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Abel Tasman National Park visited on our Distant Journeys New Zealand escorted tours

Abel Tasman National Park: Small but mighty

Abel Tasman National Park: Small but mighty

As part of one of our New Zealand escorted tours, you will get the opportunity to visit the city of Nelson; the oldest city on New Zealand’s South Island. Whilst in Nelson, you will have a day to explore the city and its surrounding areas, with the option of taking a tour of Abel Tasman National Park. If you were considering visiting Abel Tasman, take a look below where we have looked at some details about the National Park:


Maori had been living on the coast for many hundreds of years, where they would gather food from both the forest and the sea, as well as growing some of their own in suitable sites. Most of the Maori only lived here seasonally, but some other sites were more permanent. On the 18th December 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman landed in the nearby Golden Bay, and became the first European to visit New Zealand.

It was not until 1855 that permanent European settlements began, where settlers plundered the land of its resources, including timber from the forest, quarrying the granite and burning the vegetation to create farming land. With the prospect of more logging along the coast at the forefront of people’s minds, a campaign was started to have 15,000 hectares of land owned by the crown turned into a national park. The campaign suggest that Abel Tasman’s name should be used, and in 1942, the Abel Tasman National Park was opened, to coincide with the 300th anniversary of his visit.


At 22,530 hectares, Abel Tasman is the smallest National Park in New Zealand, but this does not mean it is any less special. The most notable features of the park are the beautiful sandy beaches which frame the coast. The granite ridges are a wonderful sight to behold, and have scatterings of limestone and marble amongst them. The vegetation in the park still reflects the history of the land being burnt, but the forests are thriving in their damp valleys, regenerating and producing a rich variety of plant life.


Possum seen roaming Abel Tasman National Park on our Distant Journeys New Zealand escorted tours

There is an abundance of wildlife that you may be lucky enough to spot on your trip to the National Park, including fur seals and dusky dolphins. Some visitors may also be lucky enough to spot some of the rarer Hector’s dolphins. Herons, terns and gulls will be seen in the skies, and penguins may also be spotted off the shore of the park. Meanwhile on land, don’t be surprised if you spot a wild goat, deer or a possum roaming about!

With many bays to enjoy the beauty of, and a number of wildlife reserves, Abel Tasman is most certainly the place to visit to admire the natural beauty of New Zealand at its finest.


Photo courtesy of brewbooks & Vicki Nunn, under Creative Commons

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