Heading into April, the summer months are little but a distant memory, and for many of us the onset of seasonal affective disorder (yes, it’s a thing!) has taken a toll on our relationship with our other halves. But nothing will put a spring back into your step quite like an indulgent adventure with your loved one, and there’s nowhere better poised for a romantic weekend getaway than the extraordinary Nelson Tasman region. Reignite your spark and reconnect with one another under the stars, wine and dine on delicious local cuisine, and most importantly, relax amongst nature away from the hustle and bustle of Auckland City. (Sorry Auckland – we love you, but it’s time to escape for a bit…)
Find travel stressful? It doesn’t need to be, especially when you’re jetting off to this pristine haven. With over 400 direct flights a week to Nelson Tasman (which is only 75 minutes away by air), some would say a relaxing flight sounds a lot more appealing and a lot less stressful than sitting in peak hour traffic for hours on end. Plus, with all the handy insider tips covered off in this article, you won’t even need to look far to plan your romantic weekend away!
Where to stay?
From the central city, through to the depths of the Abel Tasman National Park, and the tranquil seaside of Golden Bay, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to somewhere luxurious to rest your head at night.
In the heart of the city
City dwellers will revel in the beauty of the central hotels, the perfect place to retreat with your loved one after wining and dining the night away. Enjoy dinner alfresco along the Maitai River or head to Nelson’s ‘hospitality hub’ – the top of Trafalgar dining precinct, where you can choose from a variety of cuisines and fine dining experiences. Our top two places to stay are Trailways Hotel and the Rutherford Hotel, both located just a few steps from the CBD and offering all the modern comforts you need for a relaxing and indulgent stay in the region.
Slightly further afield in Stoke you’ll find the Grand Mercure Monaco Resort. Quaint cottages and exquisite apartments sit atop a luxurious village green, whilst spa baths and seaside dining provide promise of a weekend as unforgettable as the time your other half forgot Valentines Day.
On the golden sands
It wouldn’t be a visit to Nelson Tasman without stepping foot on the famed golden sands of the Abel Tasman National Park, and it wouldn’t be a romantic weekend away without an overnight stay amongst the natural beauty of New Zealand’s smallest, but most popular national park.
Kaiteriteri is known as ‘the gateway to paradise’, but we could argue that it is in fact paradise itself. If getting lost together in a world of adventure sounds like your cup of tea, then an overnight stay in Kaiteriteri is exactly what you need. After exploring the Abel Tasman by kayak, cruise, helicopter or foot, you can relax as you watch the sun setting from your beachfront balcony, bidding farewell to the day that has just passed.
Alternatively, you may choose to spend the night within the national park. Normally, a suggestion such as this would conjure up images of backcountry huts and campsites, but the shores of Abel Tasman are blessed with a number of extraordinary beachfront lodges, perfect for the couple looking to relax and indulge.
- Wilsons Abel Tasman welcomes you with much more than a bed for a night at the only lodge-style accommodation right on the beach within the boundaries of the National Park. Meadowbank Homestead at Awaroa and Torrent Bay Lodge are ideally spaced for a journey along the Abel Tasman Great Walk. Everything is taken care of, so with no heavy packs to carry, private ensuites and delicious meals prepared by on-site chefs, you can simply relax and enjoy nature, with walking, kayaking and boat cruise options galore.
- If you’re looking for a secluded spot, then Awaroa Lodge is exactly that. A TV and cellphone free environment, it’s the perfect place to spend some quality time with your loved one and escape from the demands of every-day life. Choose to spend your time here how you wish, dining at the lodge’s incredible restaurant, taking a stroll along the tranquil beach, or curling up together by the roaring fire listening to the sound of waves as they lap gently on the shore.
What to do?
Get out on the water
Hop on board a scenic cruise and explore the secluded hideaways and stunning golden beaches that the Abel Tasman is renowned for, taking in the views of the sweeping coastline and pleasantly calm seas that surround you. Continue your adventure into the evening with an overnight stay on a catamaran, popping open a bottle of local vintage and letting the sound of the ocean lull you to sleep. Awake to the mesmerising sunrise and head out for a spot of kayaking around Adele Island, where you’ll be treated to a chorus of birdsong. If the tide is low enough, you can walk the sandspit, the site of many weddings and proposals. (You never know, you may get lucky!)
Ride horseback along the beach
Nothing screams romance quite like a picnic on a secluded beach! But why not turn it up a notch and take an intimate horse trek along the wild and wonderful Wharariki Beach in Golden Bay. Ride through the caves and watch as the adorable seal pups play in the rock pools, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, canter down the beach and feel the refreshing sea breeze on your face. An unforgettable trek that guarantees lush views of the magnificent sand dunes and the luscious rolling hills.
Be pampered at a day spa
If kayaking or horse riding aren’t really your thing, never fear as Kimi Ora Eco Resort is the perfect spot to unwind. Their array of massage and spa treatments will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed in no time. With your wellness at the forefront of what they do, Kimi Ora Eco resort is also home to fitness facilities, heated swimming pools, a sauna, spa, guest library, and a delicious vegetarian restaurant.
Discover the heART of Nelson Tasman
Home to one of the largest numbers of working artists and galleries in the country, the creative essence of the Nelson Tasman region is embedded deeply in its culture. Spend the morning exploring the iconic World of WearableArt and Classic Car Museum, where incredible works of wearable art from the annual WOW Awards Show in Wellington are displayed in all their glory. The afternoon calls for a visit to the Jens Hansen studio, world-renowned for creating the “One Ring” in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, but more importantly, the perfect destination for contemporary artisan jewellery (hint, hint).
Take your love to new heights
Experience the breath-taking golden coastline from the air as you explore the Abel Tasman National Park from new heights. Hold on tight as you soar through the lush native forest, glide above sandy beaches and hover over the clear turquoise waters in a unique helicopter tour across the top of New Zealand’s South Island. If you think that your other half is a sight for sore eyes, wait until you check out these views!
Where to wine and dine?
We all know that food is the way to many people’s hearts! (You’ve seen Lady and The Tramp, right?) The Nelson Tasman region is home to some of the country’s finest restaurants, best watering holes and lively artisan markets for you to sink your teeth into, and you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding where to fill your tummies.
Whether you choose to indulge in some fine dining along the banks of the Maitai River at The Tides Restaurant & Bar, in some sharing platters of fresh regional produce and seafood at The Monaco Kitchen, or in an authentic teppanyaki experience at Miyazu Restaurant, we guarantee you’ll want to come back year after year for more.
But spectacular cuisine isn’t only limited to the urban areas, because even in the depths of the Abel Tasman National Park, you’ll find a range of extraordinary dining destinations. From waterfront restaurants in Kaiteriteri and Marahau to the Harakeke Restaurant in Awaroa, the concept of dining with a view has never rung more true.
What’s more, Nelson Tasman is known as a hub for passionate artisans, and you won’t want to leave without treating your tastebuds to the vast selection of flavoursome wines, craft beers and ciders that have been lovingly prepared by the region’s small local businesses. Visit some of the boutique and family-owned wineries that line the Moutere Hills and Waimea Plains, savouring their products at cellar doors and indulging in some delicious local platters at the vineyard cafes. If you’re around on the weekend, it’s well worth a visit to the local markets in Nelson City and Motueka, where you can sample even more extraordinary artisan products.
So, if it is romance you’re after, there’s no better place to get those endorphins rushing and reignite the spark than the Nelson Tasman region. Whether you’re relaxing at a beachfront lodge, kayaking along the sweeping Abel Tasman coastline, or soaring high over the Top of the South, one thing is guaranteed – spending quality time reconnecting with your other half. With that in mind, scrap the movie night, because let’s face it, in the time it would take for you to drive to the theatre, you could be curling up under the stars letting Nelson Tasman work its magic.