SECTION TWO: PAGE THREE
Painters, sculptors, ceramic artists, jewellers and more … live and create throughout the region. www.nelsonarts.org.nz
- Meet the artists: Visitors can find a craft map or the Nelson Guide Book ('Art in its Own Place'), available from the Visitor Information Centre, to create their own itinerary. Meeting the artist who painted the picture or the winemaker who crafted the vintage is one of Nelson’s unique experiences.
- Artisan markets: Nelson's Saturday market where artists and craftspeople from the region congregate.
- Art and workshop pass: travellers can meet artists, visit their workshops and participate in creating their own art. Learn glass bead making or ceramics.
- Studio and gallery tours: Several operators run arts tours visiting galleries around the region. The tours are generally combined with visits to vineyards.
- World of Wearableart and Collectable Cars Museum: houses costumes from the World of Wearableart show, a phenomenon initiated in Nelson. The show now held in Wellington is a changing spectacle fully choreographed with models, dancers and performers, dramatic stage sets, scripted lighting and music. Winning entries from the shows live exclusively in Nelson at the World of WearableArt and Collectable Cars Museum. www.wowcars.co.nz
- Recommended base for creativity experiences: Nelson and Motueka.
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park is small but exquisitely formed. Occupying a piece of coast between Takaka and Marahau, it features a coastal track that links the many beaches. The track takes between three and five days to complete. There are lodges and camp sites to accommodate hikers along the way.
In Nelson Lakes National Park, which is surrounded by mountain ranges, visitors can walk through the honeydew forest beside Lake Rotoiti. Kahurangi National Park promises an entirely different brand of scenery - marble and limestone landscapes with caves, natural arches and dramatic gorges. Abel Tasman National Park www.doc.govt.nz
Abel Tasman is New Zealand’s smallest National Park and one of the most popular. Abel Tasman is renowned for its golden beaches, turquoise waters and its well known coastal walking track. It also has a mild climate and is a good place to visit at any time of the year.
Visitors can experience the Park in the following ways:
- The Abel Tasman Coastal Track: a 51km track that takes an average of three to five days to complete . There are tidal crossings, which can only be crossed within a few hours either side of low tide. Along the track there is a mixture of accommodation facilities ranging from basic Department of Conservation (DOC) huts and campsites to independently owned lodges with excellent facilities. DOC require visitors to book campsites and huts in advance - this is important to do particularly for your clients that are planning an experience independent of a tour (tour operators will make appropriate bookings on behalf of clients).
- Sea kayaking (one-day to multi-day trips): explore the coast from the water, rest on beaches with no foot access and observe the marine wildlife. Kayak tour operators are mostly based at Marahau, Kaiteriteri and Moteuka. They offer guided trips or freedom rentals (providing equipment, instruction and full safety briefings).
- Day trips or overnight stays: water taxis can drop visitors into the Park to walk part of the Track. Visitors also have the option of staying one night in the Park. There are also day cruises and nature tours that include walking through the Park.
- There are three main gateways to Abel Tasman National Park. In the south are Marahau and Kaiteriteri, reached by road from Motueka (approximately one hour from Nelson city); in the north is Totaranui, reached by road from Takaka in Golden Bay.
- Regular launches and water taxis service a number of points along the Park’s coastline, including Kaiteriteri, Marahau and Totaranui, enabling visitors to access the Park from the water.
Recommended bases for an experience in Abel Tasman National Park
For visitors intending on doing the coastal walkway or multi-day kayaking trips, Motueka is a good base from which to start/finish. Kaiteriteri: a small beach village, very popular with New Zealander’s is also a good base for the Abel Tasman National Park (north of Motueka). Those visitors only spending a day in the National Park could base themselves in Nelson.
Nelson Lakes National Park
This Park is located at the northernmost point of the Southern Alps, with tranquil beech forest, craggy mountains, clear streams and lakes both big and small. www.doc.govt.nz
Attractions and activities include:
- Lake Rotoiti: this popular and accessible lake has a variety of short and longer walking trails, including a day long lake circuit.
- Lake Angelus: follow an alpine trail to this lake. The heavily protected native bush allows visitors to see New Zealand as it would have been 500 years ago.
- Fishing: Lakes Rotoroa and Rotoiti are renowned as fly-fishing lakes. Fish for brown and rainbow trout.
- Mountaineering: there are a number of good climbing routes suitable for experienced trampers and climbers.
Other activities in the area:
- Rainbow skifield: 40 minutes from St Arnaud for skiing between June and October. www.skirainbow.co.nz
- White water rafting: venture down the Buller Gorge, some of the best white water in New Zealand.
Getting to and from:
- St Arnaud and Lake Rotoiti are accessed by State Highway 6 from Nelson.
- Bus services to St Arnaud operate on a regular basis. Water taxis operate on both Lakes. Several companies offer on-demand transport to Rotoroa from St Arnaud and Nelson.
St Arnaud - Murchison area - in the south of the Nelson region, one hour 15 mins from Nelson are two small towns, St Arnaud and Murchison. They offer a starting point for encounters with the Nelson Lakes National Park.
Kahurangi National Park
Kahurangi is New Zealand’s second largest National Park.
In places it is an untracked wilderness; elsewhere a wonderful network of tracks let visitors explore wild rivers, high plateaux, alpine herb fields, and coastal forests.
The best known hiking trail is the Heaphy Track, a walk that takes four or five days from the Aorere Valley across to the northern West Coast and Karamea.
Activities in the area include:
- Walking: The more popular longer walks include the Heaphy Track (one of New Zealand’s Great Walks) and the Wangapeka Track. Short walks are available at most road ends.
- Kayaking: remote, wild rivers are a feature of Kahurangi. Most are suitable for experienced kayakers only. Commercial rafting tours are available.
- In summer a bus service is available to the start of the Heaphy Track and there are companies in most of the local towns that offer an on-demand shuttle service to the Park.
Motueka, Takaka, Collingwood, Karamea (West Coast region) and Murchison are the Park’s gateway towns and are suitable bases for the start/finish of an experience in the Park. www.doc.govt.nz
Other unique regional features
- Golden Bay: The road trip to Golden Bay, only two hours from Nelson city, is an extraordinary experience in itself: a scenic drive over Takaka Hill. There are well sign-posted lookouts, and the marvels of Harwoods Hole (176 metres/ 577 feet) and the Ngarua Caves are well worth visiting.
- Te Waikoropupu Springs: large mineral springs set in native bush - wahi tapu (sacred place) to the local Maori tribe (iwi). These are New Zealand’s largest freshwater springs, set in a reserve protecting old gold workings, regenerating forest and fine mature bush. The Springs include easy walkways with interpretative panels and are located off State Highway 60, 7 km north of Takaka.
- Farewell Spit tours: a nature reserve on a sandspit jutting into the Tasman Sea. There are several operators that offer tours along the Spit to the lighthouse and bird habitats - these depart from Collingwood.
- Wharariki Beach: a wild and beautiful coastal landscape, where the wind and waves have created massive rock and sand dune formations. Easy half- and full-day walks.
Wine and food experiences
- The Nelson region has a range of boutique wineries, at least 20 are open for tasting and cellar sales. They are mostly located between Nelson and Moteuka.
- Home of Australasia’s largest fishing port means there is always seafood on the menu! Nelson Waterfront and Mapua Wharf are the main eating out areas around Nelson city.
- Roadside fruit stalls and gourmet food producers are dotted around the region. Most of the seasonal fruit is grown around the Moteuka area, an hour from Nelson city.
- Hops have been grown in the Nelson region since the 1840s. Nelson has a number of breweries, all specialising in their own product. Most use the batch brewing technique, blending art and science into producing the perfect brew. www.craftbrewers.co.nz
- Creative Tourism Taste Workshops: these workshops are all about exploring the regions produce and agriculture, meeting the locals who make it happen and learning their secrets. For more information go to www.creativetourism.co.nz