For backpackers making their way around New Zealand, the Abel Tasman National Park has become a destination not to be missed. You know a destination is definitely popular when the backpacker buses start heading there and so here is a guide to Abel Tasman National Park found near Nelson.
Abel Tasman National Park can be found at the top of New Zealand's South Island, in the Nelson region, and acquired it's name thanks to Mr Abel Tasman who was the first European to sight New Zealand in 1642. However, it wasn't until three centuries later when the Abel Tasman National park was established.
Although Abel Tasman is New Zealand's smallest national park you still get 22,530 hectares of original New Zealand beauty. With the parks location on the Tasman Bay visitors can get their fix of golden sand beaches and stunning coastline. If you turn your back on the water you are faced with a unique mix of undisturbed forest and regenerating forest. The area has a history of fires and land clearance so part of the Abel Tasman National Park is still re-establishing itself.
Accommodation in the Abel Tasman National Park is reflective of the area in which it lies. The park itself has 8 rustic huts that visitors can stay in ranging from 4 bunk huts to 34 bunk huts. Probably the best way to stay in the park is to camp and with 20 campsites you can have your pick of the best especially when campsites are next to golden sandy beaches. It is important to pre-book any accommodation within the national park so you don't get disappointed. There are also hostels and budget motels available in towns and villages near to the park, especially at the village of Marahau, the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. We recommend Kaiteri Lodge.
There is plenty to do and see once you are within the realms of the park. Walking and Hiking is a popular activity with one of New Zealand's Great Walks within the park itself. The Abel Tasman Coast Track is a 3-5 day walk along the coast, so fairly flat and easy going, especially with the sea breeze. For a more energetic climb try the Inland Track which takes you through the undisturbed forest for 3 days. This hike is more rollercoaster style up and town but with the highs you get panoramic views of the parks islands, the Tasman Bay and Marahau. This is a great walk for bird watchers.
Sea Kayaking is one of the top attractions at Abel Tasman National Park with a beautiful bay to paddle your way around as well as a long stretch of coastland. It is even possible to kayak your way out to two of the park's Islands, Adele and Fisherman Island. Adele Island is great for bird spotting whilst Fisherman Island offers secluded beaches. There is no accommodation on these islands and you need to inform in advance if you want to go as the park is trying to prevent foreign disease from infecting the islands. Also nearby is Tonga Island which is the home of a seal breeding colony. There is no public access to Tonga Island but it still looks impressive when you're paddling in your kayak.
Mountain Biking is the other active pursuit the Abel Tasman National Park has to offer. The main track is the Moa Park Track but the park is trialing a new track starting this year (for two years) at Gibbs Hill Track. It this track is something you want to try out you need to visit the park between 1st May and 1st October.
The newest activity to hit the Abel Tasman National Park is the Abel Tasman Skydive. An obligatory activity for backpackers in New Zealand this skydive gives you views of golden coastline, the Tasman Bay and islands as well as vast forest. Not a bad view really when you are looking down on the world, in fact it's in our Top Ten of places to skydive in NZ and Australia.
There are plenty of ways to get to the park whether on a tour, backpacker bus or just by visiting the nearby village, Marahau or town of Motueka. So there is no reason why you should miss out visiting the incredible scenery the Abel Tasman National Park has to offer.