Discover - Nelson Tasman and Marlborough
Stunning natural landscapes, inspiring arts and delectable artisan produce await you in extraordinary Nelson Tasman. Three national parks provide plenty of opportunities to enjoy the pristine coastline, lush native bush and snow-capped mountains in the year-round sunny weather.
Renowned for its stunning golden sands, sweeping granite coastline, lush native bush and crystal-clear waters, a visit to the Abel Tasman National Park is a must-do on any travellers itinerary. What's more, this pristine paradise can be explored in your own way, and at your own pace. So, whether you fancy a multi-day hike along the spectacular Abel Tasman Coastal Track, or if a short scenic cruise or kayak is more your style, you'll find something to suit your interests here. And, if you just can't get enough, you can even spend the night in the midst of the park at the Tōtaranui Campground next to the clear waters and golden sands of Tōtaranui beach at the northern end of the Abel Tasman National Park.
A network of leisurely cycle trails and mountain-bike parks dissect the Nelson Tasman region, each offering new sights, sounds and experiences for those who choose to explore them. Whether it's the panoramic vistas from the top of the Dun Mountain Trail, the lush native forest canopy that shelters the Wairoa Gorge mountain-bike park, or the spectacular coastal scenery of Tasman's Great Taste Trail, there are endless discoveries to be made. The Great Taste Trail holds the title as one of New Zealand's Great Rides, and can be broken down into smaller sections suitable for families or leisurely riders.
Golden Bay is home to some of the Nelson Tasman region's most stunning natural landscapes, and we guarantee that what lay on the other side of the Takaka Hill is well worth the short drive to get there. From a short trek over farmland to reach the wild and wonderful Wharariki Beach, to a guided nature tour along the majestic length of Farewell Spit, to viewing some of the clearest water ever measured at Te Waikoropupu Springs, the adventures to be had here are endless.
The Nelson Lakes National Park is truly picture perfect all year round, whether basking under the warm Autumn sun, or flaunting a fresh coating of snowfall in Winter. The National Park can be accessed from the alpine village of St Arnaud, where nestled amongst undulating mountains lay 16 glacial lakes just waiting to be discovered. The most popular (and most accessible) lake is Lake Rotoiti, offering a range of leisurely lakeside walks through forest alive with birdsong. As the enchanting calls of tuis and bellbirds echo through the treetops, day walkers will be treated to the spectacular scenery and wonderful waterfalls that this little pocket of paradise is renowned for.
The drive to Murchison from Nelson City is a must-do for anyone who loves a dose of adventure. The Murchison ‘four rivers plain’ offers some of the best all-grades white-water rafting in New Zealand, world-class fly fishing and an unforgettable jetboating experience through the Buller Canyon.
Nelson Tasman is home to one of the largest numbers of working artists and galleries in the country, and art in every form is represented here. From painters, sculptors, glass-blowers, jewellers, writers and creators, it is easy to see the depth of passion for the arts in the region. Visit a local market, gallery or studio and buy a unique gift directly from the artist who made it.
Due to its perfect growing conditions, Nelson Tasman is the home of all of New Zealand's hops, and to the South Island’s first commercial winery. It's also the craft brewing capital of the country, and has been named the Top Cider City in the world by National Geographic.
The Marlborough region is about world-famous Sauvignon Blanc, delicious fresh seafood and diverse landscapes, from valleys of vines to sheltered waterways.
With 84% of the country’s sauvignon blanc plantings, Marlborough is New Zealand’s (some say the world’s) sauvignon blanc capital. With robust aromas and crisp flavours of gooseberry and capsicum, this varietal has been a glittering success for New Zealand.
The region’s second VIP grape is pinot noir. Acclaim is mounting for Marlborough’s fragrant, mouth-filling reds which are richly flavoured and supple. Other Marlborough wine specialties include fresh, vibrantly fruity chardonnays and crisp rieslings.
Scores of vineyards rub shoulders along the Wairau and Awatere Valleys. These vast flat areas are ideal for a gentle gourmet cycle tour. From the small township of Renwick, there are 30 great wineries within a 24 kilometre circuit.
As far as unique New Zealand experiences go, swimming with dolphins in the Marlborough Sounds is definitely one of them. Set amid the spectacular scenery guides will take you on a search for the five different species of dolphins found in this area, and it is up to you whether you enjoy dolphin spotting from the boat, or take a dip into the water for a personal encounter.
If you are travelling between the North and South islands, cruising on the InterIslander or Bluebridge ferry across Cook Strait provides outstanding opportunities to view dramatic scenery and unique wildlife. It is the perfect way to experience the Marlborough Sounds, so make sure to book a crossing while the sun is out.
If you’re close to Blenheim, place the Wither Hills Farm Park walk on your list of things to do. It passes through a working farm and offers impressive views of the Richmond Ranges and Wairau Valley. See Blenheim from another angle too.
If you’re close to Picton, set aside some time for walking the Snout Track. It ascends to a lookout with views of the spectacular Queen Charlotte Sound.
Halfway between Blenheim and Nelson, where a bridge crosses the Pelorus River, there is an enchanting scenic reserve that is a great starting point for easy walks through forest glades. For something a little more adventurous, choose the track that leads to a waterfall and rock pool, or walk up along a ridge to a 417 metre peak. You'll also find a little bit of Middle‑earth magic in this area. Peter Jackson chose Pelorus Bridge as a filming location for scenes from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.