Nelson and Golden Bay

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Nelson

Nelson and Golden Bay at the top of the South Island is a beautiful part of the country - it's a destination in itself as it's not on the road to anywhere, but believe us, this is a worthwhile holiday destination and a very beautiful part of the country - home to the stunning Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National Parks.

Take a detour to Kaiteriteri to explore the Abel Tasman National Park.

Nelson

NelsonNelson - waterside vista and mountain view

As you near Nelson on SH6, you will hit the coast and look over towards the Richmond Ranges towering above the sea. Nelson is a beautiful city - there is the sea on the north and you can see the mountains across the sea but also rising up all around you. The mountains keep the worst of the weather at bay so Nelson has a great climate.

Nelson is also well known for the arts and crafts and until recently was the home of the World of Wearable Arts (WOW) - the museum is still in Nelson. The wine produced in Nelson is also world class.

See and Do

  • Visit the World of Wearable Art (WOW) museum - it's also a museum of classic cars - so something for all the family
  • Climb the "Centre of New Zealand" - it's a 20-30 minute walk up this hill in central Nelson and the views are spectacular. And yes, it is supposed to be the centre of New Zealand
  • Shop at Fashion Island in Hardy St
  • Visit the Hoglund Art Glass Studio and Gallery - in Richmond and set in beautiful gardens
  • Take a walk along the waterfront near the port
  • Nelson is known for its Arts and Crafts - visit Richmond (SH6), Wakefield (SH6), the Redwood Valley and the Upper Moutere (Moutere Highway)and Mapua (off SH60) - all within easy driving distance from Nelson - these places are packed with great arts and crafts

Eat and Drink

  • There are lots of cafes especially at the top of Trafalgar St under the Christ Church Cathedral on Church Hill (Pikimia)
  • If you like Thai, you can't beat the Golden Bell in Hardy St
  • The Morrison St Cafe has great food - we had a delicious home-made soup -it's right next to Fashion Island so good to refresh after all that shopping
  • There are lots of cafes at Tahunanui Beach - for that relaxed, chilled-out feeling

Stop Awhile

  • Stay at Nelson City Holiday Park
  • Stop at Tahunanui beach for a while - there is no overnight parking or camping allowed, but it's a good spot to stop for refreshments

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Nelson to Kaiteriteri

As you leave Nelson to head to Golden Bay and Takaka, you will be on SH60. Kaiteriteri is a stunning seaside resort but try and avoid the height of the summer unless you love crowds.

25 minutes from Nelson, you come to Mapua, a picturesque seaside town, which is worth a visit. It sits on the Waimea estuary - the largest in the South Island.

Another 20 minutes or so and you reach Motueka - heart of fruit-growing country. Shortly after Motueka, you will reach Riwaka. Leave SH60 here and take the road towards Kaiteriteri and Marahau.

See and Do

  • Visit the Laughing Fish Studio in Mapua for ceramics
  • Visit the Touch of the Sea aquarium sea cave and gift shop
  • For the adventurous of you, take a tandem sky dive or take a helicopter from Motueka

Eat and Drink

  • You will find some great cafes in the Motueka area. We had a Devonshire tea in a lovely garden setting

Stop Awhile

  • Stay at Motueka Top 10 Holiday Park

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Kaiteriteri

KaiteriteriKaiteriteri

Kaiteriteri is the gateway to the stunning Abel Tasman National Park - it is beautiful here and is very busy in the summer. We visited in June and had great weather and plenty of space to relax. We would avoid Kaiteriteri in the summer, but if you love the hustle and bustle, it's a great spot.

A short drive away is the much quieter Marahau where the road ends and the walking track into Abel Tasman begins.


See and Do

  • Take a cruise in the Abel Tasman National Park - we took the Wilsons cruise - you can be dropped off and trek part of the way and then be collected at the next stop. There is a stop at beautiful Totaranui
  • Visit the wood sculpture studio in Marahau
  • Go sea kayaking from Marahau - to read more, click here

 Eat and Drink

  • Have a meal or tea at the beach front cafe/restaurant

Stop Awhile

  • Stay at Kaiteriteri Beach Motor Camp
  • We haven't stayed there but have heard great reports about Old McDonalds Farm and Holiday Park in Marahau

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Golden Bay

See and Do

  • Visit the Ngaura Caves on Marble Mountain - described as a real middle earth experience. You head deep underground and see amazing stalactites and stalagmites as well as moa bones - these caves were formed many millions of years ago. Look out for the signs about 20 km from Motueka on SH60
  • Take a Farewell Spit Eco Tour - you drive right up to the lighthouse
  • Visit Te Waikoropupu (Pupu) Springs - the clearest water in the world and a pleasant bush walk to boot
  • If you really want vast expanses of beach, head to Wharariki beach - there is a walk through farmland to get there, but it is worth it. Check out the windswept trees leaving no doubt that the prevailing wind is the westerly
  • Visit the Bencarri Nature Park and Cafe - home of the Anatoki Eel. Great for children as they can feed and pat the animals and there is even mini-golf

Eat and Drink

  • Stop at a cafe in Takaka
  • Visit Anatoki Salmon - you can catch your own. It's free entry and you get free use of fishing rods and tackle - you only pay for what you catch. There is a licensed cafe

Stop Awhile

  • There is a beautiful DOC campsite at Totaranui - the road runs to the right from Takaka (heading towards Golden Bay) - you have to book 6 months in advance for the peak summer period - that's how great it is. Our advice is to go off-season
  • If you don't want to go too far off the main highway, then stay at Golden Bay Holiday Park (north of Takaka)

And when you're finished it's back to Nelson and then on to Blenheim via Havelock or to the West Coast via the Nelson Lakes.

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