The perfect elixir of wilderness and suburbia, Nelson proves itself as a primo New Zealand destination for all ages; as long as you remember the bug spray. Autumn is a truly stunning time to visit the region, landscape inundated with rich orange hues. The humble Nelson airport is situated 5-15 minutes from the rest of town making it easy to navigate to your accommodation.
Day One: Takaka Hills, Golden Bay, Te Waikoropupū Springs & Anatoki Salmon Farm.
Make the trek over the mighty Takaka Hills to reside in the Golden Bay area for the day. Here you will find an overwhelming amount of walks, waterfalls and activities, limiting yourself to just one day here is almost cruel. Stop for caffeine at Courtyard cafe to fuel yourself for the day ahead.
First stop, Te Waikoropupū Springs. These are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand. Their flirtatious crystal blue water makes it hard not to jump in, however, please don’t be a noob and do so, these springs are sacred. The short loop track will leave you almost as speechless as the amount selfie sticks you’ll spot tourists with here. Truly gram worthy.
From the springs continue the blissful drive around the coast to Tata Beach for a picnic lunch. Should you not find Freshchoice supermarket rolls and hummus a satisfactory lunch, takeaway spots are scattered (scarcely) en route to Tata Beach. Enjoy the course caramel coloured sand and uncrowded blue waters of Tata Beach.
If you have some extra hands on the clock, check out the Grove Walk or Wainui waterfall which are both located on the route back to town.
If you like salmon, fishing at Anatoki Salmon Farm is an essential addition to your trip. Summon your inner Bear Grylls and cast your rod, the fishing pool literally contains thousands, so you won’t be disappointed. The experience is truly wholesome, set at the bottom of a valley rife with stunning New Zealand landscape.
While the sun’s still awake make the journey back over the Takaka Hills.If you’re parched after a hard day adventuring then stop at The Toad, a great eatery in Motueka.
Day 2: Nelson Lakes National Park & Tahunanui Beach
Set off early to the Nelson Lakes National Park. The journey is around 1hour 30 from Nelson township. The Mount Roberts track is a great day walk if you’re short on time. It took us about 3 hours to complete the track, not one if you’re feeling dusty as a steep incline is included! The area is utterly stunning, picture perfect hills race down to meet Lake Rotoiti’s edge.
Bellies will be hungry after the 3-hour walk, so pack a lunch and enjoy lakeside. A note of caution: sandflies will be out to get you so make sure to pack bug spray.
Carrying on the theme of picnics and pretty landscapes head down to the main Nelson beach, Tahunanui Beach for sunset. Whatever your poison, the quality Nelson takeaway scene will be sure to cater.
Day Three: Nelson Markets, Wine-tasting & Mapua Wharf
After an action-packed few days unwind a little with the Saturday morning market. These markets scatter the town’s main streets so won’t be hard to miss. Fresh Nelson produce, art and clothes are all plentiful. A developing cafe scene in Nelson means you will be able to find a drop of liquid gold after your morning market antics.
The best thing about a city flush with vineyards is the wine-tasting, of course. So jump on a bike, grab a sober friend or pile on one of the many organised tours for a day tasting in sunny Nelson. Have a look at the various wineries that offer tastings here.
End your tour in Mapua Wharf, where old meets new in spectacular fashion. Funky art shops combine with newly developed eateries to provide a well-rounded wharf area. We devoured lunch at The Apple Shed followed by ice-cream at Alberta’s both exceeding expectations.