Nelson to Golden Bay


Start your journey in Nelson, known for its vibrant arts scene and beautiful beaches. Drive through the scenic Tasman region, stopping at the Abel Tasman National Park for some kayaking or a scenic walk along the coastal track. Continue to Golden Bay, where you can explore the Farewell Spit, a nature reserve home to many bird species, and the crystal-clear waters of Te Waikoropupu Springs. This route offers a mix of cultural experiences, outdoor adventures, and breathtaking natural beauty.

Embark on a captivating self-drive journey from Nelson to Golden Bay, where art meets nature, creating an unforgettable four-day adventure. This itinerary is meticulously crafted to ensure you experience the best of dining, accommodation, and activities, immersing you in the unique beauty and culture of this region.

Day 1: Nelson – Discovering the Artistic Hub

Morning: Begin your journey in Nelson, a city celebrated for its vibrant arts scene. Start with a visit to the Nelson Market (if it’s a weekend), where local artisans display their crafts. Follow this with a stroll through the city’s streets, adorned with galleries and studios. Don’t miss the World of WearableArt & Classic Cars Museum, a unique blend of fashion and automotive excellence.

Lunch: Enjoy a leisurely lunch at The Boat Shed Café, perched over the water with views of the bay, offering fresh local seafood and produce.

Afternoon: Spend your afternoon at Tahunanui Beach, soaking up the sun or trying your hand at stand-up paddleboarding.

Dinner: Dine at Hopgood’s & Co., known for its exquisite cuisine and extensive wine list featuring local Nelson wines.

Accommodation: Stay at The Sails Nelson, a luxury accommodation option with modern, spacious rooms and close proximity to the city center.

Day 2: Nelson to Abel Tasman National Park – Adventure Awaits

Destination: Kaiteriteri/Abel Tasman National Park Distance: Approximately 60 km

Morning: Depart early for Kaiteriteri, the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park. Here, embark on a water taxi or join a guided kayak tour to explore the park’s stunning beaches and clear turquoise waters. Highlights include Split Apple Rock and the seals at Tonga Island Marine Reserve.

Lunch: Pack a picnic to enjoy on one of the secluded beaches, or dine at Kaiteriteri Beach Café, offering delightful dishes with a view.

Afternoon: Continue your exploration of the park or take a hike on part of the Abel Tasman Coast Track, offering breathtaking views and access to hidden coves.

Dinner: Return to Kaiteriteri and enjoy dinner at The Beached Whale Restaurant and Bar, known for its relaxed atmosphere and hearty meals.

Accommodation: Overnight at Kimi Ora Eco Resort, nestled in the hills above Kaiteriteri, offering spa facilities and stunning views of the Tasman Bay.

Day 3: Kaiteriteri to Takaka – Exploring Golden Bay

Destination: Takaka Distance: Approximately 130 km

Morning: After breakfast, take the scenic drive over Takaka Hill, known as the marble mountain, stopping at the Ngarua Caves to marvel at its stalactites and stalagmites.

Lunch: Arrive in Takaka and enjoy lunch at The Wholemeal Café, a local favorite known for its wholesome food and quirky décor.

Afternoon: Spend your afternoon exploring the Te Waikoropupū Springs, renowned for some of the clearest water ever measured. Then, visit the Grove Scenic Reserve, a magical place with limestone formations and lush vegetation.

Dinner: Dine at Dangerous Kitchen, offering a diverse menu with fresh, local ingredients and a cozy atmosphere.

Accommodation: Stay at Ratanui Lodge in Pohara, offering elegant rooms and exceptional hospitality, a short drive from Takaka.

Day 4: Exploring Golden Bay – Farewell Spit to Wharariki Beach

Morning: Begin your day with a guided tour of Farewell Spit, a nature reserve on a sand spit extending into the sea, home to diverse birdlife and stunning landscapes.

Lunch: Enjoy a picnic lunch on the tour or head back to Pohara and grab a bite at Mad Café, known for its delicious coffee and casual eats.

Afternoon: Visit Wharariki Beach, accessible by a short walk through farmland. This remote beach is famous for its dramatic rock formations and seal colonies. It’s an ideal spot for photography and soaking in the rugged beauty of New Zealand’s coastline.

Evening: Conclude your journey with a reflective evening at your accommodation or explore local nightlife in Takaka, embracing the laid-back vibe of Golden Bay.

This 4-day self-drive itinerary from Nelson to Golden Bay is designed to immerse you in the natural beauty, artistic culture, and adventurous spirit of the region. From the artistic streets of Nelson to the serene beaches of Abel Tasman National Park and the mystical charm of Golden Bay, you’ll leave with memories of stunning landscapes, engaging activities, and the warm hospitality of the locals. Whether you’re kayaking among the seals, exploring underground caves, or simply relaxing on a golden beach, this journey offers a slice of paradise at every turn.