History Of The Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Although named the Abel Tasman National Park, the area existed for millions of years before the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand. Plants, trees and birdlife evolved in New Zealand to form our unique native flora and fauna.

The distinctive feature of this evolution is, apart from two species of native bat, the landscape was totally devoid of mammals thus accounting for our many flightless birds.

The Maori people have been living around the Abel Tasman for around 500 years and mostly inhabited the beach areas as seasonal food gathering sites, but there were some permanent sites in Awaroa Inlet. Abel Tasman on his voyage of discovery in 1642 anchored nearby but did not set foot in the Abel Tasman area or indeed New Zealand.

As his crew were making their way to shore, their long boat was met by the local Maori people in waka (canoes) and an altercation took place, Four of Tasman’s crew were killed and the expedition left immediately following the event.

The early European exploration was carried out by a Frenchman Dumont d'Urville in 1827 and indeed accounts for many of the French names within the park today - Adele Island, Coquille Bay and Astrolabe Roadstead to name a few.

Once early European settlement began timber mills flourished in the area to the point where much of the easy timber had been taken and a growing concern about the despoliation of the landscape emerged.

One of the concerned people, Perrine Moncrieff, led the group wanting protection of this area from future timber milling and in 1942, exactly 300 years after Abel Tasman’s first European visit, the Abel Tasman National Park was formed and the coastal track developed from there.

The Abel Tasman National Park today is the smallest of New Zealand’s national parks - yet one of its most visited - and all have the highest level of protection.