Abel Tasman & the North West Holidays

From a 20-mile sandbar echoing with birdsong to quirky coastal towns on classic road and rail routes, the South Island’s north-west corner offers idyllic landscapes and a dash of culture.

In Abel Tasman & The North West, all roads lead to Nelson, it seems. This city of 53,000 on the shores of Tasman Bay is considered one of the country’s most ‘liveable’ places thanks to everything from its balmy climate and beachside setting to its cosmopolitan creative and culinary scene. Follow an art trail to revered galleries, eye-catching murals and craft markets, bag yourself a stylish piece from the jeweller who made the ring for The Lord of the Rings films, and feast on anything from Asian-influenced dumplings to gourmet seafood.

From here, State Highway 60 stretches towards the far north-west, where a 20-mile-long finger of sand points out into the sea from the South Island’s northernmost spot. Lose yourself among the dunes and wetlands of this important bird reserve in search of resident species along with foreign visitors. Retrace your steps to New Zealand’s smallest national park, the pint-sized paradise of Abel Tasman, to follow a Great Walk along sublime coastal terrain where you can snorkel off picture-perfect beaches and maybe even catch a glimpse of a little blue penguin.

State Highway 6, meanwhile, is an iconic road trip that unfurls south-west from Nelson to the west coast through mountain passes and historic gold-mining towns. Lap up the views of soaring wooded slopes, stop off for a pulse-racing white-water rafting trip in Buller Gorge, or follow in the footsteps of 19th-century prospectors on memorable walking trails. Once you reach the sea, there are curious rock formations and quirky seaside towns to explore.

Talk to us about adding the varied sights of Abel Tasman & The North West to your custom-made holiday in New Zealand.

Read more

Abel Tasman & the North West Hotels

Our recommendations for the best places to stay in Abel Tasman & the North West

Awaroa Lodge

Secluded setting in the heart of Abel Tasman National Park

Punakaiki Resort

Remote eco-friendly resort

Marlborough Icons Tour from Blenheim

Depart from Blenheim for this full-day tour which journeys through the renowned Marlborough wine region. Visit wineries and enjoy two fine wine experiences before continuing on through the Marlborough Sounds for a unique seafood cruise. Learn about the local history, visit a marine farm and stop to sample some fresh seafood paired with a glass of sauvignon blanc before your return journey.

• Departs daily
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

Read more

Get to know Abel Tasman & The North West and those important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.


GMT +12 (with New Zealand Daylight Time and New Zealand Standard Time applied, this largely equates to 11 hours ahead of the UK from early April to late September and 13 hours ahead from late September to late March)


New Zealand dollar


25½ hours (not including stopover time)


New Zealand has no state religion but the majority of people are Christian


Māori and English

Where are Abel Tasman & The North West?
The South Island’s north-western corner is fringed by Tasman Bay in the north and the Tasman Sea in the west, with the Marlborough Winelands to the east. The main gateway to the region is Nelson, which is less than two hours by road from where the ferries from the North Island arrive; it also has an airport from where you can fly to various domestic destinations. From here, you’ll need your own wheels to drive the fabulous Nelson to West Coast route through the Buller Gorge or to tackle the coastal road up to the island’s northern point at Farewell Spit via Abel Tasman National Park.

Read more

Centre of New Zealand
The ‘Top of the South’, as it’s sometimes called, is known for its sunny climate, thriving arts scene and glorious seaside setting. Nelson’s diverse attractions mean you could be trekking up through a botanical reserve to a monument marking – not quite accurately – ‘the centre of New Zealand’ one moment and visiting a museum filled with classic cars the next. Stroll the historic centre of the South Island’s oldest city to appreciate its fine Victorian buildings and linger over meals that feature local ingredients and global influences. There are lots of ways to work off the calories in the mountains that hem in the city on three sides, from short circular walks to multi-day trails.

Read more

Abel Tasman National Park
North of Nelson, where limestone and marble hills meet the ocean, the picturesque and remote Abel Tasman National Park is the setting for one of New Zealand’s most popular Great Walks. The 37-mile Coast Track winds through scenic bays and native woodlands, crossing natural inlets and white sand beaches. It takes about five days to complete the whole route, allowing time for cooling swims and admiring the scenery, though it’s perfectly possible to do a much shorter section. Take a boat or kayak trip along the coastline to discover some of the area’s marine life – the adjoining Tonga Island Marine Reserve has crystal-clear water for snorkelling and resident populations of little blue penguins and fur seals.

Read more

Sand dunes and pancake rocks
Stretching for 20 bliss-inducing miles from the South Island’s most northerly settlement, Farewell Spit has been an internationally renowned bird sanctuary for almost 100 years. Its wetlands and cliffs heave with gannets, curlews and bar-tailed godwits, to name just a few of the 112 or so species seen here at different times of the year. Kayak, sail or take a 4x4 safari for word-class twitching along with sculpted sand dunes, clifftop views and a historic lighthouse. Down the west coast, don’t miss Punakaiki’s ancient limestone Pancake Rocks and Blowholes; these curious 30-million-year-old rock formations are one of New Zealand’s most visited natural attractions. Time your visit for high tide for the full splashy effect.

Read more

West-coast towns
The largest town on the South Island’s west coast, Greymouth has shops, cafés and restaurants, impressively scenic surroundings and a fascinating industrial history. From here, you can hop on the TranzAlpine train for a memorable trip across the Southern Alps to Christchurch, pick up the West Coast Wilderness long-distance cycling trail or meander on to Hokitika, a chilled-out beach town dating back to the great Kiwi gold rush of the 1860s. Make the 20-mile detour inland from here to the spectacular Hokitika Gorge, where an easy walk through native forest leads to a swing bridge overlooking turquoise waters hemmed in by sheer granite cliffs.

Read more

Abel Tasman & the North West Weather

Dec - Apr