At the centre of New Zealand lies the stunning landscape that makes up the Nelson/Golden Bay area. There are many natural wonders around here – Abel Tasman National Park feels like a paradise out of this world. The area attracts both adventurers and those after a relaxing break. Here’s our insider’s guide to the area to make sure you get the most out of your stay.
High sunshine hours, adventure activities, world-class wineries and great food are all great reasons why visitors flock to Nelson year-round. Here’s our favourite activities to do in the area.
A number of mountain biking tracks for all experience levels weave themselves around the Tantragee Saddle in Nelson. The Nelson Mountain Biking Club and the Nelson Government website have a lot of useful information on the tracks before you visit, including maps, tips and entertaining videos. If you’re travelling without your bike, there are plenty of rental businesses around Nelson such as Gravity Nelson that will help you get going.
Around the Moruete Hills and the Waimera Plains you’ll find some of the best wine New Zealand has to offer. Take a tour or stumble through it solo, either way it’ll be an excellent way to spend the afternoon. One of our favourite wineries is Fossil Ridge. Sit yourselves on their sun-filled veranda with a selection of their boutique wines for a scenic tasting. For a full list of wineries and vineyards, visit Wine Nelson.
A morning is well spent at the famous Nelson Market. Here, you can find a range of locally made art, food and jewellery in the heart of Nelson City. Local to this market is the New Zealand famous Pic’s Peanut Butter, who have a regular stall. Grab a coffee, wander around and find yourselves a hidden treasure (or just eat enough to last you until dinner).
For a family day out, visit Nelson’s Natureland Zoo. They have a mix of exotic and native animals of a mostly small size. Natureland Zoo also offer a conservation programme to protect those endangered native species. The kids will love the walk through aviary and the domestic farmyard open enclosures!
The Horoirangi Marine Reserve is an excellent location for snorkelling, diving, kayaking or just looking around the rock pools. You’ll find all sorts of wonderful sea creatures here, including octopi, rare-looking starfish and a number of fish swimming above. Getting here is just a 12 km drive from Nelson.
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Abel Tasman National Park
The Abel Tasman National Park is just up the coast from Nelson. It offers an endless number of nature walks and activities for those that want to get really stuck into nature. Drive up here for a day of exploring, or spend your whole holiday immersed in this beautiful scenery. Here’s a few of our favourite tracks and activities to fill your days in this paradise.
If you’re really seeking some adventure, take the 4 day trek along the Abel Tasman coast. You’ll go across high suspension bridges, along beautiful golden sand, and you might even bump into the odd fur seal or two! You’ll also get to discover Cleopatra’s Pool, a stunning fresh-water rock pool complete with natural waterslide. For a day trip, water taxis operate in the area, dropping visitors off at different points along the track.
The Medlands Beach Walk is a great option for a day hike. You’ll still get to visit the stunning Cleopatra’s Pool for some swimming and sliding, except this time you’ll only be walking for 4 hours. This coastal track will take you through native bush as well, and you’ll get to cross the bridge over the spectacular Falls River.
Ditch the walking tracks and explore the Abel Tasman Coast via. Kayak. You can do this on a guided kayak tour or you can just rent your own kayak and roam free. We recommend taking the half-day trip out to split rock, it’s an excellent photo opportunity and the kayak journey there isn’t too strenuous!
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A beautiful crescent of golden sand, Golden Bay is a great location to catch some sun, relax on the beach and casually visit some natural wonders. Here are a few points of interest that you might want to add to your itinerary.
The Te Waikoropupu Springs are a popular scenic location in the Takawa Valley. You’ll go on a small boardwalk which will take you past the different springs, leaving you plenty of time and room for photo opportunities. The Springs are held in high cultural and spiritual regard to local Maori. As a result, they are respected and maintained with a ban on any contact activity such as swimming or fishing.
Another scenic treat is the limestone maze at the Grove Scenic Reserve. It’s a short walk (20 minutes one way), and you’ll be taken through naturally carved limestone and beautiful rata trees. You’ll be absolutely dwarfed by the limestone walls, making it a true wonder and a great photo opportunity.
Golden Bay has a large number of beaches and beach-side towns. Pohara is one of the most popular family holiday beaches, being some of New Zealand’s safest swimming spots. Tata beach has deeper water and a backdrop of lush mountains. Kaiteriteri beach is another favourite. It’s a great spot for walks in the Abel Tasman National Park and also a great stretch of sand – the best of both worlds!
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Over to you…
Do you have any favourite spots or activities in the Nelson/Golden Bay area? Let us know by leaving a comment!
Featured properties in the Nelson/Golden Bay Area
This architecturally designed Kaiteriteri home offers a private and peaceful location for a refreshing break away! Set across 4 levels, with open plan living on the first level, the living area is warm and bright, and leads onto covered decking for BBQ’s in the sun with spectacular sea views! For cooler stays, the fireplace keeps you toasty. View the full listing here.
This Nelson holiday house includes spacious and well appointed living across 3 levels in the main house. Everything you need for a relaxed and refreshing escape is on hand, including easy indoor/outdoor flow onto decks from each level. Fire up the BBQ for cruisy holiday dining, or simply sit back and admire the scenery! View the full listing here.