From the thriving art scene of Nelson, to the country’s smallest national park, this region has a lot to offer

New Zealand’s sunniest region has a diverse geography ripe for exploring from golden sand beaches to dense forests, the clearest fresh water lake in the world and secluded, enticing rivers. At the heart of it all is a creative, easy-going city deemed one of New Zealand’s most liveable.

The area boasts a thriving art scene with galleries and stalls to explore throughout Nelson city. Each weekend one of the country’s best markets is held just off the main street, selling everything from freshly picked cherries in summer, wood crafts, regional wines, fresh produce, vintage ware, every cuisine you can imagine and sublime coffee. It’s well worth a visit to get a taste of the laidback life lead by Nelsonians.

The region’s biggest attraction is the Abel Tasman National Park, the country’s smallest national park that frequents the front pages of tourist brochures with its dream-like golden sand beaches, emerald green waters and friendly fur seal population. Hike, boat or kayak into one of its many beaches and coves. The main gateways to the park are the small seaside town of Kaiteriteri which has boomed with extravagant houses of the rich and famous and the more rustic, low-key settlement Marahau.

While the Abel Tasman is the star of the region, Nelson area offers endless outdoor pursuits from swimming or fly fishing in its numerous and secluded rivers, to excellent hiking trails particularly in Nelson Lakes where you can head in over several days to reach what has recently been recognised as the clearest freshwater in the world at the Blue Lake.

Enjoy some of the best beaches New Zealand has to offer. Sea kayak in the crystal clear waters of the Abel Tasman to one of the many hidden bays and coves. Gaze at sea lions sunbathing on the rocks and finish the day relaxing on golden sandy beaches.

Our favourite places to stay in Nelson and Abel Tasman