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3 Day itineraries Nelson Tasman

Published: 04/09/2014 by Nelson Tasman Tourism

The Best of the Best

Day 1 – Nelson City Highlights
If you're an early riser who likes to get your morning exercise, head to the Centre of New Zealand. This hilltop lookout was starting point for the original trigonometrical surveys of the South Island. A well-graded path winds gently up the hill to spectacular lookout over Nelson city and Tasman Bay. About 45-minutes return.

On a Saturday morning, be sure to visit the market. Held in a car-park covering a full city block, the market is teaming with locals and visitors alike, prowling the lanes for jewellery, art, craft, designer clothing, and local artisan produce. Join the throngs, grab a coffee or smoothie, and breakfast on French crepes, Dutch Olliebollen (doughnuts), or an authentic German sausage in a bun.

A trio of local art studios/galleries are clustered around the art deco Christ Church Cathedral standing guard over the city with its striking marble steps: Jens Hansen Jeweller was the creator of the Lord of the Rings' "One Ring". This is a small family business with contemporary designs crafted on-site. Flame Daisy is next door, producing stunning art glass pieces with a definite New Zealand feel.

Just around the corner at South Street Pottery is a selection of work by the region’s many potters. Historic South Street with its cute working-men cottages paints a picture of what life was like in colonial Nelson. Pick up a copy of the souvenir Nelson Art Guide for $15 to guide you. You will use it throughout your visit in the region, and it will make a lasting memento. Grab a bite to eat at one of many cafés in the brick paved area under the cathedral steps. Flowering baskets hang from the eaves above creating colour as you dine alfresco among the workers and shoppers.

Or, lunch at an organic brewery in historic Founders Park, with its replica historic village containing many of the old historic buildings in the 1880s to 1930s surrounded by character streets and tranquil established gardens.

Enjoy a garden lunch at the brewery café, with a pint of your local favourite, and afterwards treat yourself to the delights of the L'Artisan Bakery and Kerstiens Chocolates. Spend the afternoon with the sea breeze, sailing on the Nelson Haven. See the working port, fishing boats and marina from the water.

Discover the unique naturally made Boulder Bank and Historic Lighthouse. Climb to the top of the lighthouse and enjoy the fantastic views.
Head north from the city to Cable Bay, named after the communication cable that once connected Nelson to the rest of the world. Stop off at Happy Valley Adventures, for quad bike action through native forest trails to a summit overlooking Delaware Bay and beyond to the Marlborough Sounds.

At the summit, ride the Skywire, a 4-person carriage suspended by a cable spanning 1.6km over a valley of native bush, and reaching speeds of up to 90km/hour. Continue along the road to Cable Bay Beach. This is the start of Cable Bay Walkway, a 3 ½ hour walk offering wonderful coastal views.

Transport is required at the other end to return you to your car at Cable Bay. Reward your efforts at the charming Cable Bay Café which was the tea rooms in 1920.  Dine on the waterfront in Nelson’s iconic Boatshed Café, with its rustic interior sitting out over the water. A menu fitting of the region’s abundance of succulent seafood is accompanied by local wines, which will have you lingering late into the evening.
Day 2 – Explore the Natural Wonders of the Abel Tasman National Park 
An early start today will be well-rewarded. The Abel Tasman National Park provides a lot to explore, and you can do it on foot, along the gentle and well-graded Abel Tasman Coast Track. Or by water, following the coastline on kayak, watertaxi, under sail or aboard a cruising cat. Take the 60 minute trip by road to Marahau or Kaiteriteri at the Southern edge of the Abel Tasman National Park.

Choose your mode of travel, and the section of the park which appeals the most, and enjoy the endless golden sandy beaches, secluded bays and rocky outcrops. Make sure you pass the seal colony at Tonga Island to see, or even swim with curious baby fur seals. Pre-plan this day prior to make the most of your time in the park.

Overnight at a lodge in the Abel Tasman National Park or at a nearby lodge or Bed and Breakfast. Dine onsite at your accommodation or at historic Mapua Wharf, from where the region’s thriving apple crop was once exported. These days the wharf buildings and cool stores house galleries, shops, and a brewery. A highlight is dining in the wharf restaurants overlooking the lively entrance to a huge tidal estuary.

Day 3 – A Golden Day in Golden Bay
Head west to Takaka over the ‘Marble Mountain’ to Golden Bay, where spending a day is like a being on holiday for a week!   Farewell Spit at the northern tip of the South Island is a remarkable 35km sandspit with over 90 species of birds.

Take a trip across the remote and rugged landscape on a purpose built air-conditioned bus to the gannet colony and lighthouse at the very end.

No trip to Golden Bay is complete without mingling with the colourful locals at a quirky café like the Mussel Inn. Live music and performance, good food and great beer brewed on-site. Waikoropupu Springs is a sacred place to Maori and is where you will find some of the clearest fresh water ever measured.

Take the easy walk through native forest with informative interpretation panels to the viewing platform on the small lake formed by the springs. The almost perfect clarify of the water has been measured and found to have a visibility of 63 Meters.

Downstream from the Springs, the fresh salmon is farmed at Anatoki Salmon. Entry to the picturesque farm is free, and catching a fish is almost guaranteed! Pay for your catch by weight and have it cooked fresh for your river-side picnic, or to take away for another day 

Explore the Natural Wonders of the Abel Tasman National Park

Day 1 - Water Activities Around the Park
From Nelson city drive west towards Kaiteriteri at the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park. There are numerous activities available in and around the park such as hiking, walking, kayaking and sailing.

This afternoon you will spend a spectacular day sailing through pristine clear waters aboard a spacious sailing catamaran, surrounded by secluded coves, golden beaches, islands and lush native forest. Explore sheltered lagoons and enjoy lunch on the beach. Sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery, or get involved in the sailing.  

Overnight at eco-style accommodation at the northern end of the Abel Tasman National Park, and dine in the award-winning café which uses fresh organic produce from the lodge’s garden.

Day 2 – Explore and Enjoy the Tracks and Walks of the Park
Spend the day exploring the golden sand beaches and easy walking through native bush and harakeke (flax). There are numerous activities available in and around the park such as a three day guided walk.

This is deal for people who are short on time, and want to walk the length of the 38 km Abel Tasman Coast Track, including a scenic cruise along the coastline. Overnight lodge accommodation is included.

Today, spend the day walking with an experienced guide. The coastal track is managed and maintained to a very high standard by the Department of Conservation. The track is well-formed and heavy hiking boots are not necessary. After your day discovering the golden beaches, secluded coves, and beech forest, return to your accommodation for a well-earned gourmet meal with local wines.

Day 3 – Steal a Swim with our Seals while Kayaking in the Park
Today, take a one day guided sea kayak.   Get up close and personal with a Seal Swim around the Tonga Island Marine Reserve. The calm waters and golden sand beaches make this an idyllic environment to experience these playful and curious creatures. 

Return to your eco-style accommodation nestled in lush native bush, near the edge of the Park. Enjoy gourmet meals and local wines at the end of a big day in the park.

The Nelson Tasman National Park Luxury Adventure 3 Day Excursion
Viewing any of our wonderful National Parks from the air is an experience not to be missed. Amazing, spectacular, breath-taking and wow are hardly strong enough adjectives to describe the majestic beauty of the Nelson Lakes, Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks.

Allow a local operator to host you for a multi-day adventure within the awesome wilderness of the Nelson Tasman region. These trips are for the traveller who wants direct, authentic experiences with skilled and like minded guides.

For the traveller who wants to be challenged, get dusty and tired and earn a feeling of achievement. Then, at the end of the day, enjoy fine food, good wine and comfortable accommodation. 

Day 1 – Heli-bike Heaven in the Nelson Lakes National Park
Your journey begins early as you helicopter through an alpine wilderness to a mountain ridge over the Nelson Lakes National Park. Get dropped off high on a ridge and begin the jaw-dropping, adrenalin pumping 18km mountain bike downhill descent from the Coppermine Ridge or the Dun Track.

Then take a transfer by helicopter to the light sunny golden sand beaches of the Abel Tasman National Park. To really get your senses pulsating, board one of our luxury sailing yachts for some pandering. Dine above deck sipping champagne or local wines while watching the sun slip below the hills, before sleeping peacefully on board.

Day 2 – Abel Tasman Adventure
Spend the whole day kayaking along the coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park, or if you have the down-hill bug, take an exciting mountain-bike down ‘Marble Mountain’ into Golden Bay.  

The Rameka Track starts at the top of the Takaka Hill at the inland edge of the Abel Tasman National Park and is part of an immense and bizarre landscape featuring fascinating pre-historic rock formations, “sink-holes” and dense and unusual forest. Wind you down the single track with a few tricky sections, right to the base of the mountain and Takaka township to a comfortable rural lodge and a hearty home cooked dinner.

Day 3 – Western Wilderness
Travel by helicopter to the immense Kahurangi National Park, for a trek through a section of one of the Department of Conservations “Great Walks,” the Heaphy Track. Kahurangi is a geologically complex area. Much of its rock is sedimentary, laid down in an ancient sea, then faulted, uplifted and scoured, in places, by glaciers.

Parts of the region are limestone or marble, these areas are characterised by an abundance of caves, bluffs, natural arches, sinkholes and water-worn outcrops. New Zealand's oldest fossil (540 million years old) was found in the park. Return to Nelson by helicopter in the late afternoon.

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3 Day itineraries Nelson Tasman