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Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

Top of the South Island

Nelson, Marlborough & Abel Tasman

Things to do in the Top of the South


Vast flooded valleys characterise the South Island’s northern tip – the imposing front to rolling vineyards, national-park beaches and historic towns. Expect adventure aplenty, coupled with amazing seafood and, in Marlborough, some of Australasia's finest wines. 

Go wine tasting in Marlborough

Most introductions to the South Island are made at the Marlborough Sounds. And what a welcome it is, with giant carpeted crags and passing dolphins rising together to salute your ferry crossing. Be sure to linger longer for island wildlife, Captain Cook’s hidden cove and an abundance of hiking and kayaking opportunities in among its labyrinth of peak-backed bays. Turning inland, you’ll soon reach Blenheim whose position on the fertile Wairau Plains has given rise to a spread of award-winning vineyards, particularly noted for their sauvignon blanc.

Marlborough vineyards

Explore historic Nelson

Head west from the Marlborough region and you’ll arrive into Nelson. As one of New Zealand’s oldest settlements, you’ll find its historical credentials in the Art Deco Christ Church Cathedral, botanical gardens and the superb Founders Heritage Park, a pioneering replica village. Set idyllically between the Arthur and Richmond ranges, Nelson is also the picturesque gateway to Abel Tasman. 

Nelson, New Zealand

Go kayaking and hiking in Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park quickly dispels any notion that New Zealand is all mountains and glaciers. Bookended by Golden and Tasman Bays, long burnished beaches dip into crystal-clear waters while dense native bush covers dramatic limestone jags. And the country’s smallest national park certainly packs a lot in, with kayaking, cruises and the most popular of New Zealand’s Great Walks – the Coast Track – all vying for your attention.

Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand


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Top itineraries in Top of the South Island

Queenstown, New Zealand

Highlights of New Zealand

19-day tailor-made self-drive from £3,790 pp incl. flights

With boutique hotel stays and car hire included throughout, this curated road trip perfectly showcases the unique cultures and natural wonders of New Zealand's North and South islands.

TranzAlpine Train

New Zealand by Rail

15-day tailor-made rail holiday from £4,150 pp incl. flights

Making the most of spectacular rail routes linking sweeping coastlines, vibrant cities and epic national parks, this itinerary showcases just why New Zealand is tailor-made for a holiday by train.

Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Wilderness Highlights of New Zealand

23-day tailor-made self-drive from £8,490 pp incl. flights

Discover the spectacular landscapes of New Zealand's north and south islands on this fly-drive holiday, which includes a journey across the Southern Alps aboard the iconic TranzAlpine Express.

Maui Ultima Elite

New Zealand by Motorhome

20-day motorhome self-drive from £4,685 pp incl. flights

With its spectacular driving routes linking gorgeous coastlines and vast national parks, and plenty of gorgeous locations to pull up and park, find out why New Zealand is tailor-made for a motorhome holiday.

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Top places to stay in Top of the South Island

Stonefly Lodge, New Zealand

Stonefly Lodge, Nelson, New Zealand

Small & intimate lodge

Set within 150 acres of pristine private forest in the heart of the Moteuka Valley, just 50 minutes from the town of Nelson, Stonefly Lodge offers luxury accommodation for guests looking to relax and enjoy fly-fishing in one of New Zealand's most beautiful regions. The lodge is situated between thr…

The Resurgence bush chalet, New Zealand

The Resurgence, Nelson and Abel Tasman

Traditional eco-accommodation

As one of the world’s 25 best eco-lodges according to the National Geographic Traveler, national park views, bush chalet accommodation and locavore dining make this a truly enticing option.

Raetihi Lodge exterior, New Zealand

Raetihi Lodge, Marlborough Sounds

Traditional lodge

Flung off into the waterways and cragged islands of Marlborough, this is a chance to get in touch with nature.

Marlborough Lodge grounds, New Zealand

Marlborough Lodge, Blenheim

Traditional lodge

This is luxury that pleases the Victorian eye with century old heritage and delights the modern tastebuds with fine gastronomy and on-site vineyards.

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When to go to Top of the South Island

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Meet our Top of the South Island experts

Speak to a tailor-made specialist on 020 7590 0614

Meet the team

Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0614 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

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Expert advice & support

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Let our travel specialists curate the perfect holiday:

  • Inspirational ideas based on experience
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Every step of the way

Every step of the way

Our services are with you from start to finish:

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