Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
Nelson Lakes National Park
Day 1: Start your journey in Nelson
Your journey begins in New Zealand’s sunniest region - a gourmet feast of orchards, vineyards and sun-kissed hop fields, and delectable local brews. Nelson is a haven for food and wine lovers, and also has a thriving arts scene. With more than 350 working artists and craftspeople working locally in traditional, contemporary and Māori arts, you'll have no problem finding unique souvenirs to take home with you.
Add on: Middle‑earth™ and the Pelorus River
If you have a day to spare, why not explore the scenic reserves and forest glades between Blenheim and Nelson. Find tracks that lead to waterfalls and rock pools, or walk up along a ridge to a 417-meter peak.
This area is also home to some Middle‑earth™ magic. Peter Jackson chose Pelorus Bridge as a filming location for scenes from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Here, the dwarves were filmed floating in barrels down the river - an experience that Stephen Hunter, who played dwarf Bombur, called 'his favorite day on set'.
Day 2: Wildlife encounters in Abel Tasman National Park
For the ultimate wilderness and wildlife fix, visit Abel Tasman National Park. Here inviting golden sand beaches fill the spaces between tide line and native forest. Crystal clear streams tumble down mossy valleys to join the ocean, and friendly marine mammals are a permanent part of the scenery.
Day 3: Get active in Nelson Lakes National Park
From here, travel south to St Arnaud, a picturesque town that sits on the edge of Lake Rotoiti. St Arnaud is the perfect place from which to explore the honeydew forests and mountains of Nelson Lakes National Park. There's a number of stunning day hikes to choose from.
Day 4: Head to Punakaiki and Hokitika
No journey to the West Coast is complete without a visit to Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. These ancient limestone stacks were formed over 30 million years ago and are the most visited natural attraction in the region. Visit at high-tide to witness the blowholes in action.
From here make your way to Hokitika, a town famous for its pounamu (greenstone) jewelry and artworks. Shop for pounamu locally or try your hand at carving a piece for yourself.