Upper South Island and the West Coast: Places to Explore
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park is a stunning-yet-accessible swath of idyllic beaches backed by a rugged hinterland of native beech forests, granite gorges, and waterfalls. Unlike many of New Zealand's...
People mostly come to Blenheim (pronounced bleh-num by the locals) for the wine. There are dozens of wineries in the area, some with stylish cellar doors and restaurants, and Blenheim township is...
A 35-km (22-mile) sandspit that expands tenfold when the tide goes out, Farewell Spit is the home of tens of thousands of seabirds, many of them migrants from the Northern Hemisphere, and is an...
French Pass and D'Urville Island
They're not easy to get to, but if you have an adventurous spirit and don't mind a rough road, French Pass and D'Urville Island are two of the best-kept secrets in the whole top of the South Island.
The road to...
Golden Bay and Takaka
The gorgeous stretch of coastline that begins at Separation Point, in Abel Tasman National Park, and runs westward past Takaka to Farewell Spit is known as Golden Bay, named for the gold discovered there...
The town of Greymouth is aptly named—at first take, it's a rather dispirited strip of motels and industrial buildings stretched along a wild beach. It sits, as the name suggests, at the mouth of...
Known as the Greenshell mussel capital of the world (Greenshells are a variety of green-lipped mussel), Havelock is at the head of Pelorus and Keneperu sounds, and trips on the Pelorus Sound mail...
Hokitika is one of the larger towns along the West Coast, with the pounding ocean before it and bush-covered hills behind. It's a place of simple pleasures: scouting the craft galleries, taking a...
Kahurangi National Park
New Zealand's second largest national park, Kahurangi is 1.1 million acres of marbled mountains with fluted rock forms, arches, shafts, and sinkholes (featured in Lord of the Rings films), remote river...
The town of Kaikoura sits at the base of a peninsula that juts into the ocean from the east coast, and is backed by the steep Kaikoura mountain range. Take it all in from the 360-degree lookout by...
North of Westport, the coastline is squeezed between high mountain ranges and pounding surf. The highlight of the tiny settlements along this stretch is Karamea, known to most people as the...
Motueka (mo-too-eh-ka) is a horticultural center—hops, kiwifruit, and apples are among its staples. The town sits at the seaward end of the Motueka Valley, nestling close to the mountains of...
Surrounded by high mountains and roaring rivers, this small town is in some big country. With Nelson Lakes National Park to the east, Kahurangi National Park to the north, and the Matakitaki,...
Though Nelson's a bustling city, it retains a rural quality. Overlooking Tasman Bay and the foothills of the Bryant and Richmond ranges behind, open farmland, national parks, and vineyards are...
Relaxed, hospitable, and easy to explore on foot, Nelson has a way of always making you feel as though you should stay longer. You can make your way around the mostly two-story town in a day,...
Nelson Lakes National Park
Spread around two spectacular glacial lakes, Rotoroa and Rotoiti, the Nelson Lakes National Park also extends to high mountain passes and rocky peaks, clear-running rivers, and bush-lined trails....
Paparoa National Park
Paparoa National Park extends from the forest-covered Paparoa Range, inland, to the coast. With steep bluffs, limestone basins, canyons, caves, and fluted rock, it's a formidable environment. The...
The maritime township of Picton (population 4,000) is a popular yachting spot and has two sizable marinas, the smaller at Picton Harbour and the much larger at nearby Waikawa Bay. There's plenty...
Westland-Tai Poutini National Park
Westland/Tai Poutini is a place of extremes, from the highest mountains to most ancient rain forest, and certainly extreme precipitation.
One of New Zealand's oldest ports, Westport sits at the mouth of the mighty Buller River. Once a boomtown for two separate gold rushes, it's now a quiet little hub (population 3,100) for the local...
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