Nelson Bays is the region at the top of the South Island of New Zealand. This region is famed for sunshine, art and craft and alternative lifestyles, and has a rugged farming backbone. The region includes Tasman Bay and Golden Bay, and is bounded by the Richmond Ranges, Kahurangi National Park and Nelson Lakes National Park. The Abel Tasman National Park is on the northern coast between Motueka and Golden Bay.
- Golden Bay, over the Takaka Hill from Nelson and a world away, with beautiful golden sand beaches, native bush and solitude
- Nelson Lakes has the largest native eels in New Zealand inside its National Park and good alpine skiing centred on St Arnaud
- Nelson – the region's only city, with many galleries, cafes and restaurants fringing its cathedral, and a big safe sandfly-free beach at Tahunanui
- Collingwood – at the northern end of Golden Bay, gateway to Farewell Spit and Heaphy Track in Kahurangi National Park
- Kaiteriteri – beach town and popular holiday spot between Motueka and Abel Tasman National Park
- Mapua – small seaside town between Nelson and Motueka
- Motueka – the largest town outside Nelson and its satellites
- Murchison – some of the finest white water rafting and kayaking in the Southern Hemisphere
- St Arnaud – village that is the gateway to Nelson Lakes National Park
- Takaka – the largest town in Golden Bay
- Wakefield – village south-west of Nelson
From the east, State Highway 6 is the main route leading from Blenheim (and Picton) through Renwick, Havelock and the Rai Valley before reaching Nelson. State Highway 6 continues south through Richmond, Wakefield, Murchison and on to Westport and the West Coast. State Highway 63 starts at Renwick and leads to St Arnaud before rejoining State Highway 6 at Kawatiri Junction.
In the main, both buses and shuttle services such as Atomic Travel in and out of the region follow State Highway 6. Southern Link K Bus travel Christchurch - Murchison - St Arnaud - Wakefield - Richmond - Nelson. Nelson Lakes Shuttles specialise in providing transport for trampers, hikers, climbers, mountain bikers and skiers. They run on demand together with scheduled services to St Arnaud and between Picton, Blenheim, Murchison as well as other tramping destinations further afield.
- Nelson Airport. one of the busiest airports in the country with Air New Zealand and Air2There providing scheduled services. Flight Corporation offer scenic flights including flights to Abel Tasman National Park and to airstrips in Golden Bay and to Karamea at the end of the Heaphy Track.
- Abel Tasman Air flies from Motueka Airport and offers charter flights around the region.
- The Takaka airstrip has scheduled flights from Wellington on Capital Air as well as charter operations.
For those without transport, there is reasonable bus transport around the region.
- Between Nelson, Stoke and Richmond suburban buses are available as well as a double decker bus on Wednesdays, Fridays and School and Public holidays .
- From Nelson to St Arnaud the options are Southern Link K bus or Nelson Lakes Shuttles.
- From Nelson to Motueka, Kaiteriteri and Marahau (the eastern end of the Abel Tasman National Park) options are Abel Tasman Travel or K Bus to Motueka with Marahau on demand.
- From Nelson to Motueka, Takaka, Collingwood and the eastern end of the Heaphy Track in Kahurangi National Park options are Abel Tasman Travel, K Bus to Takaka with destinations further north on demand or Golden Bay Coachlines to Takaka.
- Trek Express, ☎ +64 3 540-2042, toll-free: 0800 128 735, fax: +64 3 540-2042, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Specialising in transport to hiking tracks.
- Nelson Lakes Shuttles, ☎ +64 3 547-6896, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Tasman Helicopters, ☎ +64 3 528-8075, fax: +64 3 528 8078, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Flight Corporation Ltd, ☎ +64 3 547-8175, toll-free: 0800 359 464.
- Abel Tasman Air, ☎ +64 3 528-8290, toll-free: 0800 304 560.
Sunburn and sun stroke might be the greatest dangers in this region!
For those heading south to Christchurch, there are two options which take roughly the same length of time. State Highway 6 branches just after Murchison lending to Springs Junction. Turning east leads soon to the hot springs complex of Maruia Springs before steadily climbing up the Lewis Pass on the Main Divide of the Southern Alps. Beyond too long the turn-off to the spa town of Hanmer Springs is reached, 1.5 hours from Christchurch. The alternative it to travel to Blenheim and then south on State Highway 1 through the whale watching town of Kaikoura. Both routes take approximately 6 hours.