We are pleased you are bringing your students to Abel Tasman National Park. The information and ideas below are mainly suggestions made by the Project Janszoon Student Advisory Board, student representatives from schools who have adopted restoration areas in the park.
These suggestions are what they think other kids visiting the park might like to know. In particular, there is information to help kids who may be feeling a bit nervous about tramping for the first time. We hope the information makes it easier to plan your trip and gets everyone excited!
About the Abel Tasman National Park
There's information about the Abel Tasman Coast Track on this website. Maps, safety information and alerts are available. You can download the Abel Tasman Coast Track walk brochure (PDF, 3,257).
Visit the Project Janszoon website to find out what you can see in the park and the work the Project Janszoon Trust is doing with DOC, the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust, community and local iwi to restore the ecology of the park.
If your students want to know more about the Student Advisory Board and how they are actively involved in restoring the park, see the Trust's education website.
You can download the visitor app that has points of interest along the track.
Other resources and ideas
- There are hundreds of videos about Abel Tasman National Park on YouTube. This is one of our favourites for a bit of an overview and pretty scenery shots.
- View a list of concessionaires who offer special packages for schools – everything from gear transport, guides and kayak hire. Have you considered starting half your group walking on the tramp while the other half kayaks get to a half way point, then swap over? The concessionaires can help you organise that.
Does a kid poop in the woods?
Here are some activities on how to deal with human waste and the other seven principles of Leave No Trace so you can make sure your trips is a positive one for your students and the park:
We understand part of the satisfaction of doing a ‘great walk’ is completing it but remember that you don’t have to. Instead you can spend an entire day (or two nights) at one hut/campground. It's a great way to refresh tired kids and really explore one area. It also gives more time for activities, team building, swimming, and sand castle building. We recommend Anchorage Hut and Bark Bay Hut as great full day stops.
What does ‘tramping’ mean?
Te Ara website gives a great overview of tramping in New Zealand – everything you may want to consider from history of tramping in New Zealand, tramping lingo and good tramping yarns. You may find this helpful to generate talking points and excitement. We encourage you to submit your own tramping stories after your visit.
What to bring
Enjoying your trip has a lot to do with bringing the right equipment and gear. Be sure to add bug spray and a good rain jacket to all the other essentials – contrary to popular belief it does rain in Golden Bay and the park, and there are sandflies. Make sure your food list includes a few treats.
There are hundreds of gear lists and backcountry food recipes available online. Here’s a few of our favourites:
Are we there yet?
Let your students be the guide, it will help break up the walk and keep kids engaged. Have students research one or two of the most common plants and animals they will see during your tramp, and then search for them during the walk. When they find the plant/animal that they researched, they can be the guide and share the information with the group.
Have a team be in charge of time keeping and predicting distance to destination based on speed of travel. They can give updates every 30 minutes. No need to ask ‘are we there yet?’, you will get an update every half hour.
Is your bag overweight?
Figuring out how much weight to carry in your backpack can make a big difference, not only in how much students enjoy their trip but is also important in helping to prevent injury (back, shoulder, neck and knee strain).
Have your students figure out how much weight they should carry (remember to include the weight of the pack when empty).
The amount each person can carry will depend on several factors, such as fitness, build type, bone and muscle density, the health of your joints (knees in particular), and age.
Guidelines used by recreational backpackers are that an individual in good health should be able to carry about 15–20% of their body weight, about 7.5 kg for a 50 kg person.
A little practice helps you go a long way
Can you carry everything in your bag and are your shoes comfortable?
A week or two before the trip have students pack their backpack with everything they think they might like to take (or rocks weighing the same amount) and wear the shoes they are planning to wear on the tramp. Then go for a walk around school or the neighbourhood for at least 30 minutes.
This will help them figure out if the backpack is adjusted correctly and if their shoes are comfortable.
It’s important to pre-test new hiking shoes, and this should not be on day one of the tramp! Are there any rub points that need attention with band aids or gauze? HikersWool or Moleskin are very thick, cushioned, extra-adhesive, specialized plasters for blisters. The're available from pharmacies and well worth the extra cost.
More useful information
- Information (and video) on packing a backpack (you can skip the part about taking bear canisters).
- Information (and video) on backpack adjusting and fit.
- Comprehensive blister prevention/treatment information.
- The Ministry of Education offers lesson plans relating to school camps.
- EPIC Encyclopaedia Britannica School primary, middle and secondary all have information about camping and the history of camping. Use ‘camping’ as a keyword.
- The Pond offers a huge range of relevant educational resources on its catalogue.
Kids get the last word
Here are some of the ‘must do’ tips from Project Janszoon’s Student Advisory Board:
- swim – the water is amazing!
- kayak – you haven’t experienced Abel Tasman unless you see it from the water
- visit Cleopatra Falls – it’s a short side trip and you will never forget it
- make a difference – find out how you can get involved in helping Project Janszoon restore the Abel Tasman, or get involved with a conservation or restoration project close to your home.
We know how important it is to you that your students have a positive and memorable experience. If you need any further assistancecontact us at the Nelson Visitor Centre.
Enjoy your tramp!