To the west of the Marlborough Sounds is Abel Tasman National Park, another area of great natural beauty on the warm and sunny northern tip of the South Island.
Sailing, walking and sea kayaking among the park's picturesque bays are some of the most popular activities for visitors.
Others choose to head for the mountains and rivers inland from Nelson, the region's main hub. World-class white-water rafting, fly-fishing and mountain biking can be experienced inland.
However, the Nelson region is also a great place to relax as well - wineries, art galleries, wellness retreats and fine dining restaurants are other attractions.
The lively coastal town of Nelson is one of the oldest settlements in New Zealand and marks the centre of the country geographically.
It was named after Horatio Nelson and references to the admiral can be seen in street names and public areas in the city, such as Trafalgar Street and Trafalgar Park.
Christ Church Cathedral stands on a small hill that affords views across Nelson towards Tasman Bay and the mountains that surround the city on three sides.
There are also some interesting art galleries and museums, as well as cafes and restaurants serving quality regional food. Succulent seafood, organic vegetables and drinks from local microbreweries and wineries have earned Nelson a reputation as a destination for foodies.
Abel Tasman National Park
Beautiful beaches, clear seas and some of the country's best walking tracks are the draws of the small Abel Tasman National Park, 60 kilometres from Nelson.
The Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of the least demanding of New Zealand's great walks and is an excellent option for those who might not automatically think of themselves as trampers. It takes between two and five days, meandering through picturesque bush, over sandy beaches and up to scenic lookout points.
Cruises are another way to explore the park, combining time at sea with walking tours and other shore excursions. Sea kayaking is also popular and provides the means to reach secret coves and overnight campsites. Seals and dolphins are sometimes seen while you paddle, swim and snorkel.