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Nelson and Marlborough Complete Guide

In our ‘Complete Guide’ series, we’re going to be visiting some of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations and getting the inside track from our GO Explore followers on the best places to stay, eat, drink, sunbathe and more. Instead of just finding out what the guidebooks tell you, find out what the locals and the travellers think when it comes to the best place to get an ice cream, the best fish and chips and the best cocktail you’ll ever taste!

The next in our series of Complete Guides takes us to the regions of Nelson and Marlborough at the northern tip of the South Island. Regarded by many as one of the most unspoilt regions of New Zealand, Nelson enjoys a year round sunshine and is known as one of the sunniest places in the country. The Abel Tasman National Park is without a doubt one of the most spectacular national parks in the country, renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs and world-famous coastal track. The top of the South Island is a stunning place to spend some time at any time of the year and our complete guide will give you the low down on the best places to stay, eat, drink as well as letting you in on some of the best activities and top places to visit here. Let’s get GOing!

  • Nelson

    Nelson

    Definitely the biggest city at the top of the South Island, Nelson is a great place to base yourself for exploring the region no matter what you have planned. From Nelson, Kaiteriteri is just a short 1 hour drive from where you can explore the Abe

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    Definitely the biggest city at the top of the South Island, Nelson is a great place to base yourself for exploring the region no matter what you have planned. From Nelson, Kaiteriteri is just a short 1 hour drive from where you can explore the Abel Tasman National Park by water taxi or on a cruise. Alternatively, if you want to go and do some wine tasting, Marlborough’s wine capital of Blenheim is just over an hour and a half away by car. Nelson itself has a lot going on and there is plenty to see and do in the city making it a great place to head for a weekend away.

  • Picton

    Picton

    Picton is often bypassed by many visitors to New Zealand but it has so much to offer. Picton is the arrival or departure port for those crossing between the North and South Islands across the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. It is so much m

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    Picton is often bypassed by many visitors to New Zealand but it has so much to offer. Picton is the arrival or departure port for those crossing between the North and South Islands across the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. It is so much more than a transit town and has so much to offer. The scenic waterfront location is a beautiful backdrop for this laid back town which is also the gateway to the Queen Charlotte Sounds, one of New Zealand’s hidden gems when it comes to walking and biking. You can also access the Marlborough Sounds from Picton making this a great place to head for the weekend or longer.

  • Kaiteriteri/Marahau

    Kaiteriteri/Marahau

    If you are specifically coming to explore the Abel Tasman National Park, Kaiteriteri or Marahau are perhaps the best places to base yourself. From either of these small towns, you can access the park by water taxi or cruise, taking you to the hear

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    If you are specifically coming to explore the Abel Tasman National Park, Kaiteriteri or Marahau are perhaps the best places to base yourself. From either of these small towns, you can access the park by water taxi or cruise, taking you to the heart of the park from where you can access stunning walking tracks and remote, golden sandy beaches. If you are in a car, a short (but steep and windy) drive over Takaka Hill will take you around the park to the stunning area of Golden Bay – home of some of New Zealand’s most glorious beaches. Decisions, decisions!

Best accommodation in Nelson and Marlborough

Once you have decided which town you are going to base yourself in, it’s time to choose some accommodation. Whether you are looking for five star luxury hotels or a remote campground, you’re well catered for at the top of the South Island. With so many options to choose from, we asked our GO Explore fans for some of their top tips and this is what they came back with:

Best places to eat out at the top of the South Island

From Nelson to Blenheim there are tons of great restaurants at the top of the South Island to picking the top ten is not that easy! Thankfully we had some help from our GO Explore fans who told us some of their top tips – let us know if you have any better!

Best beaches at the top of the South Island

New Zealand is blessed with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and the top of the South Island is where you will find some of the most spectacular. From golden sandy beaches to remote, unspoilt spits, Nelson and the Marlborough region really are spoilt for choice. Here are some of our favourites:

Best activities at the top of the South Island

The top of the South Island is absolutely packed with things to do. Heading to the beach is high on the list for a lot of people and visiting any of our top beach tips is a great way to spend the day, however if you are looking for something a bit more adventurous, here are some of the best suggestions from our GO Explore fans:

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