Golden sand beaches, turquoise bays, yellow kayaks. We’re all familiar with the tourist-friendly image of Abel Tasman National Park: Nelson playground, the jewel in the region’s crown, the country’s most-visited and smallest national park.
In truth, that series of beaches is not even part of the park: the narrow strip of land that runs between the mean high water mark and mean low water springs forms the Abel Tasman Foreshore Scenic Reserve, which is administered jointly by the Tasman District Council and the Department of Conservation.
Ninety-nine per cent of visitors to the park stick to this sandy strip, with just 1 per cent walking the inland track.
The other common misconception about the park is that it is a slice of pure New Zealand – that, like many of our other national parks, it is a strictly conserved remnant of pre-European settlement native bush.