Sunny top of the south
Located in the north western corner of the South Island, this region is home to three national parks and two Great Walks, all within easy reach of the small port city of Nelson. It also happens to be New Zealand’s only hops growing region so after a hard day of hiking, paddling or cycling, you’ll be able to relax with a fine craft beer.
Despite being relatively close to each other, each of the region’s national parks are quite distinctive, offering adventurers a range of different experiences and landscapes from hiking besides alpine lakes and through mountain forests to kayaking along palm-fringed golden sand beaches.
Top things to do in Nelson Tasman
Looking for ideas to help you plan the ultimate New Zealand outdoor adventure? Here are some of the top things for active travellers to see and do in the Nelson & Tasman region.
Visit Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman may be New Zealand’s smallest national park but it sure does deliver, with golden sand beaches, clear turquoise water and an abundance of marine and bird life. The 60 km / 37 mile Abel Tasman Coastal Track is on of New Zealand’s official Great Walks, offering both camping and hutted accommodation. Alternatively, try a half, single or multi-day kayak tour with Abel Tasman Kayaks or combine hiking and kayaking for the best of both worlds.
Visit Kahurangi National Park
In contrast to Abel Tasman, the more remote Kahurangi National Park offers a diverse landscape of mountains, alpine meadows and coastal forest with palm fringed beaches on the island’s west coast. There are numerous walking tracks although many of them require good backcountry skills and fitness. Kahurangi is also home to the Heaphy Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks which can be hiked in 4 to 6 days. Between May and November the track can also be cycled although this is classified as an advanced mountain biking track.
Visit Nelson Lakes National Park
The small village of St Arnaud is the gateway too this national park which marks the start of the Southern Alps. Extensive glaciation and erosion of the alps has left behind beautiful forested valleys and crystal clear lakes which can be explored via a number of walking tracks, ranging from a few hours to several days. If nothing else, consider a rest stop on the edge of Lake Rotoiti if travelling along Highway 63 between Blenheim and the West Coast.
Visit Farewell Spit and Wharariki Beach
Farewell Spit marks the northernmost point of the South Island. While it’s possible to walk a short distance along the base of Farewell Spit, this internationally-renowned bird sanctuary is only fully accessible with DOC approved tour operators. However, nearby Wharariki Beach with its iconic rock formations is easily accessible and the perfect place to enjoy a beautiful sunset.