Visitors come to Abel Tasman National Park year-round for its comfortable climate; striking coastline; and plentiful opportunities to walk, sunbathe, kayak and sail.
Maori inhabited the park area for at least 500 years before Dutch explorer Abel Tasman anchored two ships on the coast in December 1642. After a fight with the locals, Tasman set sail, and European settlers did not arrive until 1855.
Fifteen thousand hectares, about 37,000 acres, were set aside for the park in 1942 on the 300th anniversary of Abel Tasman's visit.
Sandy beaches are abundant, interrupted by mostly granite outcrops, and the inland areas of the park are hilly. Nearby estuaries, wetlands and offshore islands are home to distinctive avian life.
Walking the park---either along the Tasman Coast Track, which extends about 32 miles, or along the hilly Inland Track---offers the best views. Visitors also can explore the bays with sea kayaks and sailboats, or they can relax on the beaches.
When walking the Coast Track, hikers usually stay in one of 18 campsites or four communal huts with bunk beds. Visitors also can stay in hotels and bed and breakfasts in nearby towns, including Takaka, Motueka and Kaiteriter.
Whiskered fur seals, native to New Zealand and Australia, live inside the park on the coast and offshore islands.
Michele Alperin is a freelance writer with more than 10 years' experience. She specializes in business, arts and Judaism, and her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including MyJewishLearning.com, "U.S.1," "Princeton Packet," "Jewish State" and "Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles." She has master's degrees in business and Jewish education.