The sun shines brightest in Nelson. Nelson's diverse geography captures everything from the long golden beaches to untouched forests and rugged mountains. There are more than 350 working artists and craftspeople living in Nelson, traditional, contemporary and Maori. Visit their studios and find a unique piece to take home with you. Nelson is also home to three treasured parks: Abel Tasman National Park with its clear sheltered coastline, Tonga Island Marine Reserve boasting turquoise waters and the Abel Tasman Coast Track designated as one of New Zealand's "9 Great Walks.”
- Airlie Beach
- Kingfisher Bay (Fraser Island)
- Norfolk Island
- Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island)
- Perth (Fremantle)
- Phillip Island
- Thursday Island
- Whitsunday Island
Most Active or Strenuous
Minimal Activity Required
Enjoy a leisurely drive through Nelson, a historical city named for Admiral Horatio Nelson. The region is known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, national parks, boutique wineries, micro-breweries and a large creative community of working artists. Add to this locally grown produce, freshly caught seafood, historical streetscapes and waterfront restaurants and you'll see that it offers a thoroughly pleasurable way of life.
After departing from the pier, you will soon arrive in the heart of Nelson, a city tucked along the Tasman Bay. You will discover a delightfully compact city founded in 1858. Nelson and the surrounding area are often called the “Top of the South” because they occupy the northernmost tip of the New Zealand’s South Island.
Nelson tends to clock more hours of sunshine than any other city in the country, so chances are you will experience ideal weather while touring. One of Nelson’s most cherished natural highlights is the Maitai River, which gently flows through town before emptying into the bay.
Today, much of Nelson’s reputation rests on its artistic flair. Galleries are abundant with artists working in gold, glass and other media. Before returning to the pier, you will stop to browse at one of them.
At the end of the tour, guests will have the option of returning directly to the pier, or remaining in town to further explore on their own and return at their leisure and own expense.
Please note: The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off the vehicle, and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. This tour operates with a driver/guide. The tour sequence and sights viewed may vary.
Take an exhilarating helicopter ride over Abel Tasman National Park, an absolutely gorgeous landscape named for the Dutch explorer that anchored here in 1642.
After departing from the pier, you will soon arrive at the helipad and board a helicopter for an unforgettable ride over the Abel Tasman National Park. As the helicopter’s blades begin to whirl, the excitement builds, a feeling that only increases with take off.
The flight will take you high above New Zealand’s smallest national park, which is known for its immense beauty. Golden beaches and limestone cliffs fringe the exquisite coastline, and seals and dolphins are commonly spotted frolicking in the turquoise waters. You may also see hikers along the coastal trail, kayakers and sailboats, as the national park can only be accessed on foot, by sea or by helicopter.
After a flight of approximately 20 minutes over the park, you will land at the eco-friendly Peppers Awaroa Lodge, which is surrounded by a forest that is home to birds such as the boisterous tui and olive-green makomako. Upon landing, you will have 1 hour of free time in which you may visit the lodge, walk along a nature trail in the woods or stroll the beach, which is owned by the public. Interestingly, the money to purchase the beach was raised online through a crowd-funding campaign, ensuring that it will be preserved in perpetuity.
Following your time here, you will return to the helicopter and fly back to the helipad. Depending on the route, you may see the estuaries where the indigenous Maori lived for more than 500 years before Tasman arrived.
Please note: Walking on this tour is primarily at the guests’ discretion during the stop at Awaroa Lodge. There will be some steps, and sandy and uneven surfaces to negotiate for those who choose to walk along the beach or a nature trail. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and may not be suitable for those with mobility concerns as there is a high step to negotiate to enter and exit the helicopter. Those who suffer from motion sickness should take the necessary precautions prior to the commencement of the tour. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen and flat, comfortable walking shoes that are appropriate for the beach are recommended. The helicopter has a maximum capacity of 6 guests. This tour may be cancelled in the event of inclement weather conditions.
Cruise the stunningly beautiful coast of Abel Tasman National Park and then enjoy the serenity of Awaroa Beach, one of New Zealand’s most unspoiled stretches of sand.
After departing from the pier, you will settle in for a leisurely drive across the fertile Waimea Plains and around Tasman Bay to gorgeous Kaiteriteri Beach. Upon arriving, you will board a large catamaran which features a hydraulic extending gangway that enables you to board without getting your feet wet. Once everyone is settled in, you’ll begin a scenic cruise around the isolated coves, sheltered inlets and granite headlands of Abel Tasman National Park.
Although New Zealand’s smallest national park, Abel Tasman overcompensates for its size with stunning beauty. Golden beaches and limestone cliffs fringe the exquisite coastline, and seals and dolphins are commonly spotted frolicking in the turquoise waters. There are no roads within the park. It can only be accessed on foot, by sea or air, which ensures that it will remain exceptionally private and pristine.
As you cruise along, you will pass Bark Bay and crescent-shaped Onatahuti Beach before arriving at lovely Awaroa Beach. Tucked away in the regenerating forest, you’ll find the elegant and eco-friendly Peppers Awaroa Lodge where you will be treated to lunch in the outdoor courtyard. Afterwards, you’ll have some free time at the beach.
This stretch of sand is known as much for its beauty as being owned by the public. The money to purchase it was raised online through a crowd-funding campaign. Donations ranged from children pledging a dollar to corporations giving tens of thousands of dollars.
The inspiringly scenic beach is now preserved in perpetuity. After enjoying the setting, you will re-board your catamaran and cruise directly back to the pier.
Please note: Walking on this tour is primarily at the guests’ discretion during the stop at Awaroa Beach. There will be some steps, sandy and uneven surfaces to negotiate. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off both the coach and the catamaran, and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Those with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. The drive will include some hairpin turns. Those who suffer from motion sickness should take the necessary precautions prior to the commencement of the tour. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen and flat, comfortable walking shoes that are appropriate for the beach are recommended. Guests must be at least 18 years of age to be served any alcoholic beverages. The catamaran is not air-conditioned but does have a restroom on board.
Delve into the regional art scene by visiting several unusual museums and then watching artisans create various works in gold, glass and other media.
After departing from the pier, you will soon arrive at a museum devoted to two vastly different subjects: wearable art and classic cars. It makes for an unforgettable experience.
The pieces in the wearable art gallery change yearly and are chosen from an annual show that highlights ingenious art that may be worn. Past pieces have included wooden undergarments, surreal honeycomb-like headdresses, and flowing dresses that reflect Maori myths.
The classic car gallery celebrates the art of motoring through rare automobiles. The collection ranges from a 1919 Stutz Bearcat to Ford Mustangs to convertible Jaguars, all of them beautifully restored to mint condition.
Art is revered throughout Nelson and the local artists express themselves in various media, as you will discover at the Nelson Provincial Museum. You will meet carvers that work in bone and jade, and you may watch them create new works of art. It’s an excellent introduction to your next stop, Jens Hansen jewelry.
The goldsmiths here created the iconic One Ring depicted in the “Lord of the Rings” movies, which were shot entirely in New Zealand. The shop also carries a huge selection of other handcrafted jewelry such as bracelets, necklaces and pearl pendants.
Your final stop will be at Flame Daisy, where you will watch glass blowers create colorful artwork with a Kiwi flair. Afterwards, you will return to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes just under 2 1/2 hours of easy to moderate walking/standing that includes some uneven surfaces and steps to negotiate. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off the coach and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Those with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
Savor a selection of wines and food pairings at four award-winning vineyards in nearby Mouture Hills and Waimea Plains, two prime but vastly different wine-growing areas.
After departing from the pier, you will ascend to an elevated lookout for a panoramic view of the two distinct wine-growing regions near Nelson. From here, your circular yet scenic drive brings you across the Waimea plains which produces lighter wines than those produced in the Moutere Hills area, which is where grapes were first planted the mid-1800s.
You will then tour four family-owned wineries in these regions and sample a selection of characteristic wines, often paired with complementary snacks. You can expect to visit Milcrest Estate, which sits on the alluvial terrace of the Waimea River and produces five wines. Among them is Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand’s most widely planted varietal. Pungently aromatic, it assails the senses with bell pepper and gooseberry characters.
The nearby winery Greenhough also produces Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir with berry-fruit, citrus and floral notes. As the Pinot Noir opens up, earth and mushroom notes evolve.
Mahana Estates has vineyards in both Moutere Hills and Waimea Plains and produces a greater variety of wines. The Mahana Clays & Gravels series of wines is the most expressive and powerful. For example, the Riesling displays the aroma and flavor of red apples and lemon-lime sherbet.
Finally, there’s the boutique winery Kina Beach. The Reserve Pinot Noir is always a favorite, as its palate is cherry, dark chocolate and Doris Plum. Here you will enjoy a snack pairing with the wines before returning to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes just over 4 hours of moderate standing/walking that includes some uneven surfaces and steps to negotiate. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and not considered suitable for those who have difficulty walking or standing for significant periods of time. The drive will include some hairpin turns so those who suffer from motion sickness should take the necessary precautions prior to the commencement of the tour. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Guests must be at least 18 years of age to take part in the wine tastings. The tour sequence may vary and wineries may be substituted due to operational reasons. While there is no lunch served on this tour, there will be generous food tastings at two of the wineries.