Renowned for its stunning golden sands, sweeping granite coastline, lush native bush and crystal-clear waters, a visit to the Abel Tasman National Park is a must-do on any travellers itinerary. What's more, this pristine paradise can be explored in your own way, and at your own pace. So, whether you fancy a multi-day hike along the spectacular Abel Tasman Coastal Track, or if a short scenic cruise or kayak is more your style, you'll find something to suit your interests here. And, if you just can't get enough, you can even spend the night in the midst of the park at one of the luxury lodges, on board a backpacker boat, or even glamping by the beach!
2. Explore the region's art & history
An extraordinary depth of passion for the arts shines through in this historic city, where stunning murals are discoverable at every turn, and cobblestone streets are juxstaposed alongside spectacularly modern art galleries. Go back in time with a visit to South Street, New Zealand's oldest fully preserved street, or spend the afternoon at Founder's Heritage Park, where character buildings house passionate artisan businesses, and windmills, freighter planes and red railway trains form just part of the scenery. Browse the wonderful collections of wearable art garments and classic cars at the National WOW Museum (temporarily closed), before making your way around the art galleries and studios that stretch from the city through to the bay.
3. Stroll around the weekend markets
Immerse yourself in the natural abundance of Nelson Tasman at the weekend markets, which are held on Saturdays in Nelson City, or on Sundays in Motueka. A drawcard for locals and visitors alike, the markets showcase the extraordinary artists and artisans that call the region home, and offer ample opportunity to get a taste for Nelson Tasman's unique culture. A selection of boutique stalls and food carts adorn the car-parks, offering everything from goat milk soap, to handcrafted jewellery, manuka honey, chutneys and even the world famous Pic's Peanut Butter.
4. Go on a cycling adventure
A network of leisurely cycle trails and mountain-bike parks dissect the Nelson Tasman region, each offering new sights, sounds and experiences for those who choose to explore them. Whether it's the panoramic vistas from the top of the Dun Mountain Trail, the lush native forest canopy that shelters the Wairoa Gorge mountain-bike park, or the spectacular coastal scenery of Tasman's Great Taste Trail, there are endless discoveries to be made. The Great Taste Trail holds the title as one of New Zealand's Great Rides, and can be broken down into smaller sections suitable for families or leisurely riders (our personal favourite is the journey between Stoke and Mapua, ending with a glass of wine at the Wharf).
5. Sample a craft beer, cider or wine
Whether you're visiting one of our 11 craft breweries, tasting your way around the 28 cellar doors, or simply kicking back at one of the spectacular waterfront restaurants, one cannot visit Nelson Tasman without sampling a selection of local artisan beverages. Our consistently sunny climate and fertile soils allow us to produce the high quality ingredients that our passionate artisan producers then craft into something truly extraordinary for the taste-buds. What's more, from the picturesque Waimea Plains through to the rolling Moutere Hills, an array of stunning natural landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for a spontaneous vineyard lunch or a cycle tour through the orchards.
6. Soak up the sun at the beach
A pristine coastline of extraordinary beauty lines the Nelson Tasman region, so it seems only fitting that an excursion to one of the local beaches forms part of your itinerary. Just a few minutes from the city, Tahunanui Beach is the epi-centre of activity at all times of the year, with kitesurfers, paddleboarders and kayakers enjoying the sheltered waters of the bay. Further afield, the long stretch of sand at Rabbit Island is a much-loved destination for family get-togethers and beachside BBQ's. And of course, one cannot forget the spectacular golden beaches that lay amongst the sweeping granite coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park. Whether venturing into its depths by foot, boat or kayak, or simply indulging in the scenery on the outskirts of the park, we guarantee you'll be pinching yourself that such a paradise actually exists.
7. Unwind at the Mapua Wharf
A culmination of the very best of kiwi culture can be discovered with a visit to the Mapua Wharf. A popular destination for locals and visitors alike, the Wharf is a pedestrian-only precinct known for its sophisticated shops, boutique galleries, waterfront eateries and artisan bars. Peruse the art, sculpture and jewellery collections located in the cool-store galleries, indulge in local flavours at the wine bar or brewery, or simply relax by the seaside with some delectable cuisine, watching on as elated children plunge from the edge of the jetty into the waters below.
8. Explore Golden Bay
Golden Bay is home to some of the Nelson Tasman region's most stunning natural landscapes, and we guarantee that what lay on the other side of the Takaka Hill is well worth the short drive to get there. From a short trek over farmland to reach the wild and wonderful Wharariki Beach, to a guided nature tour along the majestic length of Farewell Spit, to viewing some of the clearest water ever measured at Te Waikoropupu Springs, the adventures to be had here are endless.
9. Visit the Nelson Lakes National Park
The Nelson Lakes are truly picture perfect all year round, whether they are basking under the warm Autumn sun, or flaunting a fresh coating of snowfall in Winter. The National Park can be accessed from the alpine village of St Arnaud, where nestled amongst undulating mountains lay 16 glacial lakes just waiting to be discovered. The most popular (and most accessible) lake is Lake Rotoiti, offering a range of leisurely lakeside walks through forest alive with birdsong. As the enchanting calls of tuis and bellbirds echo through the treetops, day walkers will be treated to the spectacular scenery and wonderful waterfalls that this little pocket of paradise is renowned for.
10. Dine in the central City
Nelson City is abuzz as a dining and entertainment destination all year round, with alfresco dining on cobblestone streets and wonderful waterfront restaurants characterising the culinary scene. During the summer months, visitors can experience live entertainment and outdoor dining in the Top of Trafalgar dining precinct, whilst during the winter months, the city comes alive in a moveable feasts extravaganza with the annual Feast for the Senses event. People are often surprised by the diversity of the regions cuisine, as quirky cocktail bars, microbreweries and food carts sit neatly alongside fine-dining establishments and riverside restaurants, adding yet another layer of intrigue to the central city dining experience.