Top Autumn Day Trips
Posted on Tuesday 15 March 2022
The grand finale of a successful summer season is the Nelson Tasman Autumn experience - with vast blue skies that seem eternal, a radiant sun that suddenly burns cool, donning our region in vibrant orange hues! Enjoy the last of the golden weather, and get out for the day to explore some of Nelson Tasman’s breath-taking natural landscapes or head indoors for a spot of local culture.
Cycle Tasman’s Great Taste Trail
What better activity for a crisp autumn day than taking in the region's stunning views by bicycle on Tasman's Great Taste Trail. The trail can be done as a whole, or in sections, but whichever you choose your path will take you to vineyards, breweries, orchards, art galleries and boutique shops. The Norris Gully section of the Trail, as well as the vineyard section between Brightwater and Richmond, is particularly beautiful during the Autumn season as the green vines turn to gold. Or, if some off-road adventure is more your style, Nelson Tasman also has a selection of mountain-bike parks, including Kaiteriteri, Codgers and Wairoa Gorge for some action-packed autumn activity.
Explore the gems of Golden Bay
Is it a day for sandy toes or the splash of a waterfall? No trip to Golden Bay is complete without a visit or a tour of the 35km Farewell Spit, home to a vast bird sanctuary and various other wildlife. Opt for a tour that also includes a visit to Cape Farewell, the South Island's most northerly point. Here you’ll get to enjoy stunning scenic views from the Pillar Point Lighthouse and spot seals basking on the rocks below - just a few of the extraordinary sights you’ll be treated to along this spectacularly rugged coastline. Or, you can walk the Wainui Falls Track, a short distance before Takaka. This easy walk through the lush native bush will bring you to the largest, accessible and most beautiful waterfalls in Golden Bay.
Enjoy local labours of love: Wine and Beer
At the top of the South Island, there's an unmistakable freshness to the land and the ocean. Here, a friendly artisan and creative culture grows, extending to craft beer and winemaking with a multitude of family-owned boutique vineyards and craft beer breweries. The Nelson Beer Trail, Winery Tours and Cellar Door Experiences are a great way to savour the extraordinary wines and beers created from both the rolling hills and the picturesque plains of the region. With many of the cellar doors, you’ll get the opportunity to ‘meet the maker’ as the passion for crafting wonderfully drinkable beverages passes through the Nelson Tasman generations. You can even have a beer in New Zealand's oldest pub, the Moutere Inn, first built back in 1850, serving local wines, and craft beers made from Nelson Tasman hops.
Explore the Abel Tasman
The Nelson Tasman region's Abel Tasman National Park offers well-formed tracks amidst a stunning coastal environment which turns an array of gold during the Autumn months. The track itself is 51km, but can easily be broken up into smaller sections making for a lovely day trip for you and your company as you catch the seasons rays. Local tour operators offer water taxi, sea shuttle and cruises so you can customise your day trip to suit your needs and get the most fun out of your day! The autumn season often sees calm water conditions for kayak tours too, for you to explore the expansive golden coves and stretches of beaches of the National Park.
Discover Our Regions Art
Long famed for its creative community, the Nelson Tasman region is home to galleries and street art to fit all tastes. Many individuals from our abundant arts community are represented or on display at their own studios, local galleries, or via unique sculptures and murals dotted around the city. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to arty experiences here and self-exploration of the inner city, either by foot or bike reveals these colourful artworks from a range of inspiring artists. Take in the bold and beautiful Aotearoa mural on Wakefield Quay, the tui perched on a harakeke tree at Neale Park, the giant seal and squid building in Buxton Square and the dense green foliage of the urban jungle at the top of Trafalgar Street - you’ll be sure to discover something new at every turn.
To find more about our local galleries see here.
Wonder at Autumn Stargazing
Soak in and wonder up at the dazzling beauty of millions of stars in some of the clearest, darkest night skies during the Autumn months thanks to a few local spots - perfect for stargazing enthusiasts. Nelson Lakes National Park as well as a small picnic area ‘Dark Sky Park’ in Wai-iti near Nelson is now recognised as one the world’s best spots for stargazing. Make sure you check the forecast to witness the stars in all their glory!
Nelson Tasman Wildlife Encounters
There’s no shortage of amazing animals to see in Nelson Tasman’s idyllic wilderness, with many of them native to the country. These encounters are one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences and spotting dolphins, orca, seals and birds in their natural habitat is common during the Autumn season. If you do have a few days to spare, there are plenty of friendly flipper-clad creatures who are well worth seeking out. Experience a close encounter with these sociable seals on a multi-day kayaking tour, a scenic boat trip or as part of a tour with Abel Tasman Eco Tours. Or, experience the Farewell Spit Nature reserve, renowned as a bird sanctuary and wetland of international importance. Over 90 species of migratory and wading birds flock to the sand spit each year, including gannets, godwits and arctic waders for you to see!
Nelson Lakes National Park
Nelson Lakes National Park is not for the faint-hearted, although there are a series of lakeside walking tracks for those looking for a short afternoon stroll as the trees begin to shed their leaves. Soak up the atmosphere of this rejuvenating native bush and for information on what flora and fauna to look out for along the way, make sure you check out the Rotoiti/Nelson Lakes Visitor Centre before you set out. For all the walks and their lengths of time, check out the Department of Conservation Nelson Lakes walks brochure here.
Nelson Tasman offers a range of markets all year round, rain or shine, on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, brimming with a diverse range of seasonal fresh produce, local gourmet food demonstrations and tastings. These markets are renowned for their high-quality stalls showcasing and celebrating the fine produce and creative endeavours of the people of the Nelson Tasman region. With a wide variety of food carts, it also makes for a wonderful place to meet friends and share brunch or lunch while checking out the array of seasonal Autumn goods on offer.
Let the wind fly in your sails
Relax with family, friends, couples, or anyone who wishes to enjoy the splendour of Nelson Tasman; watching absolutely stunning Autumn sunsets on a comfortable sailing catamaran with Abel Tasman Sailing Adventures. A sail in Tasman Bay or around the harbour at dusk is a beautiful way to cruise idyllic waters and you may even witness some birds and local marine life in their natural habitat. This truly is the most peaceful, quiet and relaxing way to enjoy the Nelson Tasman region!