Upper South Island and the West Coast: Places to Explore


  • Abel Tasman National Park

  • Around Nelson

    Though Nelson's a bustling city, it retains a rural quality. With Tasman Bay before it and the foothills of the Bryant and Richmond ranges behind, open countryside, national parks, and vineyards are within... Read more

  • Blenheim

    People mostly come to Blenheim (pronounced bleh-num by the locals) for the wine. There are dozens of wineries in the area, and Blenheim is developing fast, though it still has a small-town veneer, with... Read more

  • Golden Bay and Takaka

    The gorgeous stretch of coastline that begins at Separation Point and runs westward past Takaka is known as Golden Bay, named for the gold discovered there in the 1850s. Alternating sandy and rocky shores... Read more

  • Greymouth

    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 the Grey... Read more

  • Havelock

    Known as the Greenshell mussel capital of the world (Greenshells are a variety of green-lipped mussel), Havelock is at the head of Pelorus Sound, and trips around this sound on the Pelorus Sound mail boat... Read more

  • Hokitika

    Hokitika is the pick of the towns running down the West Coast, with the pounding ocean before it and the bush-covered hills behind. It's a place of simple pleasures: scouting the crafts galleries, taking... Read more

  • Kahurangi National Park

  • Kaikoura

    The town of Kaikoura sits on a rocky protrusion on the east coast, backed by an impressive mountainous upthrust. View it from the expansive lookout up on Scarborough Street. Sperm whales frequent this coast... Read more

  • Karamea

    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 southern entry... Read more

  • Motueka

    Motueka (mo-too-eh-ka) is an agricultural center—hops, kiwifruit, and apples are among its staples. The town sits at the seaward end of the Motueka Valley, under the ranges of the Kahurangi National Park... Read more

  • Murchison

    Surrounded by high mountains and roaring rivers, this small town is in some big country. With the Nelson Lakes National Park to the east, the Kahurangi National Park to the north, and the Matakitaki, Buller... Read more

  • Nelson

    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, poking into... Read more

  • Nelson Lakes National Park

  • Paparoa National Park

  • Picton

    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 to do in... Read more

  • Westland National Park

  • Westport

    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 farming... Read more