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Where is the best location to stay in Nelson, NZ?

  • 7 minutes


Get yourself to the right place, at the right time for a great holiday

Nelson, NZ offers visitors a diverse variety of things to do and see. Where to stay, the location, your choice depends on what’s on your holiday bucket list. Let’s get that sorted and pick your accommodation accordingly.

Wainui Inlet Golden Bay, Nelson, New Zealand
Wainui Inlet, Golden Bay, Nelson


  • Nelson has world class beaches, golden fine sand and sharp blue shallow water. Tasman Bay and Golden Bay are visitor hot spots with the hidden charm of Cable Bay a local secret.


The best time to visit Nelson, NZ beaches is between December to mid-April. The peak season is the southern hemisphere school holidays, January. Visitors who are not governed by school age kids are recommended to visit mid-February to March.

Kaiteriteri beaches, impossible gold sand, turquois water, Nelson, NZ
Kaiteriteri beaches, Nelson
Tahunanui beach in Nelson New Zealand
Tahuna beach, Nelson


Nelson has several excellent beaches nearby. Check out Nelson top 5 beaches and beyond in Abel Tasman – Best Bits and get inspired with a dash of cafe culture, great kids playgrounds and plenty of grassy foreshore for impromptu games.

  • Finding a beach in Nelson is ridiculously easy. You can hardly move from the regional airport and one of New Zealand’s top family beaches, Tahunanui is within your sights. The province is coast to coast fringed with long stretches of gold perfection, shallow safe waters for children and plenty of campgrounds adjacent to the perfect summer holiday spot.


Nelson city is located in the Tasman Bay with an enviable deep water port, shallow estuaries and kilometres of white / gold sandy beaches.


No cooking required. 14 cafes, counter food & quick bites to eat in Nelson – Best Bits.


Nelson is well known as the sunshine capital of New Zealand with glittering gold beaches and the Abel Tasman National Park. Nelson province is one of NZ’s breadbaskets with locally grown produce, seafood and a culture of creative arts.

Caucasian man taking a selfie with smartphone in Split Apple Rock, Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
Abel Tasman National Park

Tahunanui district is located in Tasman Bay, Nelson

Tahunanui is both a suburb of Nelson city and a summer beach holiday destination. The airport is located in Tahunanui. Forward bookings in the peak summer season (January – February) is recommended.

@Tāhuna Beach Holiday Park and Motel
@Tāhuna Beach Holiday Park and Motel



Tāhuna Beach Holiday Park and Motel is located 4.5 kilometres from Nelson city centre and adjacent to the long welcoming sands of Tāhunanui Beach. It covers 54 acres of parkland that has been available for almost nine decades for holidaymakers to enjoy. Tāhuna Beach Holiday Park offers accommodation that suits every holidaymaker and traveller’s budget – from unpowered campsites to cosy cabins to modern, fully self-contained motel units. The Holiday Park’s location gives you direct access to the beach, playing fields and local beachside attractions.

Check out Camping in Nelson for more holiday parks in Tasman Bay.

Where to stay near Mapua, Rabbit Island & Ruby Bay

Mapua & Rabbit Island are defined by white sandy beaches, shallow estuaries to paddle in with taste Nelson wine & food cycling trails passing through. Mapua wharf is now the venue for converted apple stores and craft shops and galleries. The smokehouse cafe is a seafood treat.


Ruby Bay Vineyard & Cottage

Ruby Bay Vineyard & Cottage – a high level of personal attention with only 8 guests. The hosts enjoy providing local tips on the Nelson wine region, whilst experiencing the very best in hospitality and gourmet produce.


Appleby House & Rabbit Island Huts

Appleby House & Rabbit Island Huts – venue specialising in weddings and celebrations with 25 acres of farmland and park. Glorious huts constructed from locally sourced timbers meld into the beach landscape. A touch of luxury. Choose to go glamping with your own private bridge access. The accommodation is set on 25 acres of Waimea Plains land, beautifully located for peace and quiet. 360 degree views of mountains, the Richmond Ranges and the Waimea Estuary stretch out around you. The Great Taste Cycle Trail is 200m from the property so you can bring your bikes and explore the various wineries and craft breweries in the area. Or just enjoy the beautiful Rabbit Island beach on foot – 1.5 kms down the road.

Apple Pickers’ Cottage

Three separate self-contained cottages on the shore of the beautiful tidal Waimea Inlet. Panoramic views across the estuary to mountains, vineyards, orchards and olive groves. The cottages were built for apple pickers in the 1950s.  They have been carefully renovated to reflect their functional origins while adding touches of contemporary comfort. Rustic luxury at its best with Mapua Wharf, Motueka and Abel Tasman National Park within a stone’s throw.

@The Apple Pickers' Cottages
@The Apple Pickers' Cottages


Mapua Leisure Park

Mapua Leisure Park – basic motels, cabins and camping powered and non-powered sites situated in 21 acres of pine forest and beach dunes. Communal kitchen and laundry facilities, boat and trailer park. Recreational facilities include tennis courts, volleyball and swimming pool and for parents a summer children’s entertainment programme.


Check out Camping in Nelson for more holiday parks in Tasman Bay.

Cable Bay – Place of Nelson summer beach holidays

Rotokura/Cable Bay is a hidden gem in the Nelson Tasman region, and is a mere 20-minute drive from Nelson City. The settlement is located at the head of the bay with a natural boulder causeway connecting Pepin Island with the South Island. Cable Bay accomodation ranges from a budget holiday park nestled on the edge of the bay to hilltop views from a luxurious bed and breakfast.

Cable Bay Holiday Park

An independent classic holiday park with the beach as the star attraction. Cable Bay Holiday Park has non-powered and powered sites and basic cabins (no ensuites). There are well maintained communal facilities. Nearby Cable Bay Holiday Park is the start of the Cable Bay walkway.

@Cable Bay Holiday Park
@Cable Bay Holiday Park

Romantic escape, getting away from it all – Pepin Island Farmstay

This has got to be one of the easiest, most comfortable ‘remote’ country stays in NZ. Pepin Island is only 30 minutes drive from Nelson city. Pepin Island is connected to Cable Bay via a naturally formed bolder bank. Pepin Island farm is a working sheep station wintering over 2,000 sheep, and around 100 cattle. Be surrounded by the magnificent views of Tasman Bay, Coastal Native Bush and the spectacular landscape of a New Zealand sheep station.

Pepin farmstay has three cosy huts, complete with solar powered hot water, kitchen facilities, either catered or self-service and access to little treats to add glamour to your holiday stay.



Prefer a less challenging route to your hut stay? Then organise a ride on the farms 4WD, and get you and/or your luggage delivered in ease. For more romantic or luxury ideas check out Holiday luxury, indulge the senses in Nelson – Best Bits.

Scenic view over Tahunanui Beach and Tasman Bay, New Zealand
Scenic view over Tahunanui Beach and Tasman Bay


  • Soak in the serenity of beach, rolling farmland and native bush as you sip coffee in the local cafe
  • Adventure is part of your DNA then Skywire – the world longest flying fox is a local challenge. Take a trip in the Argo amphibious all-terrain vehicle.
  • Discover an archery park where you can learn how to shoot a longbow, as you hunt for dragons and other fantasy creatures in the archery park’s native forest
  • Kayak around the spectacular Pepin island or test your skills at the Shooting range
  • A walkway overlooks the bay and provides spectacular views of Tasman Bay. Stretch the walks on the walkway as the track continues on across farmland that runs adjacent to the marine reserve. The trail finishes in Glenduan – known as ‘The Glen’ to locals. The walkway offers wonderful coastal views of the Boulder Bank, Nelson City and Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks.

Golden Bay, Mohau is a premier beach destination

Discover quiet beaches as you drive over the intriguing Takaka marble hills. Discover Aotearoa New Zealand’s longest sandspit, the arches and dunes of Wharariki beach with its instagram famous Split Apple Rock. Find out where visitors are few and far between in the very popular Abel Tasman National Park. Heritage buffs will ensure they spend time exploring the heritage village of Collingwood. Your journey to the top of the South Island starts with a drive over Takaka Hill and its fascinating marble landscape.

Golden Bay is a gently curved bay at the top of the South Island, Nelson ending the reserve Farewell Spit. From Taupo Point the key destinations are Wainui Bay, Tata Beach, Ligar Bay & Pohara Beach. Visitor focused villages of Collingwood (nearby fascinating Farewell Spit Reserve) and Takaka (Abel Tasman gateway town) offer extensive accommodation choices from luxury glamping to budget minded holiday parks.

Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay, Nelson, South Island, New Zealand
Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay

Where to stay when visiting Golden Bay, Nelson?

@Pohara Beach Top 10 Holiday Park
@Pohara Beach Top 10 Holiday Park

Pohara Beach Holiday Park top 10 camping ground

Pohara Beach Holiday Park is a finalist in the holiday park awards and a five star option for those wishing a resort feel to their camping experience. Pohara has non-powered, powered sites, cablins, chalets, ensuite motel style options. There is an expansive kids playground, concrete boat ramp and wash down facilities. The park is the closest camping ground to the northern end of Abel Tasman National Park.

Canopy Camping Escapes

Canopy Camping Escapes – looking for something different then Rustic ReTreat, a family friendly tree house in Golden Bay could be the answer.


Golden Bay Holiday Park

What a location; halfway between Farewell Spit and the Abel Tasman National Park, making it the ideal place to explore Golden Bay. Golden Bay Holiday Park has beach apartments with direct access to the sandy

Collingwood Holiday Park

Collingwood Holiday Park – from a non-powered site for a tent to a self-contained cabin there is plenty of choice for your budget holiday. For family groups there is a self-contained holiday home as well as several cabins sleeping up to eight people.


Check out Camping in Nelson for more holiday parks in Golden Bay.

@Collingwood Holiday Park
@Collingwood Holiday Park

Is your Nelson, NZ bucket list the outdoors & Abel Tasman National Park?

Te Waikoropupu Springs (pupu Springs), near Takaka, Golden Bay, Nelson, New Zealand.
Te Waikoropupu Springs (pupu Springs), near Takaka, Golden Bay
  • Nelson has a stunning array of natural outdoors for visitors. Nelson has three national parks. Abel Tasman is a world class showstopper of a park fringed by coastal native bush dipping down to the stunning coast. Kahurangi National Park with its Heaphy Track Great Walk is stretched from Nelson to the top reaches of the South Island West Coast, Karmea.
  • Nelson’s landscape tantalises visitors with unusual landforms with areas of limestone and marble featuring deep caves and sinkholes. Te Waikoropupu (Pupu) springs, an enormous welling of crystal clear freshwater in the world. Nelson city is framed by nature’s sculpture, a boulder spit shaped by the wind and sea

For ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK visitors skip past Nelson city and base yourself around the three major entrances to Abel Tasman National Park. Marahau and Kaiteriteri in the south with road access from Motueka.  In the north is Totaranui with road access from What’s so great about Takaka – Best Bits  in Golden Bay.


Accommodation ranges from the sublime to a basic Department of Conservation hut or lodge. Independently owned visitor operators offer comfortable to luxurious accommodation.


Check out Abel Tasman National Park Great Walk & Abel Tasman National Park camping grounds.

Is your Nelson Holiday a camping trip?

Nelson is an ideal place to go camping with consistent high sunshine and warm summer temperatures, check out Nelson 25 camping grounds and holiday parks.



Is your Nelson holiday a taste trail in New Zealand’s premier hops, wine and food country?

Nelson’s climate supports NZ’s commercial hops with eleven craft breweries and over 25 boutique wineries producing aromatic wines and chardonnay. Apples and berries tempt visitors to stop and explore the offerings of farm to roadside stalls. Nelson cafes and restaurants have the ocean’s bounty at their fingertips with Nelson the largest fishing port in Australasia.


Ensure you have cash available for roadside stalls. These are often operated under an ‘honesty’ system of self-service.

STAY locations for foodie focused holidays include Moutere, Nelson city with its cafes and weekend markets and nearby Richmond offering ease of access to Taste Nelson cycling trail.

@The Moutere Inn
@The Moutere Inn

Is your Nelson holiday wish list a touch of urban gloss with a cafe or two…?

  • Nelson city is a great location for holiday makers intent on exploring the art scene, a quick foray into the local foodie stores, markets and outlets as well as adding a dash of heritage to the holiday mix.
Mountains Reflected in Lake Rotoiti, New Zealand
Mountains Reflected in Lake Rotoiti


Murchison is home to adventure tourism with the wild Buller River the location for a thrilling jet boat past historic gold mining sites. Murchison feels a world away from the golden beaches of Nelson, the vineyards and Abel Tasman National Park yet the area is part of the Nelson Tasman, New Zealand administrative district. For visitors Murchison is often underrated as backwater in the Nelson area.

Murchison is the gateway town on the Great West Coast road trip, route 6 – Best Bits. Check out attractions such as Spooners tunnel, walks past historic gold mining sites and the Old Ghost Trail.



Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


Our editors independently visit tour operators, purchase tickets, pay for accommodation, and rate products and places. We are not paid to go on a tour or visit a place. We only make money if you decide to purchase a product through our website links. We promise to never accept free products from manufacturers in return for boosting their products. Read more about our affiliate programme in the terms and conditions HERE.

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