Abel Tasman and Nelson
Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand’s smallest national park, but its most-visited, and for good reason! Known for its golden beaches sandwiched between crystal blue waters and lush forests, this little park packs a lot of punch. It’s home to the Abel Tasman Coastal Track which typically takes 3-5 days to complete, in addition to a handful of beautiful day hikes. It’s the perfect place to rent (or charter) a boat and some kayaks to explore the coastlines from the water.
Abel Tasman forms a triangle of wilderness on the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island with the Nelson Lakes National Park to the south and Kahurangi National Park to the west. Most lodges are actually outside the parks, so it’s quite easy to take day trips throughout the entire region.
This corner of the country is easily accessible from Nelson, which hosts its own commercial airport. Nelson is a funky little city with museums, galleries, quaint shops and restaurants, and some of New Zealand’s best craft breweries. The coastal towns you’ll pass on your drive from Nelson to Abel Tasman are quirky little artist meccas, so be sure to give yourself time to stop and explore them before getting absorbed by the natural beauty of the region.