Immerse in the great outdoors
From paddle board yoga to skydiving and ziplining, cycling through the vineyards or kayaking the coastline, the Top of the South is packed with all the romance, fun and adventure you need for a weekend away with a loved one.
If you’re happiest on the water, the entire Top of the South is your oyster.
Paddle the coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park or the tranquil Marlborough Sounds in a sea kayak for a day or for more, or opt for a guided trip with a local guide to ensure you see all the best spots.
For something a bit different, explore in a double or single hulled outrigger canoe with Waka Abel Tasman, while learning more about Aotearoa’s unique heritage and traditional Māori custom. From Picton, explore that heritage further by exploring Ship Cove/Meretoto, the site of some of the earliest sustained contact between Māori and Europeans. Beachcomber and Cougar Line visit the cove daily and can transport sea kayaks.
At Nelson’s Tahunanui Beach, renting a paddleboard is one of the best ways to explore the pristine Tasman Bay coastline, including Fifeshire Rock, Haulashore Island and the Boulder Bank. A paddleboard yoga class offers a relaxing water-based experience, whilst a more adventurous paddle in Cable Bay circles the rugged coastline and sea caves of Pepin Island.
On dry land, Tasman’s Great Taste Trail is the perfect way create your own bespoke journey by bike. The 174km trail begins at the Nelson i-SITE and loops the region. Along the way, taste delicious local food, wine, beer and cider, stay in amazing accommodation and discover local activities and stunning landscapes. Be sure to include the 1.4km Spooners Railway Tunnel, the longest decommissioned rail tunnel in the Southern Hemisphere.
In Picton, ride the Link Pathway connecting Picton and Havelock, or venture onto the many other local walking and mountain biking trails.
On the Wairau Plains near Blenheim, hire a bike and pedal between wineries independently, or choose a guided tour.
Custom art trail
The Top of the South is widely known for its vibrant art scene, so creating your own art trail is a great way to explore.
Begin in the beautiful Moutere Hills, a magnet for sculptors, ceramic artists, woodworkers and artisan food producers. Nearby, Höglund Art Glass has been a mainstay of Nelson’s art scene for decades, where you can marvel at intricate glass creations and watch glass blowing in action.
In Nelson city, the Suter Art Gallery, one of New Zealand’s oldest cultural venues with a modern twist, is a must-do. Mix gallery visits with a tour of Nelson’s murals: From the urban jungle at 1903 Square to the giant waterfront window on Rocks Road, this is a fun way explore urban art, best enjoyed by bike.
In Picton, the Good Day Gallery has an impressive private collection of contemporary New Zealand art, while the long-established Diversion Gallery is often a big surprise to art lovers and collectors.
Barrels of fun
For those who prefer their holiday with a side of adrenaline, head for the longest Skywire in the world at Cable Bay Adventure Park near Nelson.
So high you can see Mt Taranaki on a clear day from the top, the four-person flying fox reaches 100kph and once you reach the end, you do it again – backwards.
Across Tasman Bay, adventure options include canyoning in, or skydiving over, the Abel Tasman National Park, while south near Murchison, you can go rafting or jetboating down the powerful Buller River through narrow gorges.
For slightly less adrenaline but barrels of fun, visit the Pelorus River between Nelson and Blenheim, for the unique Hobbit Barrel Run Kayak Tour, where the famous barrel scene of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was filmed.