With a mild climate, spectacular coastal scenery and access to several marine playgrounds, Nelson Tasman is one of the fastest growing regions in New Zealand and fast becoming a popular lifestyle destination. Located at the top of the South Island, bordering Marlborough, Nelson is known for its pristine beaches, limestone hills, untouched forests and its namesake – the Abel Tasman National park. It is also home to ‘Harwoods Hole’ the deepest vertical shaft in the southern hemisphere – well worth the visit if you have time.
Although an abundance of activities on offer both for the sedentary and those seeking a little adrenaline, there are a few key attractions in the area that should be included in any holiday. The first is the Abel Tasman Coastal Track. One of New Zealand’s Great Walks, this spectacular scenic journey stretches 60 kilometres through beachside forest, glittering bays and crystal clear waters. Dotted with lodges and campsites along the way, you can choose to hike the track in its entirety, or just venture out for the day. Another must-do while you’re here is the Nelson Lakes National Park. Stay in the picturesque gateway town of St Arnaud and choose from a range of short and long walks through towering peaks, remote lakes and native bush. Get your feet wet and take a kayak tour round the Tonga Island marine reserve where you’ll see native sea-birds, penguins, seals, and – if you’re really lucky – dolphins. Choose to snorkel one of the many reefs – known for their distinct pink algae coating the rocks.
If you prefer a more relaxing adventure, make time to visit one (or several) of Nelson’s award winning wineries. Wander the vines at Te Mania, learn about organic and biodynamic viticulture at Richmond Plains or sample the vintage from Waimea Estates and Middle Earth Wines. Nelson is also known for its abundance of gourmet food. Throughout the region a variety of artisan producers have everything on offer from breads, chocolates and chutneys to fine meats and salami. Another ‘foodie’ experience that’s not to be missed is the smokehouse at Mapua – where seafood, fine meats, vegetables are delicately hot-smoked while you wait.
No trip to Nelson would be complete without a trip Golden Bay. Heading over Takaka hill known as ‘Marble Mountain’ there are several geological wonders well worth the visit. Stop at the Ngarua Caves and (if you haven’t already) Harwoods Hole. Also not to be missed is the Te Waikoropupu Springs on the the other side of the hill. The springs are sacred to the local indigenous maori and feature information panels along the way.
Whether you’re pressed for time or have several days to fill, the Nelson Tasman region will deliver on all accounts. In an ideal world we recommend you spend at least two days here to really experience what this spectacular place has to offer.