Nelson Tasman. It sounds like the name of someone lined up to fight David Tua, but actually it's what they call the district at the top left of the South Island (or 'north west', if you've got a background in geography).
The Nelson tourism people probably won't appreciate us referring to their townspeople as a bunch of hippies, but look: their website lists two of the area's main attractions as 'art' and 'wellness'. It's a very good site, we'll give them that - it lists literally hundreds of things to see and do while you're there, in an easy to follow format. Blenheim over the hill, take note: if you want to get visitors excited about your town, don't fill your tourism website with Sudoku puzzles.
Back to Nelson, and let's start with the scenery: Abel Tasman is New Zealand's only coastal national park, with beautiful golden-sand beaches you can only get to by walking or paddling. Kahurangi National Park features several locations from Lord of the Rings (although to be fair, by the time Peter Jackson has finished it'll be quicker to list the places that haven't been in his movies). Kahurangi's also where you'll find the amazing Heaphy Track - recently opened to mountain biking for a three year winter trial, with a special instruction to please not run over the snails. Don't you love living in New Zealand sometimes?
Nelson is one of the world's top ten white water rafting destinations, or if that's a bit full on, choose a quieter spot of the river to try fly fishing. It's not just for experts - the Anatoki Salmon Farm will set you up with a rod for free, and you only pay for what you catch. Yes, if you go home empty handed, it won't cost you a thing. Apart from your personal dignity. But then, how much of that is left these days anyway?
Sparkling lakes, golden beaches, snow capped mountains, deep dark caves … we could go on, but we're mindful that some people don't really give a toss about nature. That's okay, we get it. Maybe we can trick you into some nature loving. Here, let's pop into one of Nelson's 20 craft breweries for a delicious pint of beer … HA! It was made using hops grown locally thanks to the sunny weather, AKA NATURE. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
For cheap flights to Nelson use the farefinder below, or visit grabaseat.co.nz the home of cheap airfares to Nelson.