead to Marahau and Totaranui at either end of the Coast Track (1.5 and 2.5 hours from Nelson) and provide access to the track system. There is restricted road access (4WD drive only) to the Awaroa Inlet from Takaka. There are regular and on-demand bus services to the park from local towns and from Nelson. Launch and water taxi services run between Kaiteriteri and Totaranui.
More Maps and Directions here.
For at least 500 years Maori lived along the Abel Tasman coast, gathering food from the sea, estuaries and forests, and growing kumera 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), the first European to visit Aotearoa - New Zealand. He lost four crew in a skirmish with the local people and soon moved on.
French explorer, Dumont D’Urville, provided reliable maps of the Abel Tasman coast in 1827. His interactions with local Maori were friendly and productive. In the 1830s the Maori tribes of Te Tau Ihu (top of the South Island) were decimated by warring tribes from the North Island. More history here.
Permanent European settlement began around 1855. The settlers logged forests, built ships, quarried granite and fired the hillsides to create pasture. 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, led by local Naturalist Perrine Moncrieff, 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 duly opened in 1942 - the 300th anniversary of his visit. Lease-hold land within the park was reclaimed by the Government but owners of Freehold title were not obligated to sell their land. Therefore, small pockets of privately owned land remain with the boundaries of the National Park.
The most noticeable features of this park are the golden sandy beaches, the fascinating rocky outcrops (mainly granite but with a scattering of limestone and marble) and the rich, unmodified estuaries. The landscape has been modified, perhaps more than in our other national parks but there are large sections of mature, unmodified forest displaying the diverse vegetation typical of the top of the South Island, including many North Island species.
Common trees include Kanuka and Manuka tea trees, forming nursery forests on regenerating land and dry exposed ridges. Southern Beech trees (genus Nothofagus) are the main large forest tree, Black Beech in drier areas and Hard Beech in damp, protected gullies. The black colour of the Beech tree trunk is caused by a sooty fungus growing on honeydew secreted by an insect living in the bark. Most common native pine trees are Rimu and Kahikatea with some Matai and Totara.
The more common forest birds, like tui and bellbirds, can be seen along with pukeko around the estuaries and wetlands. The park's boundary excludes the estuaries and seabed. In 1993 the Tonga Island Marine Reserve was created along one part of the Abel Tasman coast. Like a national park, all life in the reserve is protected. The Abel Tasman Foreshore Reserve, set up in 2007 and jointly administered by DoC and Tasman District Council, protects the beaches and estuaries of the Park.
Where to stay
Backpacker accommodation, motels and lodges are available in the towns near the Park. Within the Park boundaries, Awaroa Lodge operates hotel-style accommodation, and Wilsons Abel Tasman operate the only two private beachfront lodges, Torrent Bay Lodge and Meadowbank Homestead - Awaroa. If visitors choose not to stay in private accommodations, they can stay overnight in DoC huts and campsites: 4 huts along the Coast Track, 4 huts Inland and 20 campsites throughout the Park with a water supply and toilets. All Coast Track huts and campsites must be booked all year round before travelling into the Park. For locations and facilities see the DOC website