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Nelson is known for its stunning natural scenery so be sure to pack your outdoor gear including hiking boots, a rain jacket and a sturdy backpack if you’re planning to get out exploring on foot. Throw in some swimmers to take a dip in the freshwater springs, as well as your appetite to make the most of New Zealand’s thriving foodie culture. The rest of your packing list will depend on the time of year you plan to travel.

Abel Tasman National Park and Nelson Lakes National Park are popular pit-stops for visitors, offering endless opportunities for exploring beautiful beaches, hiking trails and fishing/boating adventures. Tahunanui Beach is a favourite spot for swimming and basking in the sun’s warmth, while those seeking a dose of culture can check out the World of Wearable Art and Classic Cars Museum, Nelson Provincial Museum or catch a show at the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts. Those who can’t resist meandering around markets should also carve out some time to check out the Nelson Market, which takes place every Saturday and offers a range of locally made arts, crafts and food. Of course, no trip to Golden Bay is complete without a visit to Te Waikoropupu Springs, the largest coldwater springs in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Summer (December to February) is the most popular time to visit as the weather is delightfully warm and sunny. Autumn (March to May) is slightly cooler than summer’s steamy peak, making it perfect for scenic drives, hiking and exploring, while winter (June to August) is perfect for hitting the slopes on the nearby ski fields or sinking into the delightfully hot springs. Spring (September to November) is arguably the most beautiful with blooming wildflowers and mild temperatures. It’s also an excellent time for sampling the region’s wineries.

Explore Abel Tasman National Park on a kayak, sample craft brews (Nelson is regarded as the craft-brewing capital of New Zealand), wander around the weekend craft markets, take on Tasman’s Great Taste Trail and sample the local cuisine, or raise your heart rate with a thrilling downhill mountain-bike ride. Take a dip in the largest cold-water springs in the Southern Hemisphere at Te Waikoropupu Springs, ogle classic cars at the museum or experience the thrill of white-water rafting – the list is endless!

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