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At only 22,530 hectares Abel Tasman may be New Zealand’s smallest national park but offers a varied and unique mix of coastal and forest landscapes and wildlife viewing opportunities.

The turquoise seas and crystal clear bays of the park make for excellent water based activities such as sea kayaking, or catching a water taxi to join parts of the iconic Abel Tasman Coastal Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Where these idyllic waters of Tasman Bay wash ashore on golden beaches framed by rocky granite and marble outcrops, there may be opportunities to spot fur seals, common dolphins and in the evenings see the little blue penguins coming ashore from a day of feeding.

Inland the forest offers a variety of vegetation from black beech dominating the drier ridges nearer the coast, damp gullies supporting rich native forests and the endemic hard beech enjoying the moist soils further into the forest. Birdlife found within the forest included bellbird, fantail and tūī, and nearer the coast it is common to spot pukeko (purple swamphen).

View suggested itinerary

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: New Zealand fur seal, common dolphin, little blue penguin, tūī, purple swamphen
  • Where: South Island, New Zealand

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Kiwis & Whales Galore: South Island Self-drive

This self-drive of New Zealand’s South Island showcases dramatic scenery, from sandy beaches to picturesque snow-capped mountains. Highlights include cetacean-rich Kaikoura, the Otago Peninsula - home to the endangered yellow-eyed penguin - and Stewart Island for southern brown kiwis.

  • When to go: Sep-May
  • Duration inc. flights: 23 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,395 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Meadowbank Homestead

Originally built in the 19th century, the Meadowbank Homestead has 13 tastefully furnished guest rooms with panoramic views of Abel Tasman National Park. With no road access, this rural accommodation is the perfect base for exploring the bird-rich surrounds to look for tui, little penguin and weka.

Torrent Bay Lodge

Surrounded by a stunning coastline, Torrent Bay is one of only two beachfront lodges within Abel Tasman National Park, offering 13 comfortable en suite guestrooms. With no road access, the idyllic lodge can be reached by boat, by kayak or on foot, where panoramic sea views await.