Top 10 Things to do in Nelson Tasman:
This is one picture-perfect location that will make all of your Instagram friends more than a little jealous. However you choose to explore this national park, whether by land, kayak, scenic cruise, water taxi or catamaran, you’ll encounter lush native rainforests and birds that cascade through lagoons, golden sand beaches, and crystal-clear water. With the highest number of sunshine hours in the country, this is one location you don’t want to miss.
This sun-kissed town is the golden gateway between two of New Zealand’s most beautiful national parks, Abel Tasman and Kahurangi. Known for its lively cafe culture, artistic community, and hippie vibes, this is one kiwi town that you won’t want to leave. Visit the saltwater baths located on the foreshore, or take the plunge and book yourself the ultimate backpacker experience - the one and only Skydive. Both will leave you wanting more - trust us!
3. Go to Golden Bay
The name itself is pretty self-explanatory. This small township located on the most northern tip of the South Island boasts golden beaches, lush forests, and small-town friendly culture. The 2-hour-ish journey will take you over Takaka Hill, traversing simultaneously rugged and beautiful terrain. You may wonder where on earth you are, but there is only one road in and out of Golden Bay, so just keep driving - you will get there eventually!
Not just for car-lovers, this museum boasts more than 150 iconic cars from more than 100 years in the making. From Cadillacs to Ferraris, this impressive museum will transport you back in time. If you’d rather sit this one out while your spouse has a peruse, why not have a coffee at Little Engine Eatery while you wait. Their wholesome and nourishing food hits the spot, so you have more energy to keep exploring.
5. Go Whitewater Rafting in Murchison
An hour and a half south-west of Nelson lies the historic gold rush town of Murchison. Known as the ‘whitewater’ capital of the country, there are quite literally rivers everywhere, including an array of whitewater activities such as kayaking and rafting. This is one adrenaline-filled adventure that is a crucial part of the New Zealand backpacking experience. Make sure you bring a spare change of clothes - you are going to get wet!
Nelson Lakes National Park provides the backdrop to the start of the awe-inspiring Southern Alps. With 16 alpine lakes surrounded by a backdrop of steep mountains and honeydew beech forests, walking and hiking are one of the main reasons to visit this park. There are trails for people of all ages and abilities, whether you have a couple of hours or a few days to spare. This stunning scenery will leave you breathless, no matter how long your walk is.
7. Discover Local Art
Nelson Tasman is an art-lovers paradise, home to some of the best artists and galleries in the country. You can find every type of art form in this region, from jewellers, to writers, to painters and glass-blowers. Buy directly from the artist or visit one of the galleries along the main drag in downtown Nelson. Either way, the depth of their passion will be obvious, and with this natural landscape as their muse, whose creative side wouldn’t be ignited?
8. Cycle Tasman Great Taste Trail
This leisurely cycle trail can be done in sections or as a whole, looping through the Tasman region's picturesque countryside. Dotted with galleries, wineries, craft breweries and boutique local stores, you can stop along the way to devour what this region has to offer. With multiple access points and options, you decide what works best for you. What more could you ask for?
9. Browse the Local Markets
The markets in this region are second to none, offering artisan food, coffee, local art, fruit and veg stalls, and food carts. Head to the bustling weekend markets in Motueka, Takaka, and Nelson, or the Farmers Market on Wednesday on Kirby Lane. This is one must-do backpacking experience, connecting you with locals and seeing the best of what this region has to offer.
10. Go Caving
The Nelson Tasman region offers an entire network of caves. Take a guided tour to see the stunning phytokarst formations and twilight zone flora at Rawhiti Caves, or see stalagmites and ancient moa bones at the Ngarua Caves. Whichever cave you visit, these guided tours provide you with the rich history and culture behind their formations, as well as a thrilling adventure on your backpacking itinerary.