In November I was lucky to get away for a holiday to Nelson Tasman at the top of the South Island of New Zealand.
My top five reasons you should visit Nelson Tasman:
- Heritage is remembered at Founders Heritage Park.
- The Abel Tasman National Park.
- Westport with panoramic views and seal colony.
- Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Walk.
- Greymouth with its gold mining and jade-hunting history.
Nelson is a popular base for caving, vineyards, exploring nature and so much more. The city’s heritage dates back to 1841 and is showcased at Founders Heritage Park.
1. Founders Heritage Park
Here we discovered a collection of historic buildings and transportation depicting early settlement in Nelson.
2. Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park was named after the Dutch explorer who is recognised as the first European to discover New Zealand in 1642. It is renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs, and its world-famous coast track.
Although we only got a glimpse of the park there’s plenty to see, do and places to stay.
Tip: Download the Abel Tasman App courtesy of Project Janszoon. It is an excellent guide for your trip.
Just before Takaka, we did an easy short walk through lush native bush to Wainui Falls. Crossing farmland for a short distance then we walked through a forest of nikau palms, rata trees, and ferns. There’s a great suspension bridge on the way.
We loved the Wainui Falls, so loud you can hear them some distance before you reached them. The falls are the largest and most accessible falls in Golden Bay/Mohua.
Further along at Wainui Bay, we enjoyed the coastal views and walkway. There’s plenty of walking opportunities and awesome beach views that go right around the bay.
3. Westport (via Buller Gorge) to Greymouth
The drive to Westport took about three hours.
Just a note: be prepared for the long drive but don’t be put off as there’s great scenery.
Once in Westport, we went to see the seal colony at Tauranga Bay which offers panoramic views of the cape and rugged coastline. We didn’t see very many seals just a few juveniles as many had returned to the sea after the breeding season.
4. Punakaiki (on the edge of the Paparoa National Park)
Between Greymouth and Westport is the small community of Punakaiki. Here we enjoyed the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Walk which is a very popular tourist destination at Dolomite Point south of the main village. The rocks poking up from the sea looked like giant pancakes and were quite spectacular.
Tip: The photo opportunities here are amazing, so don’t forget to take your camera!
Greymouth is just an hour and a half drive from Westport. A quaint town with a gold mining and a jade-hunting past. A visit to the House Museum and Shantytown Heritage Park is a must.
Shantytown is a re-created gold-rush town with a museum and steam train (although an electric train was in operation at the time we visited) it was still well worth it. We also got to learn the art of gold panning.
Tip: Give the gold panning a go, as all prospectors are guaranteed a small find!
If you’re tossing around ideas for places to visit over the summer, in fact, any time of the year, I highly recommend the Nelson Tasman region be at the top of your list. It’s definitely a place I’m keen to return to at a later date, Happy holidays!
It’s dramatically beautiful, it’s an idyll, it’s a little oasis. Lord Robert Winston
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