Abel Tasman National Park
The most well-known of the National Parks in the Nelson Tasman region is the Abel Tasman National Park, which is a coastal park blessed with golden beaches and crystal clear water. There are no roads within the park, so access is by boat from the villages of Kaiteriteri and Marahau. These villages are one hour by car from Nelson city. Many companies operate kayaking and walking trips in the Park and for single day trips, regular coach services link Nelson city to Kaiteriteri and Marahau. The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is a 60 km track which runs from end to end and is one of the NZ Great Walks. Water taxis also operate in the Park.
Single day trips in the Abel Tasman National Park:
The easiest way to enjoy a single day trip in the Park is to book a walking or kayaking trip which includes a coach transfer from Nelson city to Kaiteriteri. Boats depart from Kaiteriteri into the Park, returning at the end of the day for the coach transfer back to Nelson. Wilsons Abel Tasman provide a wide range of single day options, including flexible day passes. Kayaking trips need to be pre-booked especially during the high season from Christmas through to the end of January. Our favourite walking option is the 4 hour walking trip, Swing Bridge, Bush and Beach, with highlights including forest groves, coastal views and a spectacular swing bridge. For the full day option, the trip departs from Kaiteriteri at 9.20am, returning 4.15pm.
Multi-day trips in the Abel Tasman National Park:
There is limited accommodation within the Park, as most of the land is publicly owned.
Wilsons Abel Tasman operate multi day trips in the Park, staying at their beachfront lodges. These guided walking, or kayak and walk trips are fully inclusive of all accommodation and food. There is also a high quality lodge in the Park. Awaroa Lodge is accessible by boat, plane, or helicopter and transfers directly from Nelson to Awaroa Lodge can be arranged.
Awaroa Glamping is a family business located in Awaroa. All glamping tents are full furnished. Kitchen and bathroom facilities are provided and wood-fired pizzas are available.
Abel Tasman Aquapackers is a floating backpackers anchored in a bay in the Park.
Water taxis can be booked to transfer gear while tramping in the Park.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) maintains 4 tramping huts and 19 campsites on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track. Huts and campsites need to be booked in advance all year round. Huts do not contain cooking facilities.
Kahurangi National Park
Kahurangi National Park lies one and a half hours west of Nelson city and the snow-topped peaks of Mt Arthur, the highest mountain in the park, are visible from the city during winter, providng tangible evidence of snow in the air. The Kahurangi is NZ’s second largest national park, with wild rivers, high plateaux and alpine herb fields, and coastal forests. Activities in the park include tramping, camping and mountain biking. The Heaphy Track is the most well-known tramping route in the park and this track is also open to mountain biking from 1 May to 30 November. Huts must be booked in advance. The landscape on the Heaphy Track includes tussock downs and lush forests, and kiwi can often be heard in this area at night. The surprising carnivorous landsnail, Powelliphanta... is also prevalent in this area and walkers can expect to meet one on the track. Their size – around 3cm across – makes them easy to spot in open ground. For those looking for a wonderful day trip, the walk through beech forest up Mt Arthur is a great option and suitable for families and children.
Nelson Lakes National Park
Nelson Lakes National Park lies one and a half hours south of Nelson city and is the location of two alpine lakes. The largest of these is Lake Rotoiti and the village on it’s shores is named St Arnaud. This crystal clear lake is popular in summer for trout fishing, boating and camping. The Department of Conservation have a visitor centre here and this is the base of the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project, which has been running a predator trapping programme for many years. The bird-life in the beech forest around the lake makes it a popular venue for walking. There is a growing network of mountain biking trails in a valley near the village. The second lake in the park, Lake Rotoroa is less heavily populated and approximately half an hour from Lake Rotoiti. Nelson Lakes National Park contains Lake Rotomairewhenua, officially named “the clearest lake in the world”. There is no vehicle access to this lake.