ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK
More than 170,000 visitors a year come to appreciate the Abel Tasman's rolling hills of native bush; its granite, limestone and marble outcrops; its clear, azure waters; and its 91 km (56 miles) of coastline indented with more than 50 sandy beaches. Birds such as tuis and bell birds inhabit lush pockets of forest, and pukekos feed in the wetlands-outside the park's boundaries, these are protected as the Tonga Island Marine Reserve.
Walkers come to enjoy the world-famous Coastal Walkway, sea kayakers to make the most of an internationally renowned venue. On an average summer's day the park attracts up to 4,000 people, and you must reserve well in advance for all places to stay and most activities.
Maori communities lived along this coast for at least five centuries, and in 1642 the Ngati Tumatakokiri people saw off the first European visitors-part of Dutch explorer Abel Tasman's crew. From 1855 European settlement got undervvay, which meant the clearing of forests and quarrying of granite. Fears that logging would strip the coast of its vegetation led to a campaign for the protection of this stretch of shoreline, and in I 942-largely as a consequence of the tireless efforts of conservationist and resident Perrine Moncrieff-the national park was opened. Many place-names within the park are associated with explorations by the French explorer Jules Sebastien Cesar Dumont d'Urvilie.