Named after the first European to sight New Zealand, Abel Tasman National Park is 170 mi/280 km northwest of Christchurch. Its location on the South Island has a beautiful rocky coastline edged by rain forest and offers many opportunities for hiking, sea kayaking, boating and simply relaxing on the beach. Inland are caves and Maori rock carvings. Nelson is a good base for visiting the park.
Local companies offer day trips in the park and on the water, as well as shuttle service to Marahau, where the Abel Tasman Coast Track begins. Marahau is also a good place to rent sea kayaks. All kinds of birds (including penguins), dolphins and seals can usually be seen in and around Tasman Bay. You can also visit Tonga Island's marine reserve and seal colony.
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