Golden sand, private beaches, quirky cafes and one of the great walks of the world–the top of the South Island is literally my paradise.
The Nelson-Tasman district is one of those areas where there is literally not enough hours in the day or months of the year to properly experience all that this amazing place can offer. But I took up the challenge to make the most of my four days in this insanely beautiful region and to make sure your time here is as spectacular as mine, here are my seven golden rules for experiencing the top of the South (and for anyone who doesn’t already have this area on there bucket list….seven reasons why you should immediately put it to the top of your list!)
7. Visit Pupu Springs
It’s real name is Te Waikoropupu Springs (Pupu Springs for short) these waters located in Golden Bay are sacred to the Maori–and for a good reason! The water clarity and colour is insane! The springs have eight vents that release 14,000 litres of water per second–and the constant filtration is what makes these waters have such a special visibility. Before new sanctions were placed on Pupu Springs, scuba divers could explore these magical waters, but now the can only be viewed from a place on land.
6. Collect sea shells on the beach!
Who doesn’t love collecting sea shells?! The Nelson-Tasman district has an endless supply of shells that are unique to each beach–in shape, size and colour.
So it is definitely advised to take a little piece of this paradise back with you, just be warned of the crazy sand flies you might have to endure while collecting.
5. Conquer the sand dunes of Wharariki Beach and Farewell Spit
Located at the top of Golden Bay, Wharariki Beach is home to Archway Island, massive sand dunes and the cutest baby pups you will ever meet! A thirty minute trek through farmland and native bush will bring you to a sandy coastline with crazy rock formations and tidal pools full of seals.
It’s easy to get sucked into watching these seals for hours on end, and with landscape like this you can easily spend the whole day on this beach.
But make sure to leave enough time to head over to Farewell Spit, which is just ten minutes up the road from this beach.
If you though the sand dunes were crazy on Wharariki, just wait until you get to Farewell….they go on for miles and miles!
4. Enjoy doing nothing on a secluded beach
Want a beach with no people or a hint of civilization? No problem! Golden Bay and Abel Tasman National Park are absolutely full of private little beaches that you can claim all to yourself. Nothing recharges the soul like a day spent lying on golden sand with rays of sunshine glistening on the water.
3. Get your daily dose of coffee at a quirky cafe
Ahhh I am a sucker for finding cute little cafes to start my day in. And there are no short supply of them up in the top of the South! Make sure to have your morning indulgence at T.O.A.D in Motueka or The Wholemeal Cafe in Takaka.
2. Walk and/or kayak through the Abel Tasman National Park
Whether by foot or in a kayka, Abel Tasman National Park is an experience you don’t want to miss! And if time permits, I highly recommend experiencing it both ways! Venturing through the entire national park can take up to three days, but you can also make easy day trips from either ends of the park.
Walking Abel Tasman allows you to have a complete bush/coastal experience. With hundreds of native plants, scenic look outs and baches to sleep in, it’s no surprise Abel Tasman is considered one of the Great Walks of NZ (and arguably the world!).
But then, kayaking the Abel Tasman is just as incredible. The first portion of the park, starting from Kaiteriteri, is the most popular. Here you can reach the photogenic Split Apple Rock along with many cute and cozy beach stop-offs. However, you can also start the kayaking exploration from the other side in Golden Bay. With rock-archways to kayak through and a non-congested kayak route to peacefully enjoy, this side gives you a perspective of Abel Tasman that not as many kayakers reach.
But no matter what method or starting point you journey through Abel Tasmen, it will definitely not disappoint.
1. Be amazed by the pastel colours of Nelson’s morning skies.