Nelson Tasman Region of New Zealand

Nelson-Tasman is a region located at the northwestern tip of the South Island of New Zealand, and encompasses the Tasman District and Nelson City. It is known for its sunny climate, beautiful golden beaches, vast National Parks and thriving Arts and Crafts Scene! It is a region that offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages and interests.

Best things to Do in the Nelson-Tasman Region of New Zealand,

An Overview of the Nelson-Tasman Region

Nelson-Tasman Location:North-West of the South Island
Bordering Regions:West Coast, Marlborough and Canterbury
Region Size (km2):10,812 km2
Population:108,300 (as of June 2020)
Main Cities and Towns:Nelson, Motueka, Kaiteriteri, Takaka
Most Popular Tourist Destinations:Abel Tasman National Park, Golden Bay, Nelson Lakes National Park, Kahurangi National Park, Nelson City

Highlights of the Nelson-Tasman Region

The National Parks of the Nelson-Tasman Region

Abel Tasman National Park: A Coastal Paradise

Abel Tasman National Park is the smallest but most popular national park in New Zealand. It covers an area of 225 square kilometres and offers stunning coastal scenery, crystal-clear blue water, native wildlife and a variety of activities!

One of the most popular ways to explore this stunning National Park is to hike the Abel Tasman Coast Track, which is one of the Great Walks of New Zealand and takes about three to five days to complete! The track follows the iconic coastline, passing through golden sand beaches, native forests, waterfalls and estuaries. You can stay at the campsites or huts along the way, or even explore it via kayak!

Nelson Lakes National Park

Nelson Lakes National Park is located at the northern end of the Southern Alps, only a few hours from the major city of Nelson! The park is centered around two stunning glacial lakes, Rotoiti and Rotoroa, which are surrounded by beech forests, snow-capped mountains and streams. The park is a popular destination for hiking, kayaking, fishing and skiing, as well as enjoying the stunning views and wildlife. 

Kahurangi National Park

Kahurangi National Park is the second-largest national park in New Zealand, covering over 4,500 square kilometers of lush native bush and stunning landscapes. It is located in the northwest corner of the South Island, and spans across the Nelson-Tasman and West Coast regions.

This park is home to the Heaphy Track, one of the most popular hiking trails, which begins in Golden Bay and finishes along the wild West Coast! It is also where you can find the Oparara Basin, where you can explore the largest and most complex limestone cave system in New Zealand.

Golden Bay and Farewell Spit

Just over the Takaka Hill from Kaiteriteri is the magnificent Golden Bay! This large, shallow bay is located in the northwestern corner of the South Island, separated from the Tasman Sea by Farewell Spit, the longest natural sandspit in the country! There are lots of things to do in Golden Bay, whether you are interested in natural attractions, rich history, or experiencing the local culture.

Farewell Spit

Farewell Spit is a narrow sand spit at the northern end of Golden Bay, and is the longest sand spit in New Zealand! It is a legally protected nature reserve, and is known for its incredible bird-populations.  You can visit the spit by 4WD tours, as well as visit the historic lighthouse and bird sanctuary. 

Wharariki Beach

Wharariki Beach is a spectacular beach in Golden Bay, famous for its huge sand dunes, dramatic rock formations, and playful seal colony! There are several walks in the area, including one to Cape Farewell – the northernmost point of the South Island of New Zealand!


Takaka is the largest town and the gateway to Golden Bay, and is known for its vibrant and artistic community! It is filled with fantastic cafes, shops, and art galleries, and is awesome for an explore. It is close to nearby attractions, such as the incredible Te Waikoropupu Springs, the Ngarua Caves, and the stunning Tata Beach.

Nelson City

Nelson is a sunny city found along the eastern shores of Tasman Bay, and is the main city of the Nelson-Tasman region! It is the oldest city in the South Island, founded in 1841, and is named after Admiral Horatio Nelson, who defeated the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Nelson has a rich and diverse culture, with a large number of artists and incredible galleries throughout the city! It is also surrounded by stunning landscapes, from golden beaches and turquoise waters to beautiful vineyards.

The Arts and Crafts Scene in Nelson

Nelson is known for its thriving arts and crafts scene, which is influenced by the sunny climate, the incredible surrounding landscapes, and its creative community. One of the best ways to experience the arts and crafts scene in Nelson is by visiting the Nelson Market, which is held every Saturday and showcases the local produce, crafts and artworks. Nelson is also home to the Suter Art Gallery, which is the oldest art gallery in the South Island and exhibits the works of local and national artists.

Nelson Arts and Crafts, Market, Nelson-Tasman Region, New Zealand

The Nelson Wine Trail

The Nelson-Tasman region produces some of the finest wines in New Zealand, especially the Sauvignon Blanc variety. It is a region that has a long and rich history of wine-making, dating all the way back to the 19th century!

One of the best ways to experience the incredible wineries in the Nelson-Tasman region is by following the Nelson Wine Trail, which is a cycling trail around some of the best wineries in the region! You can sample the different varieties of wine, and learn about the wine-making process and the history of the vineyards.

Nelson Wine Trail, New Zealand

Craft Brewing Capital of New Zealand

Nelson is known as the ‘Craft Brewing Capital of New Zealand‘ due to its number of incredible craft breweries and pubs! Visiting one of the best breweries in Nelson and trying a cold beer (or two) is an awesome way to experience the flavors of the Nelson-Tasman region!

Nelsons best breweries, Nelson Tasman Region New Zealand

Nelson-Tasman Weather

Nelson-Tasman is the sunniest region in New Zealand, with an average of over 2,400 hours of sunshine per year! The warmest months are December to March, with average highs of 22°C and lows of 13°C, while the coolest months are June to August, with average highs of 13°C and lows of 3°C. The region has a moderate rainfall of about 970 mm per year, with most of it falling in Winter and Spring.

Weather in the Nelson-Tasman region by month infographic

What is the Best Time to Visit the Nelson-Tasman Region?

The best time to Visit the Nelson-Tasman region is during the Summer and early Autumn months (December – March). During this time, you can expect sunny weather with little rain – perfect for swimming and kayaking, or hiking through the stunning national parks. The summer months are the peak tourist season, so if you are looking for a slightly quieter experience, then the months of February and March are ideal!

What is the Best Time to hike the Abel Tasman Track?

The Abel Tasman Track can be hiked year-round, and is a stunning experience no matter what time you go! The best time to hike the Abel Tasman Track is during late summer (February – March), while the weather is still warm, there is little rain, and the track is less busy! Please read about our experience hiking the Abel Tasman Track here!

Airports in the Nelson-Tasman Region

Nelson Airport

Nelson Airport is the main domestic airport in the Nelson-Tasman region! It offers flights to and from Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston North, Hamilton, and Blenheim, operated by Air New Zealand and Sounds Air. This airport is the best place to fly if you want to explore the stunning Nelson-Tasman region, Nelson City, or the Abel Tasman National Park.

Takaka Airport

Takaka Airport is a small airfield in Golden Bay, close to the town of Takaka. The airport offers scheduled flights to and from Wellington, Nelson, and Karamea, operated by Golden Bay Air, up to four times a day in summer and once or twice a day in winter. The airport is also a gateway to the remote and spectacular landscapes of the area, such as the Farewell Spit, the Wharariki Beach, and the Heaphy Track.