The Tasman District covers the western corner of the Northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island. While that might be a mouthful to say, the Tasman is one of the most breathtaking places to visit. Bordered by mountains and the Tasman Sea, this slice of heaven is rich with nature and culture. Planning a New Zealand vacation? Think Tasman.

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Aporo Pondsiders
Cottage Sleeps 8
Rates 300 - 340 NZD
Rowan Cottage Organic B&B
B&B Sleeps 4
Rates 110 - 150 NZD
Orchard View
Cottage Sleeps 5
Rates 95 - 135 NZD
Resurgence Luxury Eco Lodge
Lodge Sleeps 14
Rates 595 - 945 NZD

Tasman Vacations: Things to see while on vacation in New Zealand

Tasman Geography

The landscape is diverse, flaunting mountains, valleys and plains, cut across by great rivers and native flora and fauna. The area is rich in limestone, and is known for its extensive cave networks, such as New Zealand’s deepest caves at Ellis Basin and Nettlebed. But what do the local ‘Kiwis’ go to the Tasman for? In the summer, the golden sand beaches are speckled with tanned sun lovers, swimming, snorkelling and kayaking in the clear blue waters.

Tasman History

If you’re wondering who was lucky enough to stumble across this land while it was still quiet and still, it was the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman. He was the first immigrant to discover New Zealand, along with parts of other Oceanic countries such as Tasmania in the South of Australia and various islands of Tonga. On December 18 1642, Tasman and his crew anchored in Golden Bay, several kilometers off the northern coast of Abel Tasman National Park.

And these two places are two of the most popular summer-time destinations. Golden Bay is a slow-paced, sun drenched bay, famous for its laid back ‘hippies’ and relaxed atmosphere. Imagine alpine valleys, sparkling waves and a picturesque view left, right and centre. Takaka and Collingwood are the two major (but tiny and welcoming) towns to base yourself in during your stay in Golden Bay.

Tasman Landmarks

The bay’s natural landscape includes Farewell Spit, another popular day trip, which is a 26km long arm of fine, golden sand. It’s New Zealand’s longest sandspit and is definitely worth the drive. Known to the native Maori as Tuhuroa, this lengthy stretch of sand actually extends another 6km underwater, thanks to the erosion of the neighbouring cliffs. The cinematic view features sand dunes, a lighthouse and sea birds.

Abel Tasman National Park is another must on your New Zealand vacation. It is one of three national parks in the Tasman District, and is the most frequented one. It’s New Zealand’s smallest national park, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. Abel Tasman National Park is a coastal paradise where you can walk, sail, swim or - sleep! You can find many New Zealand vacation rentals in this inviting spot.

Here you can walk one of New Zealand’s top hikes. The Abel Tasman Coastal Track takes between 3-5 days to complete and gives you a tour of native forest and stunning beaches. Take a tent or book a bed in a DOC hut, but make sure to pack enough food to last the trip! If you don’t have days to invest, take the afternoon to walk a few hours and then walk back. Trust us, it’s well worth it.

Kahurangi National Park one the other hand, is the second largest national park in New Zealand. Marble mountains and palm fringed beaches fence in some of the country’s oldest rocks, strangest plants and rarest birds. The big walk here is the Heaphy Track, which is another of New Zealand’s greatest walks. This track also takes between 3-5 days to complete.

And last but not least, the Nelson Lakes National Park. The two large lakes in the center of this park are Rotoiti and Rotoroa. You can embark on a short walk or a multi day hike, or go fishing, boating or mountain biking. All you need is sunblock, water and the spirit of adventure!

Nelson is the name of the main centre in the Tasman District and is known for being the sunniest place in New Zealand, due to the generous hours of sunlight it receives. Nelson has a small town feel with the modern day comforts of a city lifestyle. The locals here are friendly, relaxed and stereotypically surfers and/or artists. With an enviable climate of warm days and cool nights, it’s no surprise that the people here are just as balanced.

If you want to reach the centre of New Zealand, you’ve come to the right place. Okay, so it’s not actually the centre of New Zealand, but in the early days of European settlement they thought it was. Still, you can walk up Botanical Hill and reach the ‘center’ in a short amount of time to gaze down at a postcard view of Nelson. But be warned - it’s steep!

Aside from its ideal climate and whimsical piece of history, Nelson is famous for its wine, nature and art. It is the oldest city in the South Island and the second oldest settled city in New Zealand, which can be seen in its beautiful architecture. It is home to a thriving art scene, which can be seen at the weekend market. Wood carvers, pottery artists, painters and more can be found on every street.

Nelson is also home to World of Wearable Art, also known as WOW. This museum exhibits a colourful array of wearable arts costumes after the annual World of Wearable Art Awards Show in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. If you're seeking a bit of inspiration, be sure to check out this space. Who needs to watch Project Runway on TV when you can live and breathe outlandish creations?

All in all, the Tasman District is one of the most beautiful regions in New Zealand. It has a low population density, but if you go in the summer you're bound to cross paths with others chasing the sun. Nelson is a breezy one hour and a half plane ride from Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, or a quick forty minutes from Wellington.