About Nelson-Tasman

About Nelson and Tasman


Nelson-Tasman Lifestyle


The Nelson-Tasman Region occupies the northwest corner of the South Island and includes some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes in New Zealand. Home to roughly 110,000 people, the region is renowned for its strong art and craft scene, and easy-going outdoor lifestyle. It is the birthplace of the World of Wearable Arts and hundreds of artisans are based here, with studios and galleries scattered throughout the region. Nelson-Tasman is home to award-winning vineyards and also has a strong craft beer scene, which is unsurprising given it is the best hop-growing area in the country. With a favourable climate of warm summers, mild winters and high sunshine hours, the Nelson-Tasman Region lends itself to being an essential destination for outdoor enthusiasts.


Three National Parks


Nelson has perhaps the best access to national parks out of anywhere in New Zealand, with three located within 90 km of Nelson city centre.

Abel Tasman National Park is an iconic destination for visitors to the region, particularly those from overseas. Images of Abel Tasman’s golden granite sand, clear blue-green water and native bush right to the shoreline are strongly associated the with Nelson-Tasman Region and even feature prominently in international promotion of New Zealand’s tourism brand. Though it is the smallest of New Zealand’s national parks (22,530 ha), it is the most popular. The 60 km Abel Tasman Coastal Track from Marahau to Wainui Bay is one of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’ and is particularly busy in the summer months. The Coast Track follows the coastline into bays, across inlets and over headlands, passing through native forest the whole way. The Inland Track traverses the interior of the park, which features forested ridges rising to Mt Evans (1156 m) and includes the small pocket of sub-alpine tussock known as Moa Park. In comparison with the Coastal Track the Inland Track is far quieter. Abel Tasman National Park is also the site of Project Janszoon, which aims to restore ecosystems to their original state by 2042, which will mark the 400th anniversary of Abel Tasman’s 1642 arrival in New Zealand.

Kahurangi National Park is New Zealand’s second largest (452,002 ha), and probably its most geographically diverse. Extending from Cape Farewell to the Upper Buller Gorge, the park contains a range of landscapes and ecosystems, including coastal nikau forests, alpine tussocklands, karst mountains and beech forest wilderness. Consequently it has rich biodiversity, with 67 plant species found only within the park. The Tasman Wilderness Area covers 87,000 ha of the park’s interior and is an area preserved in its natural state, with no tracks or structures allowed to be built. The Heaphy Track (another Great Walk) is the most well-known tramping track in the park, though there is more than 1140 km of tracks and routes, including other popular areas and tracks like the Wangapeka Track, Cobb Valley, Mt Arthur and the Tableland, and the highest point in the park, Mt Owen (1875 m).

Nelson Lakes National Park incorporates the northernmost portion of the Southern Alps. With an area of 101,733 ha, Nelson Lakes is characterised by rugged ranges, steep glacially-carved valleys and serene beech forest. Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa are the namesake of the park, and lie at its northern end. Popular tramping tracks in the park include the Sabine and Travers Tracks, along with the Robert Ridge Route to Lake Angelus. The Te Araroa Trail also passes through the park, following the Sabine Valley before climbing over Waiau Pass. The Upper Sabine Valley is also the location of Blue Lake, which contains what is thought to be the clearest freshwater on Earth.

Mount Richmond Forest Park is perhaps under-appreciated in comparison to its national park neighbours, though it is spectacular and worthwhile in its own right. The park extends from the inner reaches of the Marlborough Sounds to Tophouse. The Richmond Range forms the backbone of the park, which features distinctive peaks of Mt Fishtail (1641 m), Mt Richmond (1760 m) and Mt Rintoul (1731 m). The park features the Dun Mountain ophiolite belt, wherein the high metal content of the geology gives the rocks and soils a distinctive red-brown hue and allows only scrubby vegetation to grow. Dun Mountain (1129 m) and Red Hill (1790 m) are prominent landforms in this belt, with the surface of the latter in particular resembling some sort of ‘mars-scape’. The Te Araroa Trail journeys through the park, initially following the pristine Pelorus River, which drains the northeastern half of the park. This section of the Te Araroa Trail is known as the Richmond Alpine Track.


MTB Mecca


Region-wide growth and development of infrastructure and trails has seen the Nelson-Tasman Region establish itself as a destination for cycling and mountain-biking. The network of urban pathways through the Nelson-Richmond urban area make the city highly accessible, while the valleys and hills immediately behind the city are dissected by hundreds of kilometres of trails and roads through conservation and forestry land, several of which have hosted national mountain-bike events. Biking in the region continues to gain momentum thanks to the vision and efforts of track building groups and volunteers, and with support from landowners, council, clubs, trusts and sponsors, the regions have seen extensive development of cycling infrastructure, namely Tasman’s Great Taste Trail and Codgers, Silvan Forest and Kaiteriteri mountain bike parks. Such development has seen Nelson achieve Gold Level status as a ride centre with the International Mountain Bicycling Association; no mean feat as only five other places in the world have been awarded this status.


Key Information
Population of Urban Centres  
Nelson-Richmond Motueka Wakefield Brightwater Mapua Takaka Murchison
Population (2016) 65,000 8,200 2,300 2,000 2,200 1,300 500
(Source: Statistics NZ)
Climate Summary
Nelson City Motueka Takaka
Mean Annual Temperature (°C) 12.7 12.6 12.6
Mean Annual Rainfall (mm) 960 970 2414
Mean Annual Sunshine (Hours) 2472 2385 2012
(Source: NIWA)
Distance by road from Nelson to:
Picton: 134 km, 1 hr 45 min-2 hrs via SH62, or 107 km, 1 hr 45 min-2 hrs via Queen Charlotte Drive
Blenheim: 114 km, 1 hr 30 min-2 hrs
Westport: 230 km
Greymouth: 286 km, 3 hrs 30 min-4 hrs
Christchurch: 416 km, 4 hrs 30 min-6 hrs
  Distance from Nelson city centre to:
Richmond: 15 km, 15 min
Mapua: 32 km, 30-35 min
Motueka: 47 km, 40-50 min
Kateriteri: 61 km, 1 hr
Takaka: 104 km, 1 hr 40 min-2 hrs
Collingwood: 131 km, 2-2 hrs 20 min
Wakefield: 27 km, 30 min
Murchison: 124 km, 1 hr 40 min-2 hrs
St. Arnaud: 88 km, 1 hr 15 min-1 hr 30 min
Nelson Airport is the main airport servicing the Nelson-Tasman Region. The airport has daily domestic flights to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, as well as New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Paraparaumu and Takaka. Takaka Airfield is serviced by Golden Bay Air, which offers regular flights between Takaka and Wellington, and seasonal and charter flights between Takaka and Karamea, and Takaka and Nelson.


Useful Centres for Visitors


Nelson Regional Visitor Centre
Address: Millers Acre, 79 Trafalgar Street, Nelson, New Zealand
Phone: 03 546 9339
Email: nelsonvc@doc.govt.nz
Nelson City Council
Address: Civic House, 110 Trafalgar Street, Nelson
Phone: 03 546 0200
Email: enquiry@ncc.govt.nz
Tasman District Council Richmond Office
Address: 186 Queen Street, Richmond
Phone: 03 543 9524
Email: info@tasman.govt.nz
Motueka Visitor Centre
Address: 20 Wallace Street, Motueka
Phone: 03 528 6523
Motueka Area DOC Office
Address: Cnr King Edward & High Streets, Motueka
Phone: 03 528 1810
Email: motuekaao@doc.govt.nz
Takaka Visitor Centre
Address: 16 Willow Street, Takaka
Phone: 03 525 9136
Golden Bay Area DOC Office
Address: 62 Commercial Street, Takaka
Phone: 03 525 8026
Email: goldenbayao@doc.govt.nz
Murchison Visitor Centre
Address: 47 Waller Street, Murchison
Phone: 03 523 9350
Nelson Lakes Visitor Centre
Address: View Road, St Arnaud
Phone: 03 521 1806
Email: nelsonlakesvc@doc.govt.nz


Useful Links


Nelson City Council
Tasman District Council
Department of Conservation
Walking Access New Zealand : Useful information on access rights to land.
Nelson Mountain Bike Club : Largest MTB club in the region.
Golden Bay Mountain Bike Club
MTB Trails Trust : A trust formed to advance the management, development and maintenance of the mountain bike trail network in the Top of the South Island.
Great Taste Trail
Kaiteriteri MTB Park
The Prow: Historical and cultural stories from Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough. Very interesting reading.


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