Here at Sunrise Holidays we’re passionate about getting out and about in the South Island. We’ve created an affordable and customisable 5-day trip from Nelson to the top of Abel Tasman National Park, filled with time for both relaxation and adventure.
While this trip is easy to chop and change, many locations will require booking in advance – so keep that in mind.
If you have picked up your campervan from Picton or Christchurch, we recommend you travel into Nelson and stay at Tahuna Beach Holiday Park, which has powered or non-powered sites to park for the night. This great spot is a short walk to the beach to enjoy an evening stroll.
Day 1: Nelson-Motueka
Don’t just pass through Nelson - spend the day exploring the vibrant city. Visit craft shops, art galleries, museums and cafes. Nelson is rich in culture and history. As New Zealand’s second oldest settled town, there are plenty of things to see and learn. Get around faster with a bike hired from UBike, and pedal around the city centre in ease.
When you're ready to head to Motueka, it’s only a 50 minute drive along State Highway 60 to Motueka Top 10 Holiday Park.The park comes with 5-star facilities, including a spa and heated swimming pool, Wi-Fi, free access to barbeques, coin operated laundry and an adventure playground for the little ones.
Day 2: Motueka to Kaiteriteri
Motueka is the perfect place to spend the day kayaking around Jackett Island and Moutere Inlet and River. Don’t forget to take your camera – you’ll have beautiful views of both land and sea, and maybe even by joined by curious sea creatures such as dolphins or seals.
The Sea Kayak Company is based right in Motueka and offers freedom rental trips or guided tours. Without a doubt the best way to see Able Tasman is by kayak, and if you enjoy Motueka then there are many other kayak hirers and guided trips around the National Park and Golden Bay.
At the end of the day take a leisurely 13km drive to Kaiteriteri Beach Motor Camp, where there are over 400 powered campsites, a barbeque, licenced restaurant, minigolf course and internet access.
Day 3: Kaiteriteri to Takaka
Wake refreshed and walk right down to Kaiteriteri Beach, where you can start your diving adventure by Abel Tasman Dive (remember to book ahead). All gear is provided and you’ll enjoy a 30 minute scenic boat ride as part of the tour.
All tours are guided by a qualified instructor and are for any skill level. Here you'll be able to explore colourful reefs, follow shoals of fish and watch crayfish and octopus feeding and playing.
After your refreshing dive, make your way further down State Highway 60 for an hour to Takaka Camping Ground, close to the local town with plenty of great facilities available.
Day 4: Takaka to Totaranui
Just 7km from the Takaka township lies Anatoki Salmon Farm – the next stop on your great adventure.
Entry here and gear (fishing rods and bait) is free, spend as long as you like relaxing next to the fishing pond and try to catch some lunch – you only pay for what you catch! Your salmon can also be vacuum packed, meaning it will remain fresh for a further 30 days. The farm is also home to a café if you don’t want to fish or don’t like salmon, or there is space available for you to have your own picnic.
From Takaka your next destination is 30km away, to the Totaranui Great Walk Campsite, right next to the beach and close to many beautiful walking tracks.
Day 5: Totaranui
Gibbs Hill is a favourite amongst locals and visitors to trek or bike over or around. We suggest the Totaranui-Gibbs Hill return trip, a walk of 9km that can be achieved at any speed.
From the DOC (Department of Conservation) website:
“From the Totaranui camp office, follow the avenue road and then Abel Tasman Coast Track past the Ngarata Homestead north towards Anapai. At 1.4km just past the concrete bridge turn left at the start of the Gibbs Hill track. The track crosses a ford before a 3km long uphill section begins which has steep sections. At the ridge and next intersection, turn right to Gibbs Hill. From the saddle you can follow a narrow track to the summit a few minutes’ walk away. Great views. Return the same way.”
We hope you enjoy your trip in the Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park region! We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments area below.