The Tasman Region borders the West Coast, Marlborough and Nelson regions. It is both a region and a unitary authority, and the District Council sits at Richmond, with Community Boards serving outlying communities in Motueka and Golden Bay. Tasman Bay, the largest indentation in the north coast of the South Island, was named after Abel Tasman, the first reported European discoverer of New Zealand. It passed the name on to the adjoining district formed in 1989, largely from the merger of Waimea and Golden Bay counties. Tasman District is a large area at the top western side of the South Island. It covers 9,786 square kilometres and is bounded to the west by the Matiri Ranges, the Tasman Mountains and the Tasman Sea. To the north,Tasman and Golden bays form its seaward edge and the eastern boundary extends to the edge of Nelson city and includes part of the Spencer Mountains and the Saint Arnaud and Richmond ranges.
The Victoria Ranges form Tasman's southern boundary and the district's highest point is Mt Owen, at 1,875 metres. The landscape is diverse. From large mountainous areas to valleys and plains, sliced by such major rivers as the Bullerr, Motueka, Aorere, Takaka and Wairoa rivers. There's lush bush and bird life, golden beaches, the unique 40-kilometre sands of Farewell Spit, and boundless fishing in the bays and rivers. These assets make the district wonderfully diverse to tourists.
Employment in the Tasman region includes forestry; wood and paper product manufacturing; hospitality, which includes work in accommodation, cafes and restaurants; building and construction; agriculture; and food and beverage manufacturing (including seafood and aquaculture processing). These industries employ around 15,000 people (around 40% of all people working in the region). Seasonal work is available in the seafood and horticulture industries and many jobs in the Tasman region are in seasonal commercial fishing and aquaculture processing (mainly the farming of mussel shellfish and salmon). The horticulture industry employs around 3,500 people, with most working in apple and pear growing (2,200 workers). Many jobs, such as fruit picking and tree pruning, are seasonal. Workers are in such high demand during peak periods that occasionally employers resort to importing labour from overseas. The Government has recently extended permits for overseas workers employed in horticulture so people can work for longer to help counter the shortage of workers in this industry. www.careers.govt.nz/jobs/agriculture-horticulture
Tasman District's estimated resident population is 46,800 (June 2009 estimate). This represents 1.1% of New Zealand's population. Most of Tasman's urban population lives in the Richmond Ward (10,851). It has the district's fastest growth rate, particularly in North Richmond where the population has grown by 23% since 1996. The second largest area of growth is in the Waimea/Moutere Ward. Mapua has posted the highest growth - 27.4% between 1996 and 2001. Although Tasman has recorded strong growth, statistics show that the region has a low population density. As at March 2001, there were an estimated 4.3 people per square kilometre. This is mainly due to the fact there are few large urban areas and because 58% of the area is in national park. Tasman has the country's highest percentage of people of European ethnicity - 96.8%.The number of Māori, Pacific Island and Asians has increased markedly since 1991, with Māori increasing by 60.5%. The main iwi represented in the wider Tasman region are Ngati Rarua, Ngati Tama (Golden Bay and Tasman Bay), Te Atiawa, Ngati Koata, Ngati Kuia (eastern Tasman Bay) and the Poutini Ngai Tahu (southern areas).Famous former residents include nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford, former Prime Ministers Bill Rowling and Keith Holyoake, and Sir Michael Myers, Chief Justice of New Zealand 1929- 1946.
Land area: 9,771km²
Main Centres: Richmond, Motueka, Collingwood, Takaka, Brightwater, Murchison, Mapua
According to tradition, the Māori waka Uruao, brought ancestors of the Waitaha people to Tasman in the 12th Century. Archaeological evidence suggests the first Māori settlers explored the region thoroughly, settling mainly along the coast where there was ample food. The succession of tribes into the area suggests considerable warfare interrupted their lives. Around 1828, Ngati Toa, under Te Rauparaha, and the allied northern tribes of Ngati Rarua and Ngati Tama, started their invasion of the South Island. They took over much of the area from Farewell Spit to the Wairau River.
The first immigrant ships from England arrived in 1842 and the European settlement of the region began under the leadership of Captain Arthur Wakefield. In the 1850s, agriculture and pastoral farming started and villages were established on the Waimea Plains and Motueka. In 1856, the discovery of gold near Collingwood sparked New Zealand's first gold rush. Significant reserves of iron ore were located at Onekaka and an iron works operated here during the 1920s and 1930s. Fruit growing started at the end of the 19th Century. By 1945, it was making a significant contribution to the local economy and that importance continues today.
Activities: What to do there?
Tasman is home to three national parks - Abel Tasman National Park (New Zealand's smallest at 225.41 km²), Nelson Lakes National Park (1,017.53 km²) and Kahurangi National Park (4,520 km²). With its warm, sunny climate the Abel Tasman is the perfect place for a multitude of activities all year round, whether it is something action-packed or just relaxing. There are power catamarans, on which you can visit the Tonga Island Marine Reserve, or kayaking in a tranquil lagoon. You can snorkel, go for bush walks or swim with the seals. Whether you're looking for an active holiday of tramping and kayaking, or a lazy day at the beach, Abel Tasman National Park is the perfect destination. Spectacular coastal scenery, golden sand beaches and crystal clear water make the Abel Tasman New Zealand's premier coastal hiking track. The Abel Tasman Coastal Walk is also one of New Zealand’s most accessible hiking tracks. It takes an average of three to five days to complete the 51km track.
The region combines small city hearts with big city style. A sophisticated, cosmopolitan place, the region is
home to passionate people fuelled by fresh food, good wine, sunshine and a light sea breeze. Winemakers,
chocolate makers, cheese makers, bakers, artists, brewers and chefs all breathe life into their products,
many of which can be found at a string of vibrant local markets throughout the region. Tasman is also home
to three national parks, countless walkways, bike trails and natural wonders that motivate many local artists
to paint and draw the local landscape. The area naturally creates a vibrant environment offering visitors the
opportunity to meet and mix with local artists and craftspeople, visit their studios, and participate in art tours
and workshops. Follow the Coastal Highway from Richmond through Mapua to Motueka and enjoy a tour of
art studios, galleries, cafés, and some 22 wineries en route. There are many galleries and open studios
along the coastal and inland highways that welcome visitors. This is where you will find that special piece of
pottery, that quirky sculpture or a fine landscape capturing the essence of the region.
Airports: International airports closest to Abel Tasman National Park are Wellington (North Island) and Christchurch (South Island). Two regional airlines offer scheduled services into Nelson airport.
Fly from Wellington to Takaka and catch a shuttle to Wainui Bay at the northern entrance to Abel Tasman. www.goldenbayair.co.nz/abeltasman
Roads: Motueka to Kaiteriteri: Take highway 60 out of Motueka for approximately 8kms (five miles). The highway contains several junctions but stick to the main road as it crosses the Motueka River (a long, narrow two-lane bridge), runs into Main Rd, Riwaka, and then crosses the Riwaka River Bridge. Just over the Riwaka Bridge, there is a right-hand turn signposted to Abel Tasman National Park via Kaiteriteri and Marahau. Turn right, and continue for 6kms to Kaiteriteri.
Buses: Many bus and coach services connect Nelson and Motueka with other destinations in the North and South islands.
Ferries: Cruises and water taxi services are available in the Abel Tasman National Park. Take a water taxi and then walk some of the park’s coastal track or cruise the coastline and enjoy the sites.
Train: The Tranzalpine (Christchurch-Greymouth) The TranzAlpine travels between Christchurch and Greymouth, from one coast of the South Island to the other. From your carriage you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri and then the majestic Southern Alps and finally the beech forests of the West Coast.
Cycling: The Abel Tasman National Park is a biker’s paradise. There are mountain bike trails and firebreak trails, so there opportunities to pedal away and do your own thing. Alternatively you can sign up for a guided trip.
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