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There's lots of information here about the Tasman region and you can save time by just clicking on the links below:
* Where is the Tasman - Getting here
* Stunning seaside villages in the Abel Tasman
* Walk and cruise in the Abel Tasman National Park
* Come and kayak - see what all the hype is about
* Other Tasman attractions - so much more to see
* Maori heritage
* Food and wine - some of the best in New Zealand
* A wildlife haven
* Art and culture in the Tasman region
* State Highways map
The Tasman is located at the top of the South Island.
Nelson is the main city in the region, and has an airport serviced from Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.
If you are driving from the North Island, you will need to access the Inter Island ferry which sails from Wellington (on the lower North Island) to the port of Picton (at the top of the South Island).
From Picton you follow State Highway1 to Blenheim, then State Highway 6 to Nelson.
The drive from Picton to Nelson takes around 1.5-2 hours.
If you have a rental car, be sure to check that you can take it on the ferry. Some car rental companies insist that you drop your car off in Wellington then hire another car in Picton. The rental companies are located close to the ferry terminals at both Wellington and Picton.
If you are driving from Christchurch you would take SH1 to Blenheim, then SH6 from Blenheim to Nelson.
Or, you can take the inland route on SH1, SH7, SH65 then SH6.
Allow about 6-7 hours driving time for both.
You can see the routes on our State Highways map.
Come and visit one of our personal favorites
The Tasman region, located at the top of the South Island, between the Marlborough and West Coast regions, holds a very special place in our hearts. With relatives in the area, we have spent a lot of time exploring the region over the years.
Our favourite spot is the small coastal village of Marahau, the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. This beautiful little settlement has some of the best views in New Zealand, a range of accommodation, and lots to do.
And of course, the magnificent Abel Tasman National Park is right there, waiting.
And just around the headland is the equally scenic village of Kaiteri, a favorite with locals and holiday makers, and home to a great water front camping ground.
With one of the best golden sand beaches in the country, you should put Kaiteri on your holiday bucket list!
Cruise and walk in the stunning Abel Tasman
Most people come to the region to see the Abel Tasman National Park, and if you have the opportunity, a guided tour is highly recommended.
One of our favorites is the full day hiking tour and cruise. This lets you experience the beautiful waters of Tasman Bay, together with sections of the famous Abel Tasman Coastal Track.
The tour includes collection and return to Nelson, your water taxi rides deep into the park, park fees, refreshments, a delicious lunch, and your guided walk.
The scenery in the park is stunning, and with so many bays and golden beaches, it's not difficult to understand why this is is such a popular place.
You can read more about the tour, including reviews, by clicking on the button below:
Kayak to a golden beach
The other great way to experience the park, is by kayak.
If you come here, tractors towing trailers loaded with kayaks are a common sight.
Marahau and the nearby town of Motueka (known by the locals as "Mot") are the main bases for several kayak companies, offering trips into the park.
The full day Astrolabe kayak tour is a great way to get up close to some of the local wildlife, and to experience the pristine waters and beaches of the Abel Tasman.
Your kayak adventure takes you to Adele Island, home to several species of local sea bird, together with a colony of playful Fur Seals. These inquisitive mammals will delight you with their antics, and seem to love posing for that favorite camera shot!
Punctuated by lunch on a gorgeous beach (lunch is an optional cost, or you can bring your own), this is an unforgettable day and one that we can highly recommend.
Bookings are essential, and to learn more about the tour, just click on the "Check Availability" button below.
But what about the rest of the Abel Tasman region?
But of course there is a lot more to the Tasman Region than Marahau and the Abel Tasman.
Nelson/Richmond, the largest city in the region, is a bustling, buzzing community of around 60-70,000 people, and has all the facilities that you would expect of a place its size.
Located on the calm shores of the stunning Tasman Bay, Nelson is flanked by snow capped peaks in the winter, and has several nearby ski fields in the Nelson Lakes National Park.
Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project - at Lake Rotoiti in Nelson Lakes National Park - is a major restoration programme to return native birdlife to a 5000ha beech forest. Bush walks weave through the trees, and information panels tell stories of the project, and local flora and fauna.
Nelson Lakes National Park is also home to the world's clearest lake, the Blue Lake, with underwater visibility of up to 80 metres.
The Tasman region has a thriving arts community, a vibrant cafe culture, and some of the best seafood that you will find anywhere. We highly recommend the local scallops, flounder, and (if you are lucky enough to be there in season), the local whitebait.
There are so many other great things to see in the region. Around 1.5 to 2 hours drive from Nelson is the township of Takaka, the main town in the Golden Bay area.The day trip from Nelson to Golden Bay and back is one that should be high on your list of things to do in the Tasman region.
Around 30 minutes out of Nelson you pass through the village of Mapua, then Ruby Bay, where the road hugs the coast briefly.
Every time we pass Ruby Bay I'm amazed by the turquoise colour of the bay. Stunning. The drive from Ruby Bay to the town of Motueka ("Mot" to the locals) takes about another 30 minutes and passes through rolling hills and (in winter) glimpses of the snow capped Mt Arthur.
Shortly after Motueka, you pass the turnoff to Marahau and the Abel Tasman National Park (but that's a trip for the next day) and begin the climb over Takaka Hill. Towards the top there is a lookout with amazing views back down over the Abel Tasman. This is also the location of the Ngarua Caves, a series of limestone caves, which are well worth a look if you have time.
As you crest the summit of Takaka Hill and begin your descent, the views of the valley are amazing.
In the colder months the surrounding peaks will be capped in snow, and in the warmer months, the fields form a beautiful green patchwork. Another 20 or 30 minutes and you reach Takaka.
Take your time to explore the area and if you have time take an organised trip to Farewell Spit. Golden Bay is almost a small region in itself.
Lots of small beach side villages, access to the Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National Parks, and also the amazing Te Waikoropupu (Pu Pu) Springs.
The Springs are the largest in Australasia, and pump out a staggering 14,000 litres of cold, clear water every second. They are claimed to be the world's clearest freshwater springs, and visitors can walk along streamside tracks to a large viewing deck, complete with a clever mirror system that lets you see under the surface.
Yes, there's lots to see and do in the Tasman Region.
Here's some more information on this wonderful part of New Zealand...
P.S. We can also show you a wide range of accommodation in the region.
The Tasman region combines inspirational landscapes and a vibrant creative environment, offering visitors the opportunity to meet and mix with local artists and craftspeople, visit their studios, and participate in art tours and workshops.
Kilometres of golden sand beaches and several national park areas set the scene
for year-round adventure in the Tasman region. Wildlife and outdoor
experiences including sea kayaking, rock climbing, white-water rafting,
mountain biking, sailing, horse trekking and swimming with marine life
are all on offer in the region.
Around one hours drive from Nelson is the popular sea side resort village of Kaiteriteri. With a great beach front camping ground, golden beaches, and several cafes, Kaiteriteri is a great spot to relax in.
And from Kaiteriteri it's just a short drive around the headland to Marahau, the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park.
An interesting attraction between Kaiteriteri and Marahau is Split
Apple Rock. As you can see from the picture, it's very aptly named!
Local waters are the source of some of New Zealand’s finest seafood, and the sunny coastal climate in the Tasman region produces grapes for wine, fresh fruit and produce.
Maori knew the area as Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Maui or ‘the tip of the nose of the canoe of Maui’. According to legend, the demi-god Maui used his fish hook to catch and land the North Island - Te Ika a Maui or ‘the fish of Maui’ - from his waka (canoe).
Maori first settled in the Nelson New Zealand region about 700 - 800 years ago. They built villages along the coast and close to river valleys, making the most of fertile soil, abundant seafood, and a favourable climate.
The region's central location was an ideal stopover for
pre-European traders. North Island Maori passed through on their way to
the West Coast to trade for greenstone, while Pacific and Maori traders
came in search of agillite for making tools.
Food and Wine to die for!
If you enjoy your food and wine, then the Tasman Region is the place for you!
As Australasia’s largest fishing port, Nelson New Zealand exports fresh seafood - scallops, clams, salmon. Other local specialities include beer and fruit.
Nelson New Zealand is one of New Zealand’s leading wine regions, producing chardonnay, pinot noir, riesling, pinot gris, gewürztraminer and an intensely-flavoured sauvignon blanc.
Many of the area's 26 family-owned wineries offer cellar door experiences.
Visitors can also take leisurely vineyard tasting tours for a snapshot of different wine varieties and their production.
And some, like Kina Beach Vinyard even allow you to stay with them!
During our frequent visits to the area we make a point of trying as much of the
local seafood as we can, and we are particularly fond of fresh scallops,
flounder (a sweet white flesh) and whitebait (when in season). The region has many quality cafés and restaurants serving local foods. On old Mapua wharf,
serves an award-winning menu including naturally-prepared smoked
seafood that visitors can sample while overlooking the Waimea estuary on
Tasman Bay. A great way to spend a lazy afternoon.
What about a guided cycling tour to local wineries?
How about this for a great eco-friendly way to sample the regions wonderful wines.
After collection from your local accommodation, your friendly hosts take you around 30 minutes out of Nelson to the pretty Moutere region.
Then it's time to hop on your bike!
Visiting four wineries, your route covers about 25 kilometers (but can be shortened if needed), includes tastings at each winery, and a lovely platter lunch, and glass of wine, at one of them.
Your knowledgeable local guide can even add in a visit to local art galleries if you would like.
And if you are worried about your fitness, they can even lessen the load on you with an electric bike option (we like that)!
This tour is a great way to get out into the countryside, sample some of the region's best wines, and learn a little bit more about the history of the area.
Bookings are recommended and you can learn more about the tour by clicking on the "Check Availability" button.
The region's three national parks, two marine reserves and extensive coastline are havens for some of New Zealand’s beautiful and protected nature and wildlife.
During our numerous trips we have encountered seals, dolphins, orca, and penguins!
Farewell Spit is the world’s longest natural sandbar, and stretches 35km off the north western tip of the South Island and continues to grow.
This area of exceptional beauty is home to over 90 species of birds, including migratory godwits and gannets. A long established wildlife sanctuary, Farewell Spit has New Zealand’s highest level of conservation protection (even higher than the national parks).
At the time of writing, there were only two tour companies with Department of Conservation approval to conduct tours of Farewell Spit.
I can highly recommend these tours. Its a great way to spend several hours as you head into the reserve in specially designed four wheel drive buses. When we did our trip we stopped off at a seal colony, climbed huge sand dunes (and rolled down them!), visited the lighthouse, and saw lots of great scenery.
You can learn more about Farewell Spit in the Farewell Spit Eco Tours video below or by following this link.
Like walking? The Tasman Region has some of the best walks in the country
Established in 1942, the Abel Tasman is renowned for golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs and clear water. Kayakers can hire kayaks, and take single or multi-day guided tours to visit otherwise inaccessible sheltered coves.
But the region is probably better known for some of the most amazing walks in New Zealand.
Abel Tasman Coastal Track
is one of New Zealand's
The 52km walk takes three to five days to complete, and huts and campsites are available along the way. The Abel Tasman national park is accessed through the stunning seaside village of Marahau.
The famous Heaphy Track, in Kahurangi National Park, takes about four to six days and is the longest "Great Walk". Kahurangi is home to an exceptional variety of native plants and wildlife, including great spotted kiwi.
The links above take you to the Department of Conservation (DOC) website, where there is heaps of information on these beautiful tracks.
Art and Culture in the Tasman Region
Nelson - birthplace of the unique World of Wearable Art show - claims New
Zealand’s highest per capita artist community with 350-plus resident artists.
Founded by local artist Suzie Moncrieff, the World of WearableArt is a major theatrical event that’s now held annually in Wellington.
The World of Wearable Art museum is based in Nelson and offers visitors a year-round spectacle.
The region offers a variety of creative workshops reflecting New Zealand’s diverse culture.
Ranging from two hours to four days, hands-on artistic experiences include bone carving, blending olive oil, collecting and cooking seafood, or taking a Maori journey through the region.
annual Nelson Arts Festival showcases the region's artistic talent and
products and includes a parade through the streets of Nelson.
Did You Know
* New Zealander's are passionate about Rugby. New Zealand’s first rugby game was played here in the Tasman region on 14 May, 1870.
* Nelson has the southern hemisphere’s largest camping ground. Tahuna Beach Holiday Park has over 2000 camp sites and motel units.
* Nelson, settled in 1841, is New Zealand’s second oldest city.
* The Tasman region receives 2,500 sunshine hours per year - see our Climate Map of New Zealand
New Zealand's official tourism agency, Tourism New Zealand has lots more information on the Tasman region.
State Highways Map