The northern coast of New Zealand’s south island is strikingly different than other parts of the island. The warm, golden beaches and bright-blue waters contrast sharply with the rockier and colder coasts to the south. The vegetation also takes on more of a tropical feel. Close by are lively towns like Motueka and Takaka that are bustling with tourists and locals.
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park is one of the most beautiful places in all of New Zealand. The park is named after Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer, who is the first known European to reach Tasmania and New Zealand during trips in 1642 and 1644. Tasman was instrumental in mapping large portions of this part of the Pacific. There is plenty for outdoor enthusiasts to love in the park with enough kayaking and hiking to keep you busy for a long time. Most notable is the Abel Tasman Track (54.4 km), one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks. To appreciate all that the park has to offer, you will need to get out on the water in a boat or kayak. That is the best way to see some of the fur seal colonies that live in the area.
Golden Bay is a large bay located northwest of Abel Tasman National Park. The bay is essentially a continuation of the park, but it is a lot less crowded. There are opportunities all along the bay to enjoy hiking trails, kayaking, and to observe birds and other wildlife. Nearby is Takaka, an interesting hippie town with some great restaurants and cafes.