Conflict between sea–kayakers and motorised watercraft users along the Abel Tasman National Park coastline, New Zealand Research Completed


Conflict between sea–kayakers and motorised watercraft users along the Abel Tasman National Park coastline, New Zealand

Lead Author

Hawke, N. & Booth, K.


Lincoln University

Publication Year



Lincoln University


Lincoln University Research Archive record for this paper.


The Abel Tasman National Park coastline is a mecca for water-based recreationists. Its golden beaches and clear water attract many thousands of visitors to the region each year. The area has witnessed many changes over the years, most notably a rapid increase in the number and size of commercial sea-kayak companies operating along the coastline. This growth has been paralleled by a dramatic increase in the number of independent sea-kayakers, a steady increase in the number of motorboat users and the introduction of jet-skiers along the coastline. Such use has resulted in increasing problems of crowding and conflict in the area. This thesis responds to a research gap identified by Cessford (1998b) in a report on visitors to the Abel Tasman National Park. He found that 53% of sea-kayakers were disturbed on the water by motorboats and stated that further research should focus on the conflict issues between the two groups. As jet-skiers are an emerging user group along the coastline, they were added to this study. Thus, this study examines conflict between sea-kayakers and motorised watercraft users (motorboaters and jet-skiers). Conflict is common in outdoor recreation and the most intense conflicts often occur between motorised and non-motorised user groups. The common result of previous studies is an asymmetrical conflict relationship, where the non-motorised users dislike meeting the motorised users. The motorised users remain unperturbed by the presence of non-motorised users and may even enjoy their presence. This study seeks to understand the conflict issues for both groups involved in the study, and to examine the extent to which water safety contributes to such conflict. Jacob and Schreyer’s (1980) theory of goal interference remains the most useful basis for studying conflict in recreation. Its premise is that conflict results from goal interference attributed to another recreationist’s behaviour. Many previous conflict studies have been based around this concept and this study uses the same theory to examine the conflict along the Abel Tasman National Park coastline. Qualitative and quantitative research methods were used in this research. Two hundred and thirteen (213) questionnaire surveys were collected and thirteen in-depth interviews with recreation area managers and commercial operators were conducted. Participation observation occurred throughout the study period, and brochures, promoting sea-kayaking and the Abel Tasman in general, were examined. This study found three main differences to previous recreational conflict studies. First, unlike other studies where motorised users are not perturbed by non-motorised users, this study found that: sea-kayakers are a hazard to motorised watercraft users, sea-kayakers are difficult to see, and the number of sea-kayakers was of concern to motorised watercraft users as they believed an accident may occur. Second, as well as the identification of an inter-group asymmetrical conflict between sea-kayakers and motorised watercraft users, this study found an intra-group conflict within the motorised watercraft users group. This was based upon recreational specialisation, emotional attachment to the Abel Tasman National Park coastline, and water safety issues. Third, this study expands Jacob and Schreyer’s (1980) theory by suggesting four more factors which contribute to recreational conflict. These factors are the layout of the land, time deepening, place promotion, and the influence of recreation area management agencies. Recommendations to help mitigate the conflict are provided.


Kayak, Coast, Conflict, Abel Tasman, Tourism, Commercial, National Park, Coastline

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July 12, 2012

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