Wellington – Nelson – Wellington

Driving New Zealand – Wellington to Nelson to Wellington – a Mini-South-Island Adventure

This mini-adventure will give you a taste of the south for tourists on a strict budget or timeframe.

View Wellington – Nelson – Wellington in a larger map
Wellington, (The Windy City), is the capital of New Zealand, and absolutely packed with vibrancy. A city renowned for art and theatre, you could do worse than exploring some of the local galleries, catching a matinee at one of the tiny theatres, or strolling through the halls of Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum. Before you know it, it will be time to board your ferry to Picton.

Day 1:

Wellington – Picton - Nelson

98 km (61 miles)

Cook Strait

Enjoy a ferry trip across the Cook Strait, where you’ll encounter the Tory Channel, Cook’s Lookout and the Red Rocks seal colony. Drive your vehicle off the ferry and get ready to explore Picton.


A world-away from cosmopolitan Wellington, Picton is quaint and charming, and a lovely place to enjoy the vineyards, hiking and beautiful sheltered inlets of the Marlborough Sounds.


The drive to Nelson will take you through many interesting places, including the town of Havelock (the Green Shell Mussel Capital of the World) and the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve.

Day 2: Nelson to Blenheim

In Nelson you’ll find a true view into New Zealand life, with beach, bush and art cultures co-existing happily together. Nelson is the home of the Montana New Zealand Wearable Art Awards.


From Nelson, take State Highway 6 toward the Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand’s second-largest National park. From the vibrant, alpine city of St. Arnaud, you can explore the hiking trails, kayaking, river rafting and mountain-biking around the mountains.


Follow the Wairau River to Blenheim, stopping beside the river for a picnic and a spot of fishing.

Blenheim is at the heart of the South Island’s wine country – and you’ll find the local vintage on every menu. Blenheim is a food lover’s Mecca, with a bustling café and restaurant scene and many beautiful B&Bs and homestays to enjoy. Take a tour of some of the 20 wineries within driving distance (although if you’re going to do tastings, make sure you have a sober driver), or take a more adventurous route and walk the Queen Charlotte track.

Day 3:

Blenheim – Picton - Wellington

28 km (18 miles)

After enjoying all that Blenheim has to offer you’ll start to make your way back to Picton. This drive back will take you across the Wairau Plains past the wineries and vineyards that Blenheim is famous for.

You’ll catch your ferry back to Wellington from Picton enjoying one of most scenic ferry trips in the world passing through the Marlborough Sounds and across Cook Strait.

What are you waiting for? Visit Nelson and Blenheim today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: