Abel Tasman Park is a New Zealand national park located between Golden Bay and Tasman Bay at the north end of the South Island. It is named after Abel Tasman, who in 1642 became the first European explorer to sight New Zealand and who anchored nearby in Golden Bay.
Located in the Nelson Region on the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island. The park is closed to vehicles, and access is either on foot 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 travelers walking through their backyards all the time! However, these areas are clearly marked so you shouldn’t have any problems.
The most notable features 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.
History of Abel Tasman Park
The first European to visit the area around Golden Bay was Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer, on December 18, 1642. There he met a settlement of Maori, the native peoples, briefly fought with them and left.
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 in 1942, 300 years after Abel Tasman’s first visit. The initial grant was 15,000 hectares of government land and has since grown to over 22,000 hectares. It is, however, New Zealand’s smallest national park.