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Abel Tasman National Park

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Abel Tasman National Park is in the Nelson Bays region of the South Island of New Zealand, between Golden Bay and Tasman Bay.

Understand[edit]

Located in the Tasman District on the northern tip of the South Island. The park is closed to vehicles, and access is either on foot (from one of the various carparks mentioned below) or by boat, or if you've got money to spend it is possible to charter a helicopter or small plane (Awaroa only).

Some of the land in the park is privately owned - mainly in Awaroa Bay and Torrent Bay. It is important to remember this when visiting the park - the locals are friendly but they don't want loads of travellers walking through their backyards all the time! However these areas are clearly marked so you shouldn't have any problems.

History[edit]

Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer, was the first European to visit New Zealand, and he anchored in Golden Bay on 18 December 1642. He encountered the native Maori people there, who attacked the foreign intruders. Tasman sailed on up the west coast of the North Island, avoiding further contact with native New Zealanders.

Around 1855, more Europeans began to arrive and permanent settlements began to spring up. These settlements began to pillage the land's resources - logging for homes and ships, mining of granite, and creation of pasture through burning.

The park, created out of protest due to concerns about heavy logging in the area, was officially opened on 18 December 1942, exactly 300 years after Abel Tasman's visit. The initial grant was 15,000 hectares of government land and the park has since grown to over 22,000 hectares, though it is still New Zealand's smallest national park.

Landscape[edit]

Torrent Bay

The most notable feature of the park are its beaches. The golden sands bring many visitors, some for just a day, others for overnight trips. However, moving away from the beaches and inland, the park is mountainous and rough.

Some areas of the park are very tidal. Watch out in particular for the estuaries at Torrent Bay and Awaroa - these can drain almost completely at low tide! So be aware of this before anchoring your boat in some places. In fact, at low tide it is possible to walk from Torrent Bay to Anchorage by walking across the empty estuary - this takes about 25 minutes, whereas the track around the outside of the estuary takes closer to 2 hours. Some beaches also have unusual sand bars - if in doubt, don't go too close to shore in your boat, or you might run aground unexpectedly!

Flora and fauna[edit]

Much of the nature vegetation was destroyed by the area's early inhabitants, but the park is now slowly renewing itself. All four species of New Zealand beech trees (Nothofagus) grow in the park, an unusual find.

Wildlife consists mostly of avian life, but rare birds such as the kiwi are not present. Other wildlife, such as the blue penguin, can be found in the more isolated areas of the park now that their population have begun to dwindle. You can still see (and hear!) lots of birds - keep an eye out for wood pigeons, tuis (you will definitely hear these even if you don't see them), bellbirds, wekas (rare flightless birds), pukekos, oystercatchers (by the sea) and cormorants.

Much of New Zealand's native wildlife is under attack by introduced species and the Department of Conservation (DOC) along with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) are trying desperately to halt these attacks. Stoats, a relative of the ferret, were introduced into New Zealand to control rabbits in the 1880s. However, those stoats, then and today, prefer the native animal populations such as the blue penguins over rabbits or their other "normal" prey.

When exploring Abel Tasman or any other national park, you may see traps for introduced species such as the stoat or the possum. Please do not disturb these efforts to maintain New Zealand's natural wildlife.

Climate[edit]

The Abel Tasman National Park is in one of the sunniest places in the country with over 2000 hours of sunlight per year. There is moderate rainfall that is spread out over the year and snow is occasionally found in the park's higher elevations.

  • Average temperatures
    • Summer, December - February. High: 72F, 22C. Low: 55F, 13C.
    • Fall, March - May. High: 64F, 18C. Low: 46F, 8C.
    • Winter, June - August. High: 55F, 13C. Low: 37F, 3C.
    • Spring, September - November. High: 63F, 17C. Low: 45F, 7C.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

There are four carpark entrances to the park. From here, you walk into the park.

  • Marahau. The southern entrance, 67 km on a sealed road from Nelson.
  • Wainui. 21 km from Takaka. The road is sealed for all but the final 2 km.
  • Totaranui. 32 km from Takaka. The road is sealed for all but the final 13 km.
  • Awaroa. 31 km from Takaka. The road is sealed for all but the rough, final 12 km. This road has two fords which are susceptible to flooding.

By boat[edit]

Most companies depart from Marahau or Kaiteriteri going to the main beaches of the park.

  • Wilsons Abel Tasman, +64 3 528 2027, toll-free 0800 223 582. Either Vista Cruise – comfort, speed, environmentally friendly – or Vigour Water Taxi – the adventurer's choice.
  • Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi. Sailing from Marahau for $25 to $50.

Fees/permits[edit]

There are no fees to enter the park.

Get around[edit]

A Wilsons water taxi ferrying hikers into the park
  • Wilsons Abel Tasman, +64 3 528-2027, toll-free 0800 223 582.
    • Water transfers in style and comfort
    • Cruise & Walk (guided / unguided)
    • Guided Kayak & Walk
  • Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi. Hut-to-hut pack transfers for $8-12 depending on weight.

See[edit]

  • Seals. Fur seals can be seen in a number of places in the park and there is a large colony at Tonga Island. Do not get closer than 20 metres of the seals.
  • Tonga Island Marine Reserve.
    • Approach on foot. Start from Awaroa Hut toward Venture Creek and then over Tonga Saddle to Onetahuti Beach. If coming from the carpark at Tonga Quarry, a low tide crossing is required.
    • Approach by sea. The nearest boat ramp is at Totaranui and caution should be used due to unmarked reefs as well as strong winds.
    • By bus or hired boat. Consult the visitor centers in Motueka, Takaka, or Nelson.
  • Cleopatra's Pool. This is a beautiful rock pool with a natural, moss-lined waterslide! It is located about 1 hour's walk from both Torrent Bay and Anchorage. If you follow the high tide track between these two places, you will eventually reach the turn-off to Cleopatra's. A couple of things to be aware of - firstly, the track to the pool crosses the river (there's no bridge, you have to hop across a few rocks), so if it has been raining over the last couple of days, it can be quite dangerous to cross. Secondly, the bottom of the 'waterslide' sometimes has a few hidden rocks - check it and clear away any big rocks before using the slide.
  • Falls River bridge. An impressive footbridge which crosses the Falls River. It is located on the track between Bark Bay and Torrent Bay.
  • Cascade Falls. A beautiful waterfall hidden in among stunning bush. The river, while cold, is also a good spot to cool off. Cascade Falls is located about 1.5 hours walk from Torrent Bay. This is one of the more difficult tracks as it is quite steep in parts, but it is definitely worth the hike! Set out from Torrent Bay on the High Tide track to Anchorage and follow the signs - the turnoff to Cascade Falls is approximately 15 minutes from the Torrent Bay campsite.

Do[edit]

  • Abel Tasman Coast Track. A 51 km walking track that is one of the Department of Conservation's Great Walks. Plan on 3 to 5 days to walk the entire track. There are several crossing that are dependent on the tide.
  • Abel Tasman Inland Track. An easy to moderate 3 to 5 days through the park's hilly interior.
  • Hunting. This is allowed in 2 sections of the park, by permit only, most of the year, but not from the 3rd Mon in Dec until 6 Feb (Waitangi Day). Check local papers for specific dates. An additional permit is required to bring a hunting dog. The game is red deer, feral pigs and feral goats.
  • Mountain biking. This is permitted at two places. A section of the Moa Park Track can be used year-round. The Gibbs Hill Track can be used between 1 May and 1 Oct.
  • Swim. The beaches are safe – the surf is minimal and there is little risk of riptides. The water is warm in summer. Some of the more tidal beaches are shallow just before and after high tide, so are great for young children.
  • Wilsons Abel Tasman kayaking, +64 3 528-2027, toll-free: 0800 223-528. Guided sea kayak tours from half day to 5 days. Can be combined with guided walking tours. The longer tours are catered. $80 (half day) to $2,240 (5 day kayak & walk).
  • No horse riding. This is not allowed in the park.

Buy[edit]

  • There is nothing to buy anywhere inside the park.

Eat[edit]

  • All food must be carried into the park. There are no shops at which to purchase food or supplies. However, there is a cafe at Awaroa Lodge in Awaroa Bay. You don't have to be a guest at the lodge in order to eat here. Bear in mind that it is definitely not cheap, compared with similar style cafes outside of the Park.

Please help to maintain the park's natural beauty - take all your rubbish out with you!

Drink[edit]

  • Potable water is usually provided at the huts, but be prepared to treat drinking water through boiling, chemical, or filtering.
  • As always, be sure to consume plenty of water during your hike, whether overnight or just for the day.

Sleep[edit]

Lodges[edit]

Huts[edit]

  • Department of Conservation huts. Four on the Coast track, and another four on the Inland track. All have heating, mattresses, flush toilets and washbasins with cold water. There are no cooking facilities or lighting. Two nights maximum stay in each.
    • Coast Track, +64 3 546-9339, toll-free: +64 800 422 358. Booking required. Backcountry hut tickets or passes are not valid for the Coast Track. $32 per night (under 18s free, but booking required).
      • Anchorage Hut. 34 bunks.
      • Bark Bay Hut. 28 bunks.
      • Awaroa Hut. 22 bunks.
      • Whariwharangi Hut. 19 bunks.
    • Inland Track. $5 per night.
      • Awapoto Hut. 12 bunks.
      • Castle Rock Hut. 8 bunks.
      • Moa Park Hut. 4 bunks.
      • Wainui Hut. 4 bunks.

Camping[edit]

  • Totaranui Campground. Camp office, potable water, flush toilets, cold showers, fireplaces and car parking, but no electricity. Totaranui is split into two sections:
    • Coast Track Campground. This section of Totaranui is used by trampers on the Coast Track and is limited to one night. Bookings are required year round.
    • Main Campground. An extremely popular 850 site campground at Totaranui. A ballot system is in place for bookings between December 1 and February 10. Stays longer than one night are allowed.
  • Other DoC campsites. All sites have water supply (mostly untreated) and toilets. Some have cooking shelters and fireplaces. Bookings are required year round. Campers do not have permission to use hut facilities. Camping limited to two consecutive nights at any given campsite. $14 (under 18s free, but booking required).
    • Apple Tree Bay. 15 tent spaces.
    • Stilwell Bay. 3 tent spaces.
    • Akersten Bay. 3 tent spaces.
    • Observation Beach. 6 tent spaces.
    • Watering Cove. 5 tent spaces.
    • Te Pukatea Bay. 7 tent spaces.
    • Anchorage. 50 tent spaces.
    • Torrent Bay Estuary. 6 tent spaces.
    • Torrent Bay Village. 10 tent spaces.
    • Medlands Beach. 5 tent spaces.
    • Bark Bay. 40 tent spaces.
    • Mosquito Bay. 20 tent spaces.
    • Tonga Quarry. 10 tent spaces.
    • Onetahuti Bay. 20 tent spaces.
    • Awaroa. 18 tent spaces.
    • Waiharakeke Bay. 10 tent spaces.
    • Anapai Bay. 6 tent spaces.
    • Mutton Cove. 20 tent spaces.
    • Whariwharangi Bay. 20 tent spaces.
  • Backcountry campsites. Expect to pay about $7 per night. Adhere to standard leave-no-trace camping and hiking. Do not stray from the beaten path as this practice causes permanent damage to the landscape. Be sure to carry out all trash and pick up after others.

Stay safe[edit]

  • Safety is your responsibility - always let someone know before you head into the backcountry. Leave your intentions with a local DoC office.
  • Be prepared. Check the weather and consider your equipment. On the coast track be sure to consider the tide schedule before starting - there are two crossing that must be made during low tide.
    • Insect repellent. Sandflies (small biting insects) tend to be very bothersome.
    • Sunscreen. The sun can be very powerful.
    • Spare food and fuel. Always be prepared to stay an extra day or two.

Connect[edit]

Cellphone coverage by both Telecom (XT network) and Vodafone (2 degrees, Skinny and Vodafone networks) is patchy at sea level but you can often receive texts at some high points of the coastal path and in higher reaches inland.

In Nov 2013, DoC staff installed Wi-Fi facilities at Marahau and in Anchorage Hut for the walled garden of the Project Janszoon “Virtual Visitor Centre” app to provide up-to-date information on weather, tides, points of interest, history, plants, wildlife and walking times on Android and Apple devices. The app also works offline and will update itself when in range of a hotspot. The Wi-Fi spots don't give full internet access, but you can browse the websites of:

  • Project Janszoon
  • Department of Conservation
  • Metservice
  • Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust (listen to a live link of birdsong from Adele Island)
  • E-Bird and
  • NZ Birds Online

Go next[edit]

This park travel guide to Abel Tasman National Park is a usable article. It has information about the park, for getting in, about a few attractions, and about accommodations in the park. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.