Welcome to Nelson and Golden Bay
Walks & Parks
Discover the region's walks, parks, beaches, lakes or rivers.
There are also plenty of cafés, restaurants, gardens, museums and galleries, and Founders Historic Park which is a ‘living’ museum offering a fascinating insight into the way we used to live (there’s also an adventure playground, café and a decommissioned DC10 on site). Nelson is a happening city year round – don’t miss the huge and colourful Saturday morning markets and look out for the year-round events and festivals. Many of these are in the summer months and include great free family entertainment.
Snippet of history: The Maori name for Nelson is Whakatu, meaning ‘Peaceful Haven’. Nelson received its European name in honour of the 1st Viscount Nelson and Admiral of the fleet that defeated both the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Many of the roads and public areas around the city are named after people and ships associated with that battle. Trafalgar Street is the main city street.
The Nelson region’s three National Parks, Abel Tasman, Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi, provide spectacular mountain, river, lake and coastal scenery. Nelson also offers the thrills of tandem skydiving, sea kayaking, whitewater rafting on the Buller River, caving under Marble Mountain, rock climbing in Golden Bay and 35km 4WD safaris along Farewell Spit (a wildlife sanctuary located on the sandbar at the northernmost tip of the South Island). The Nelson region boasts several award-winning vineyards and each February the Taste Nelson Festival showcases locally-made food and beverages.
Abel Tasman National Park
The park is home to the popular Abel Tasman track which can be walked or kayaked along in a few days. There are huts situated along the track, with comfortable bunks and gas provided. The track is an easy one to organise, since water taxis abound. You can be picked up or dropped off just about anywhere or anytime you like, either with an organised service or pre-booked ‘taxi’. You can kayak the track, hand in your kayak and walk back, or complete just a day or half day walk, and still be picked up.
Look out for dolphins, seals and even whales if you take to the waters by kayak or water taxi.
On the far side of Abel Tasman national park, Golden Bay is one of New Zealand’s most peaceful, tucked-away treasures. The winding Takeka Hill, distinctive Farewell Spit (35km long sand spit), the clear waters of Waikoropupu Springs (Pupu Springs for short!) and Harwood’s Hole are just some of the unique attractions of Golden Bay. Add to these the incredible golden sands, bird song, abundant sea life, and most of all, few people and you’ll see why this ‘off the beaten track’ corner of the globe is special indeed.