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Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

For at least 500 years the native people of New Zealand, Maori called the Abel Tasman coastal area home. For the Maori this area was an ideal living environment, abundant in resources they were able to gather food and tools from the sea, estuaries and forests; they also practiced agriculture by growing kumara on suitable sites. Most of the Maori occupation was seasonal; they would travel to certain areas depending on the availability of food resources, but some sites, such as in the Awaroa estuaries were permanent.

The local Maori in the area when Abel Tasman arrived in 1642 were the Ngati Tumatakokiri. On 18 December, the Dutch seafarer arrived in the Golden Bay area and anchored his two ships near Wainui. During a skirmish with the local people he lost four crew members and sailed away without stepping on to the land!

Around 1855, European settlers were increasing in the area and began to quarry granite, farm, log the forests, and build ships. For a time things went well for the early settlers, but once the easy timber was gone, gorse and bracken invaded the hills making timber felling unviable. Little evidence now remains of their enterprises. 300 Years after Abel Tasman's original visit, Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand was opened in 1942.

The creation of the park had come about due to the concern that more logging along the coast would devastate the already fragile environment. This prompted a campaign to have 15,000 hectares of crown land made into a national park. Abel Tasman's name was a natural choice for the park, and today more than 200,000 visitors annually enjoy all that the area has to offer, from day walks to kayaking and yachting, there is something for everyone. Nelson makes a great base to explore Abel Tasman National Park, as it is only 75 minutes drive from accommodation in Nelson.