Found towards the northern point of the South Island, Nelson is a place perhaps known best for the skills and the talents of the people who live there. This bustling city is full of shops, markets and galleries that exhibit arts and crafts created by local artists. In fact, this area hosts the largest number of working artists in the country, with works spanning traditional, contemporary and Maori styles.
Of course, this is New Zealand, meaning that if you like beauty that is more naturally occurring than carefully crafted, there are a whole heap of options across the Abel Tasman National Park: the country’s only coastal park.
Things to do in Nelson and Abel Tasman
Experiences in Nelson and Abel Tasman
The only place we can recommend for your first stop is the Abel Tasman National Park. Its coastal landscape makes it unique among New Zealand’s national parks, and it’s one of our favourites.
You’re welcome to explore the stretches of sandy beaches and swirls of turquoise waters on your own, but taking a Guided Track tour will give you access to passionate, professional guides who will fill your heads with facts and knowledge about the country and the local area, told with humour and sensitivity.
This tour also opens options for comfy accommodation, at Homestead House or Torrent Bay Lodge, with a full day’s worth of delicious food included.
Tours of Nelson and Abel Tasman
For any budding twitchers we heartily recommend a trip to the Farewell Spit, at the northernmost tip of the South Island. Here you’ll find the world’s longest sandbar which also happens to be home to thousands of migratory wading birds over the course of the year.
This unique wetland is protected by the New Zealand department of conservation, so you’ll have to sign up to guided tour to get up close to the godwits, knots and 90 other species of birds that stop by this spot every year. We recommend The Farewell Spit Eco Tour, which follows the sight of flocking birds with a trip out to Puponga to see the sun-gorged seals and their adorable pups basking on the rocks. The tour also twists round to the lighthouse and reserve at Fossil Point, a must-see for history buffs as it takes its name from the remains of wildlife past that litter its cliffs.
Anyone looking for a ‘wheelie good’ holiday experience, should hit the Tasman Great Taste Trial. This popular cycle trail winds its way past vineyards, stunning scenery and a varied range of arts, crafts and culinary attractions. The purpose-built cycle paths ensure that nearly the whole trip stays under Grade 2 (easy), making it perfectly suited for those looking for a leisurely ride they can enjoy not endure. There’s a whole host of hire spots and access points, so day rides are an easily achievable option but we recommend the whole 174km loop, taking in Nelson, Richmond and Wakefield. You’ll cover rural, urban and waterside terrain, getting a great taste of all the region has to offer, from delicious food, to quirky guesthouses and quiet, natural grace.
Ready to Experience the Wonders of Nelson and the Abel Tasman?
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