If you’re visiting New Zealand’s South Island, be sure to visit the picturesque Nelson-Tasman Region. Established by English settlers in 1841, the city of Nelson faces Tasman Bay, and is now home to many artists and craftsmen. There are plenty of interesting things to do in Nelson, and you can enjoy some great walks, go caving, fishing and swimming, or dine on world renowned food and local wines. To get you started, here are five great attractions to experience when you visit Nelson.
1. The Abel Tasman National Park
The Abel Tasman National Park was established in 1942, and while it is the smallest national park in New Zealand, it still offers over 22,000-hectares of stunning wilderness. If you have several days available take the Coastal track where you can appreciate the parks magnificent golden sand beaches and the impressive rocky outcrops. For more advanced trampers, the Gibbs Hill, and Inland tracks offer unparalleled views and the opportunity to spot local wildlife. For a less strenuous excursion, the Harwoods Hole Track is an easy 45-minute walk which ends at a huge hole, which is in fact the deepest vertical shaft in the country. Or take a gentle ½- hour stroll along the Wainui Falls Track which will bring you to the largest waterfall in Golden Bay.
2. The Nelson Lakes National Park
The Nelson Lakes National Park also offers some great walking opportunities, from 15-minute strolls that everyone can manage, up to 5-day tramping tracks with an alpine crossing of extreme difficulty and only suitable for veteran hikers. The most popular walks are around Lake Rotoiti (little lake) and Lake Rotoroa (long lake), which offer peaceful landscapes, waterfalls and perfect picnic spots, making them both favourite Nelson attractions. The red, silver, and mountain beech forests are home to many birds, including the Great Spotted Kiwi which was reintroduced into the area. During your time in the Nelson Lakes National Park you may be fortunate enough to spot the elusive Kaka, or at least to hear this forest parrot’s distinctive raucous call.
3. Boulder Park
One of the most spectacular, but lesser known Nelson points of interest is the Boulder Bank. The bank is 13-km long and between 55-240-metres wide, and was formed by oceanic movement of fallen debris from the Mackay bluffs more than 10,000 years ago. The last 8-km are a natural boulder spit which separates Nelson Haven from Tasman Bay. To walk the entire length and back takes about 4-6-hours, but you can go as far as you feel like enjoying the barren landscape and the blustery sea. Wrap up, as it’s rather exposed, and wear strong shoes as the bank is rough and dry, but this is one of the most invigorating Nelson activities, and not to be missed.
4. Centre of New Zealand Walk
A rather less challenging, but nonetheless impressive walk, starts out from a place of unique National significance. The Centre of New Zealand walk begins at the site where the first game of rugby ever to be played in New Zealand took place in May of 1870. From there the track rises, fairly steeply in places, up Botanical Hill and it takes 30-40-muntes to reach the top. From here you will be rewarded with a stunning view, and the information board will help you to identify interesting places in the Nelson region. There are several different routes, which are all well signposted, if you want to take a different descent.
5. The Sunny Climate
There are many things to do in Nelson, and most of them can be enjoyed at any time of year as this area enjoys a sunny, Mediterranean climate. With comfortably warm summers, mild winters and an evenly distributed rainfall, the temperate oceanic climate of Nelson makes it a great year-round destination. Each of the four seasons has its own features, and while storms and gales do occur during the winter there are plenty of interesting indoor Nelson attractions which can be visited.
Angela Hallberg is Marketing Manager for Omega Rental Cars, one of New Zealand’s most trusted car hire companies. With a passion for travel, and years spent in the New Zealand tourism industry as a travel agent, tour organiser and incentive travel specialist, she loves to help others discover all the best things to see and do in her home country. Sharing local knowledge, feedback from Omega Rental Cars customers, and actively seeking information on activities and attractions, Angela can help you plan an itinerary to maximise your time in New Zealand.