The Best Nelson Tasman Activities & Attractions 

The Nelson Tasman region offers some of the most sensational coastal landscapes you will see in New Zealand’s South Island. With its charming towns and overload of outdoor adventures, Nelson Tasman is an unbeatable holiday destination. It’s also one of our favourite areas in New Zealand. So keep reading, and we will share with you the best Nelson Tasman activities & attractions and our favourite things to do in Nelson Tasman region.

Golden sands and blue water of Kaiteriteri Beach
Kaiteriteri Beach

What is Nelson Tasman Known For?

Blue water of Tasman Bay and Split Apple Rock in distance
Split Apple Rock

Nelson Tasman is best known for its incredible national parks, golden beaches, vibrant arts and crafts scene, and thriving agriculture and vineyards. 

The best Nelson Tasman activities & attractions include some of the most alluring natural wonders of the South Island. 

Nelson is also well-known among New Zealanders for its abundance of sunshine hours.

Getting to the Nelson Tasman Region

Located at the northwestern tip of the South Island, the Nelson Tasman region is easily accessible by both road and air. 

Most travellers in the region will start their adventures in the city of Nelson. Which, incidentally, is also the geographical centre of New Zealand. 

The nearest major airport is Nelson Airport, which offers regular domestic flights from major cities in New Zealand. 

You can reach Nelson from Christchurch in 5 hours if you prefer a scenic drive.

If you’re arriving from North Island into South Island’s Picton, you can reach Nelson in 2 hours on a scenic road trip through the lush and dazzling Marlborough Sounds. 

Buses service Nelson from most towns on the South Island.

Prominent Landmarks in Nelson Tasman

Male hiker walking at the start of the Abel Tasman track
Start of the Abel Tasman Track

Christ Church Cathedral, Nelson

The Nelson Cathedral, located in the heart of the city, is a captivating architectural gem. 

The grandeur of its design and intricate stained glass windows make it a must-visit historic landmark. 

Tahunanui Beach

Tahunanui Beach, a popular spot among locals and visitors alike, stretches along the coast just west of Nelson. 

Its long stretch of golden sand and crystal-clear waters invite you to relax, swim, or stroll along the shoreline. 

The beach is near cafes and eateries, so if you are there in the evening, make sure to catch a glorious sunset over Tasman Bay.

Abel Tasman National Park

The crown jewel of the Tasman region, the Abel Tasman National Park, is a paradise for outdoor lovers. It is one of the most visited national parks in New Zealand.

With its crystal-clear turquoise waters, secluded coves, and lush native forests, it’s no wonder this park is on everyone’s South Island bucket list!

You will find some of the best nature-based Nelson Tasman activities in the Abel Tasman National Park. This includes walking trails, kayaking along the coastline or relaxing at pristine beaches. 

Farewell Spit

At the northernmost point of the South Island, you’ll find Farewell Spit, a natural wonder stretching over 35 kilometres. This unique sandbar is home to diverse bird species and boasts stunning dune formations. 

If you love getting off the beaten path, take a guided tour to learn about the area’s ecological significance and admire the panoramic views from the top of the dunes.

Nelson Tasman Towns and Villages to Visit 

Buildings in Mapua village
Mapua village


The vibrant city of Nelson is known for its artistic culture, boutique shops, and lively café scene. 

Stroll through the charming streets, visit the local galleries, and enjoy coffee in one of the cozy cafés. 

If you love markets, visit the lively Nelson Market, on every Saturday, where you can find an array of locally produced goods and delectable treats.

It’s one of our favourite markets on the South Island for the fresh produce by local farmers and the variety of delicious international food to eat on the day.


Nestled on the coast, Mapua is a picturesque village with a beautiful harbour, bustling craft shops, and waterfront dining.

What we love most about Mapua is the variety of dining options available. You can enjoy a glass of wine at the wine bar, grab a burger from the brewery, or indulge in a five-star dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants. Alternatively, you can opt for a classic fish and chips takeaway meal and eat it on the benches by the water’s edge.

Additionally, there are art studios and craft shops to browse in, or you can just soak up the laid-back coastal ambience. 

Read more about Mapua.


Located close to the Abel Tasman National Park, Motueka is a lively town surrounded by fertile farmland and stunning natural beauty. 

Motueka boasts a lively cafe and restaurant scene. Also, in season, you can drive around to the local farms to get freshly grown fruits and vegetables straight from the source. Which we absolutely love doing!

Though mostly, we love the artistic and laid-back vibe of Motueka. 

One of the best places to get a taste of this vibe is Motueka Sunday Market, where you can find locally sourced produce, handcrafted items, and homemade goodies. 


We consider the 50 km drive from Motueka to Takaka through the winding steep mountain pass among the most thrilling Nelson Tasman activities.

Situated at the heart of Golden Bay, Takaka is a quirky and eclectic town known for its alternative lifestyle and artistic community.

You can spend your days exploring the vibrant galleries and boutiques, sampling local artisan products at the Takaka Village Market, and visiting beautiful beaches in the area.

However, the absolute best of the Nelson Tasman attractions is the magical Te Waikoropupu Springs (its a short drive from Takaka.) It’s reputed to be one of the clearest freshwater springs in the world. We defineitley agree! It’s the most pristine spring we have ever seen!

Nelson Tasman Activities & Things to Do

Wainui Falls waterfall and pool
Wainui Falls, Golden Bay

Nelson Lakes National Park

Nestled in the Southern Alps, Nelson Lakes National Park offers a dramatic alpine landscape of mountains, lakes, and rugged wilderness. 

You can choose to explore the network of hiking trails, go fishing in the crystal-clear lakes, or immerse yourself in the tranquillity of this untouched natural paradise.

Kaiteriteri Beach

Kaiteriteri Beach has been voted one of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand. 

It’s easy to see why, with its golden sands and clear turquoise waters, it’s the perfect spot for swimming, kayaking, or lazing on the beach. 

You can also take scenic cruises to explore the coastline and discover hidden bays.

Some of our favourite Nelson Tasman activities include walking along the beach at Kaiteriteri and admiring the stunning water views.

Whether we’ve come to Kaiteriteri in the summer or the winter, the beach never disappoints.

Abel Tasman Coastal Track

One of New Zealand’s most famous walks, the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is an extraordinary multi-day hike.

This 60-kilometre trail takes you through the pristine coastal forests, past secluded beaches, and offers stunning views of the sparkling ocean. 

The best thing about the trail is that you can complete the entire track or just a small section of it. 

Moreover, instead of hiking back to the starting point, you can hike in and have a water taxi pick you up at the end, taking you back to your base.

Golden Bay

A little off the beaten track, venture to Golden Bay if you don’t want to miss out on some of the most stunning beach landscapes on the South Island.

Start your journey from the charming town of Takaka before exploring the quaint towns of Collingwood and Pohara, and then embark on unforgettable Nelson Tasman activities. 

A haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, there are waterfalls, springs, rock formations, towering sand dunes and much more to explore.

Visit Founders Heritage Park

Step back in time and explore the living history at Founders Heritage Park. 

This open-air museum showcases the region’s early European settlement with restored historic buildings, vintage machinery, and interactive exhibits. 

Wine Tasting in the Moutere Hills

Indulge in the region’s thriving wine scene by visiting the vineyards of the Moutere Hills. 

Taking a leisurely drive through the picturesque countryside and sampling world-class wines at the cellar doors is one of those do not miss Nelson Tasman Activities for wine connoisseurs.

Explore the World of WearableArt and Classic Cars Museum

Delve into the world of wearable art and classic cars at this unique museum in Nelson and marvel at the stunning and imaginative wearable art designs that have made the World of WearableArt competition famous worldwide. 

Additionally, explore the collection of classic cars, showcasing the beauty and evolution of automotive craftsmanship.

The Great Taste Trail

The Tasman’s Great Taste Trail is a popular cycling and walking trail in the Nelson Tasman region. It is part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail network and offers a scenic and leisurely way to explore the region’s stunning landscapes, local culture, and delicious food and drinks.

The 175 km trail winds its way through the picturesque Tasman Bay coastline and the beautiful countryside of the Tasman District, including visiting charming coastal villages, experiencing stunning coastal views, passing through vineyards, orchards, and farmland, and exploring lush forests. 

You can complete the trail in segments as a point-to-point day trip or as a multi-day loop. The terrain is mostly flat, ensuring most individuals a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Take a Scenic Drive to Cable Bay

Embark on a scenic drive along the stunning coastal road to Cable Bay. 

Enjoy breathtaking views of the coastline as you wind your way through picturesque landscapes. Once you reach Cable Bay, take a leisurely walk along the beach, enjoy a picnic with a view, or dip your toes in the refreshing waters. It’s a tranquil spot to unwind and connect with nature.

the clearest blue waters of Te Waikoropupu Springs
Te Waikoropupu Springs – the absolute best of the Nelson Tasman activities & attractions

Special Events & Festive Nelson Tasman Activities

Nelson Arts Festival

The annual Nelson Arts Festival celebrates the region’s vibrant arts and culture scene. 

Held in October, the 11-day festival showcases various performances, including music, theatre, dance, and visual arts. 

Immerse yourself in the creative energy of Nelson as the city comes alive with artistic talent from both local and international artists.

Taste Tasman Beer, Cider & Food Festival

Taste Tasman Festival, held in January, is for all the foodies.

Explore the plethora of Nelson Tasman activities during this culinary event, which celebrates the region’s gastronomic delights, featuring local food producers, wineries, and craft breweries. 

The Nelson Tasman region is particularly known for its exceptional cider, and the festival’s highlight is the availability of over 100 cider varieties.

There’s live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and an opportunity to sample the region’s best flavours. 

Nelson Kite Festival

If you’re visiting Nelson in January, don’t miss the annual Nelson Kite Festival. 

Held at the picturesque Neale Park, this family-friendly event features colourful kites of all shapes and sizes, filling the sky. 

Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, fly your own kite, or marvel at the artistic displays soaring above. It’s a spectacle that delights visitors of all ages.

Is Nelson NZ worth visiting?

Female walking on sand dunes at Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay.
Wharariki Beach NZ

We are surprised you need to ask. As you can see, Nelson offers plenty for the adventure seeker, art enthusiast, nature lover or food lover.

From stunning natural beauty to thriving arts and culinary scenes, Nelson Tasman activities and attractions are a treasure trove of adventures and scenic views. 

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