19 August 2014
Nelson First XI: Tourist Highlights
The Nelson region combines the finest elements of the New Zealand experience and delivers them across stunning geography and the South Island’s highest sunshine hours. To get the full Nelson experience, check out our list of 11 ‘must-do’ activities in the region.
New Zealand’s finest coastal National Park
No visit is complete without visiting the world famous Abel Tasman National Park. Nominated as the ‘Best Beach in Australasia’ in 2013, explore golden beaches fringed by native bush, wander trails accompanied by birdsong, swim in blue waters with seals and penguins, or kayak past islands inhabited by nothing but native birds. The options for enjoyment are endless – hire a private yacht or charter boat, take a guided walk, paddle to untouched beaches, stay in an eco-lodge or simply go on a relaxing cruise. Visit website.
The fun begins at 16,500 feet
You can do at all in the Nelson sky! Enjoy a scenic flight and stunning views as you climb over snow-capped mountains, golden beaches and turquoise oceans. For the more adventurous, take the leap and free fall for 90 seconds before your tandem dive master pulls the chute, and you float safely to land. If you have ever fancied yourself as a pilot, this is your chance to fly the Pitts Special. As a beginner you will be able to roll it, loop it and fly upside down. For the more experienced pilot, challenge yourself further with some dedicated spin recovery training. Visit website.
The one that didn’t get away
The Nelson Tasman region is one of the world's best fly fishing destinations due to the clarity of water and the remoteness of the river and lakes. Enhance your experience by staying at an exclusive luxury lodge or utilise the services of an experienced fishing guide. Lodges are situated close to world class brown trout rivers, spectacular scenery and wilderness activities. Visit website.
The ultimate kiwi playground
Take part in a uniquely New Zealand farm experience and disappear into the pristine native bush above Nelson's beautiful Cable Bay, where visitors can experience a range of unique adventures. The now world-famous "SkyWire" (the world’s longest flying fox), quad biking through native bush, horse trekking in to the hills for spectacular views, or a game of Paintball are some of the unique adventures to choose from. Visit website.
Get up close and personal with nature
The Nelson region is blessed with three national parks, all within 90 minutes of the city. In addition to the popular Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson Lakes National Park offers an alpine landscape with majestic mountains and lakeside walks. The diverse landscape of the huge Kahurangi National Park, to the west of the region offers remote adventure in a pristine environment, including one of New Zealand's "Great Walks", the Heaphy Track. Visit website.
Experience nature on the spit
Farewell Spit is New Zealand's longest sand spit (25 kilometres) and a nature reserve. Every spring, thousands of wading birds arrive from the northern hemisphere. Other birds range from black swans to sparrows, with seals and also penguins breeding in the area. Visit website.
Grab all the region has to offer with a helicopter charter including back country trout fishing, hiking, overnight hut stays, heli wine tours, luxury lodge transfer and exclusive mountain landings. If you are feeling indulgent, try ‘The Food Source’ - a unique cuisine heli-adventure showcasing some of Nelson Tasman's freshest produce and finest locations. During your Food Source experience you will fly to inspiring places and gather produce before award winning Michelin trained chef Matt Bouterey prepares a meal in an appropriate wilderness setting. Visit website.
Get the pedals moving
With some of the easiest and most accessible to technical and challenging mountain biking tracks in New Zealand, Nelson is celebrated as one of the best mountain biking spots in the world. Major rides include The Dun Mountain, the Heaphy Track (in winter) and the Kaiteriteri Mountain Biking Park. For those keen to explore the region at a more leisurely pace, a number of biking/cycling tour companies provide guided or self-guided tours and bike rentals along the ‘Great Taste Trail’, winding along beachfronts, through vineyards and past art galleries, breweries and delightful cafes. Visit website.
Explore the wine country
With its Mediterranean climate and sunny days, the Nelson Tasman area is famous as New Zealand’s aromatics’ capital. For fans of Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Rose and Viognier varieties a visit to one (or more) of the region’s 26 wineries is a must. Most local cellar doors tie into an art gallery forming WineArt, a unique visitor experience, enabling wine aficionados and art lovers to quench their thirst in more ways than one. Visit website.
Beer has been central to the local culture of the Nelson-Tasman region, dating back to the first New Zealand settlements in the 1840s. Craft breweries of all sizes now stretch from Founders Heritage Park to Onekaka in Golden Bay. They make a perfect excuse for a half-day or full-day tour exploring all the gorgeous corners of the region. Many of these locally owned, family-run breweries and outlets welcome visitors for tours, sampling at the bar, a meal or takeaway sales. Share a pint with locals, learn about the area’s beer history and experience the wide range of unique beers. Visit website.
Meet the artist
Find out why over 250 working artists choose to call Nelson home by visiting them in their studios. Try everything from private one-on-one viewings to personal tutoring in artistic pursuits as varied as painting to ceramics to sculpture. Artists include quirky Green Member of Parliament Mike Ward, who is a local icon for his jewellery and painting, renowned ceramicist Christine Boswijk, famous for her spectacular platters, or glassblowers Marie and Ola Hoglund, whose glass artwork is sought by collectors around the world. Visit website.
For more information on what to see and do in Nelson, visit: www.nelsonnz.com
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