Marlborough and Nelson belong to the sunniest regions in New Zealand. Some of the country’s best wines are grown here and the local orchards can generally be counted on to produce bumper harvests of such popular exports as kiwifruit, apples and pears. Furthermore, nearly all New Zealand’s tobacco and hops are grown on the small coastal plain around Motueka, on the western side of Tasman Bay.
But not all the land has been given over to agriculture: both trampers and nature-lovers will find Abel Tasman National Park something akin to paradise on earth. Here it is possible to combine swimming with walking on the park’s splendid coastal track. Not so well known among tourists, but places of great beauty neverthe-less, are Kahurangi National Park (formerly North-West Nelson State Forest Park) and Nelson Lakes National Park further south. Over on the east coast at Kaikoura, visitors have the chance of getting close-up views of gigantic sperm whales. A leisurely cruise through the labyrinth of islands, bays and inlets that make up the Marlborough Sounds is also a fascinating experience