Do something new in the Top of the South
Sometimes, the most rewarding and memorable moments of a holiday are as simple as an amazing view, or the discovery of something new. You just have to know where to look – so to help, are some of the Top of the South’s best hidden gems and natural attractions.
Climb Mt Stokes
Towering over the Marlborough Sounds is 1,203m Mount Stokes. Accessible by tramping track, the summit is home to rare sub-alpine plants and affords 360-degree views across the entire Marlborough Sounds and beyond.
Visit Eatwells Lookout
One of the best views on the Queen Charlotte Track is from Eatwell's Lookout. The short steep climb from Punga Cove is worth every step for the incredible views beside the legendary signpost.
Do something new: Take a picnic lunch and enjoy it at the lookout’s picnic table with one of the most stunning views in Marlborough.
Stay on an island
The historic Gunyah Homestead on Arapaoa Island overlooks the entrance to Tory Channel and comes with its own beach. Stay a while, drink in the views and learn about the island’s rich history including the nearby whaling station.
Do something new: Watch the Cook Strait ferries passing below your window.
Visit a penguin
Motuara Island, in the outer Queen Charlotte Sound/Tōtaranui, is a protected bird sanctuary. Take an early morning cruise from Picton to listen to the birdsong and walk to the summit.
Do something new: Peek at the little blue penguins in the nesting boxes.
Discover Cable Bay
One of Nelson Tasman’s most scenic locations, rolling pastures and rocky headlands surround the crystal-clear Cable Bay inlet. A hidden gem just 20-minutes from Nelson City, the Cable Bay walkway offers stunning views over the Horoirangi Marine Reserve and a nearby adventure park offers all the thrills and spills you need for a weekend away.
Do something new: Kayak around the marine reserve and explore the sea caves with Cable Bay Kayaks – you might even see dolphins if you’re lucky!
Golden days in Golden Bay
Golden Bay’s natural attractions easily rival the recognised wonders of the world – and it starts before you crest Takaka Hill, where you can tour the ancient underground wonderland of Ngarua Caves and find moa bones.
A spectacular descent into Takaka takes you to Te Waikoropupū Springs, the largest coldwater springs in the Southern Hemisphere. Don’t miss the Grove Scenic Reserve, an intriguing labyrinth of limestone outcrops and karst walls, and not far from Tata Beach you’ll find the magical Wainui Falls.
In the opposite direction, explore the Puponga Hilltop Track - the best way to see some of Golden Bay’s most iconic landscapes including Cape Farewell and Wharariki Beach, taking in the dramatically carved cliffs and sea caves that adorn the spectacular coastline.
Do something new: Take a tour of Farewell Spit with Farewell Spit Tours, or kayak around the Tata Islands and into the Abel Tasman National Park from the north with Golden Bay Kayaks.
Splendour in the park
Hidden gems are scattered throughout the Abel Tasman National Park’s pristine golden-sand coastline, with some, like iconic Split Apple Rock, best seen from a boat or a kayak. Must-do experiences include the 40-metre Falls River Swing Bridge, bathing at Anapai, kayaking in the Torrent Bay Lagoon, and sliding down the natural waterslide at Cleopatra’s Pool into the rockpools below.
Do something new: A kayak, cruise and walk combo is the perfect opportunity to see the park from all perspectives.
Explore an alpine wonderland
St Arnaud village is the alpine gateway to Nelson Lakes National Park, home to 16 picturesque glacial carved lakes. Picnic beside Lake Rotoiti, indulge in one of the many lakeside bush walks, or head to Rainbow Ski Area and admire the scenery from the top of the slopes.
Do something new: Stay at The Alpine Lodge and hire a canoe to explore the lake, stopping off at the jetty to visit Whisky Falls.