Lakes, rivers, ocean, forests, mountains and beaches. Renowned for its thriving natural surroundings, spectacular coastal and inland landscapes and high sunshine hours, it’s no surprise that the environment is an integral feature of any holiday in Nelson Tasman.

Desired as a place to reconnect, revive and recharge, protection of the pristine environment is just a way of life in the Top of the South, and this light footprint holiday is the perfect way to enjoy it all.

The first of its’ kind in New Zealand, this 4-day zero carbon itinerary brings together extraordinary experiences, delectable cuisine, spectacular scenery and comfortable accommodation in one place. It’s not perfect yet, but in a world where every small footprint counts, it’s a great way to dip your toe into conscious travel. 

All of the businesses who feature in this itinerary are Zero Carbon* or Climate Positive** certified. This means that they are regularly audited to measure, reduce and offset their emissions. What’s more, when you book this itinerary through the Nelson i-SITE, they’ll help tailor it especially for you and will offset your travel to, from and around the region. 


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Day 1

Your holiday begins with an arrival into the award-winning Nelson Airport, a striking sculptural landmark using passive design principles and built with locally sourced timbers. If you fancy a cycling adventure from day one, The Gentle Cycling Company** can combine e-bikes with sage advice as you set off on Tasman's Great Taste Trail in search of chocolate-box scenery and wonderful new flavours. Or join Wine Art and Wilderness** on one of their guided tours around wineries, art galleries or the region’s best nature spots. After a day out exploring, pick up a hybrid car from New Zealand Rent-A-Car or Hertz, and head into Nelson City for the evening. 

The ideal place to toast your holiday and plot your next day’s experiences is The Free House**, a converted church and the first climate positive pub in the country. Here, you’ll find a wide range of delicious craft brews on tap (including the much-loved Mussel Inn** beverages), and they even let you bring along your own food! Stocking up on picnic provisions for a night in a pub-church requires a pit stop at Fresh Choice Nelson, a supermarket that specialises in local produce. Look for their ‘less than 200km’ labels to help with your decision making, and don’t forget to include some goodies from Yum Granola** and the Chia Sisters**.

At the end of the day, sleeping with a clear conscience is easy in a private room with ensuite at the centrally located YHA Nelson by Accents*, right on the doorstep of the Nelson Saturday Market.

Day 2

This morning set off to Mārahau for a full day trip with Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi* and Mārahau Sea Kayaks*, stopping off to grab a coffee from Celcius Coffee** in Motueka on the way. They offer boating, hiking and kayaking trips in the Abel Tasman National Park, all of which have been measured and are zero carbon certified. You could choose a Fantasy Island guided trip, taking in the pristine golden coastline to Adele Island and the happy chatter from the abundant birdlife – a direct result of an initiative by local tourism operators called The Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust. The seals lolling on nearby rocks are also worth a visit.

Celebrate a day in paradise at the relaxed waterfront beer garden at Hooked*, another local favourite that has measured and offset its operational emissions.

Choices for guilt-free overnight accommodation in Mārahau are abundant. There’s the modern and stylish rooms set amongst beautiful native grounds at Abel Tasman Lodge**, with an EV station for charging your hybrid vehicle. Abel Tasman Ocean View Chalets** are ideally situated on the doorstep of the national park, where you can make the most of the stunning seaside views from your private balcony. Or, if classic kiwi camping in the village is what you’re looking for, look no further than Marahau Beach Camp*.

Day 3

Do you feel like an exhilarating adventure or a soak-up-the-scene cruise along an unspoiled glistening golden coastline? A daredevil’s yes sees you join Abel Tasman Canyons* as you zipline, jump, slide and abseil down pristine waterfalls of the Torrent River in the depths of the national park. If a more relaxing experience is more your style, you’re all aboard Abel Tasman Sailing Adventures* for a full day on the water or choose a combo that includes seal-spotting and a bit of landlubber time exploring inside the park.

Day 4

After another restful night in Mārahau, it’s just a short drive to Motueka where you can get a bird’s eye view of the region with Skydive Abel Tasman*. When you’re 20,000 feet up, nothing obstructs your views of the Abel Tasman coastline or the rugged mountains of Kahurangi National Park, an unforgettable almost-end to your trip. Touch down and head back toward Nelson Airport, stopping at a roadside stall for some fresh fruit from the home of New Zealand’s horticulture. The region is home too, to Pic’s Peanut Butter World**. The memory of roasting peanuts on their factory tour will stay with you long after you’ve gone, jogged easily every time you open a jar of Pic’s Peanut Butter to slather on your toast.

Whether you’re visiting for a day, four or more, there’s plenty of choice to shape a light footprint holiday in Nelson Tasman. You don’t have to deny yourself anything – travelling responsibly doesn’t mean missing out on delectable cuisine, extraordinary experiences, spectacular scenery and comfortable accommodation. As is often the case, life isn’t about making big changes, but a few small steps can go a long way.  

Book this itinerary (or one tailored just for you) through the Nelson i-SITE using the form below and we will offset your travel to, from and around the Nelson Tasman region with EKOS*. Not only will you get to experience a light footprint holiday, but you’ll also be giving back to the environment through the Uruwhenua Project in Mohua Golden Bay, a permanent, restorative indigenous forest project. *T&C’s apply.



Carbon offsetting is when a business takes responsibility for the carbon pollution it has released into the atmosphere. Companies work with an external organisation (e.g. Ekos or Toitū) that is specialised in measurement and offsetting services.

Being “zero carbon” does not mean a business produces “zero” emissions. The “zero” refers to the net balance of emissions that is left over once an organisation has accounted for both its emissions and its offsets.

  • Zero Carbon/Carbon Zero/Carbon Neutral all mean the same thing – offsetting 100% of emissions.
  • Climate Positive/Carbon Positive/Carbon Negative – all mean a company is offsetting MORE than the emissions it creates. 

When a business offsets with Ekos it is choosing to finance the removal of an equal volume of carbon emissions from the atmosphere. The principal of ‘additionality’ means the carbon sequestration would not have happened if you didn’t pay for it to happen. Ekos links businesses to restorative carbon forest projects. Carbon is sequestered in tree trunks where it can be measured and issued as a credit.

At Ekos our mantra is measure emissions, reduce what you can, offset what you can’t –then repeat. Every year, a business is working to reduce its emissions, but acknowledging that some emissions may be impossible to completely reduce. That is where offsetting kicks in - to help businesses reduce the climate impact they are having, while also investing in forests that produce a range of other environmental benefits. It’s not a perfect system but doing something is definitely better than doing nothing!

No, only certified carbon credits can be used to make Zero Carbon claims. There is strict standardisation associated with carbon footprint measurement and how we measure carbon benefits to the atmosphere. These standards are designed to ensure the integrity of any claim that is made by a business, and to protect the carbon market system from false accounting.

Yes, they do. But that’s why Ekos (and the emissions trading scheme) create carbon forest projects. Forests are complex living systems, that naturally regenerate themselves – if a granddaddy tree falls down, a young tree will naturally grow up in its place. Healthy, thriving forests can go on living and providing carbon reservoir services for 1000’s of years – that is why it is essential that we do everything in our power to protect the ones we have, and to plant new restorative forests where we can.