There is so much to see in Nelson Tasman that you’ll be spoilt for choice on your visit here. The region boasts a remarkable combination of alpine and coastal landscapes, with stunning bays, blue lakes and picturesque plains nestled amongst mighty mountain ranges.
The region is home to three extraordinary national parks – Kahurangi National Park, Nelson Lakes National Park and Abel Tasman National Park – each offering a surprisingly diverse range of sightseeing opportunities - from the golden sandy beaches, turquoise blue waters and lush native forest of the Abel Tasman, to the alpine vistas and glacial lakes of Nelson Lakes, to the untracked wilderness and wonderful wildlife of the Kahurangi. You'll see an abundance of nature and wildlife either on your own trip or as part of a guided walk, or spot seals, penguins and dolphins from one of the many scenic cruises through our pristine marine reserves.
Hugging the coastline off Nelson City you’ll also find Te Pokohiwi (the Boulder Bank). At 13km in length, it’s the largest natural reef and boulder formation in the Southern Hemisphere and is a nesting place for several species of migratory coastal birds. The Boulder Bank houses a historic 19th century lighthouse, and visitors can climb the internal staircase to enjoy the stunning view from the balcony at the top – contact a local tour operator like The Ferry or Abel Tasman Sailing Adventures for more details, or collect a key from Port Nelson if you want to make your own way there.
Meanwhile, over in Golden Bay it’s well worth a visit to Te Waikoropupū Springs – the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand, producing roughly 14,000 litres per second of some of the most optically clear water ever measured. Also in Golden Bay is the 25km long Farewell Spit. One of the longest natural sand-spits in the world, the sanctuary is home to more than 90 species of migratory birds. A tour of the spit will take you as far north as Cape Farewell, where you’ll see quartz sandstone cliffs dropping vertically into the sea and New Zealand fur seals lazing on the rocks. Further around the coast is Wharariki Beach, sitting proudly at the Top of the South with a majestic scattering of carved rock arches and landforms.
You can find a selection of beautiful gardens, parks and reserves throughout the region, perfect for enjoying a picnic amongst picturesque surroundings. In central Nelson City you can stroll around the Queens Gardens, or head down past Founders Heritage Park to Miyazu Gardens, named after our Japanese sister city, where you’ll see waterlilies and a variety of native and exotic plantings. Washbourn Gardens in Richmond features a fernery, fuschia house and begonia house, and Gardens of the World in Hope are easy to explore, completely tranquil, and ringing with birdsong from dawn until dusk.