The First Zero Carbon Itinerary in New Zealand

Abel Tasman Magazine - Zero Carbon itinerary

Recently the Nelson Regional Development Agency (NRDA) launched the very first Zero Carbon Itinerary in New Zealand.

The idea of this four day trip around the Nelson Tasman District is to leave as light an environmental footprint as possible by using the most environmentally responsible activities, accommodation providers and hospitality places in the area. The 14 businesses featured in the itinerary are all zero carbon certified or carbon positive enterprises. There is no additional cost for travellers to undertake the itinerary as the participants have already offset their carbon emissions.
Arriving at Nelson Airport


Your holiday begins with an arrival into the award-winning Nelson Airport, a striking sculptural landmark using passive design principles and built with locally sourced timbers.

If you fancy a cycling adventure from day one, The Gentle Cycling Company can combine e-bikes with sage advice as you set off on Tasman’s Great Taste Trail in search of chocolate-box scenery and wonderful new flavours. Or join Wine Art and Wilderness on one of their guided tours around wineries, art galleries or the region’s best nature spots. After a day out exploring, pick up a hybrid car from New Zealand Rent-A-Car or Hertz, and head into Nelson City for the evening.

The ideal place to toast your holiday and plot your next day’s experiences is The Free House, a converted church and the first climate positive pub in the country. Here, you’ll find a wide range of delicious craft brews on tap (including the much-loved Mussel Inn beverages), and they even let you bring along your own food! Stocking up on picnic provisions for a night in a pub-church requires a pit stop at Fresh Choice Nelson, a supermarket that specialises in local produce. Look for their ‘less than 200km’ labels to help with your decision making, and don’t forget to include some goodies from Yum Granola and the Chia Sisters. At the end of the day, sleeping with a clear conscience is easy in a private room with ensuite at the centrally located YHA Nelson by Accents, right on the doorstep of the Nelson Saturday Market.

Abel Tasman Magazine - Zero Carbon itinerary - The Free House - Nelson
Enjoying craft beer at The Free House, Nelson.


In the morning, set off to Mārahau for a full day trip with Abel Tasman AquaTaxi and Mārahau Sea Kayaks, stopping off to grab a coffee from Celcius Coffee in Motueka on the way. offer boating, hiking and kayaking trips in the Abel Tasman National Park, all of which have been measured and are zero carbon certified. You could choose a Fantasy Island guided trip, taking in the pristine golden coastline to Adele Island and the happy chatter from the abundant birdlife – a direct result of an initiative by local charitable organisation The Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust. The seals lolling on nearby rocks are also worth a visit.

Celebrate a day in paradise at the relaxed waterfront beer garden at Hooked, another local favourite that has measured and offset its operational emissions.

Choices for guilt-free overnight accommodation in Mārahau are abundant. There’s the modern and stylish rooms set amongst
beautiful native grounds at Abel Tasman Lodge, with an EV station for charging your hybrid vehicle. Abel Tasman Ocean View Chalets are ideally situated on the doorstep of the national park, where you can make the most of the stunning seaside views from your private balcony. Or, if classic kiwi camping in the village is what you’re looking for, look no further than Marahau Beach Camp.

Abel Tasman Magazine - Zero Carbon itinerary - Marahau Sea Kayaks
Kayaking the pristine coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park with Marahau Sea Kayaks.


Do you feel like an exhilarating adventure or a soak-up-the-scene cruise along an unspoiled glistening golden coastline?

A daredevil’s ‘yes’ sees you join Abel Tasman Canyons as you zipline, jump, slide and abseil down pristine waterfalls of the Torrent River in the depths of the national park. If a relaxing experience is more your style, you’re all aboard Abel Tasman  Sailing Adventures for a full day on the water or choose a combo that includes seal-spotting and a bit of landlubber time exploring
inside the park.

Take advantage of the sea breeze and explore the coast while heading south
on Abel Tasman Sailing’s comfortable catamaran.


After another restful night in Mārahau, it’s just a short drive to Motueka where you can get a bird’s eye view of the region with Skydive Abel Tasman.

When you’re 20,000 feet up, nothing obstructs your views of the Abel Tasman coastline or the rugged mountains of Kahurangi National Park, an unforgettable almost-end to your trip. Touch down and head back toward Nelson Airport, stopping at a roadside stall for some fresh fruit from the home of New Zealand’s horticulture. The region is home too, to Pic’s Peanut Butter World. The memory of roasting peanuts on their factory tour will stay with you long after you’ve gone, jogged easily every time you open a jar of Pic’s Peanut Butter to slather on your toast.

Whether you’re visiting for a day, four or more, there’s plenty of choice to shape a light footprint holiday in Nelson Tasman. You don’t have to deny yourself anything – travelling responsibly doesn’t mean missing out on delectable cuisine, extraordinary experiences, spectacular scenery and comfortable accommodation.

As is often the case, life isn’t about making big changes, but a few small steps can go a long way. For more details, or to book your trip, please visit

The Mārahau waterfront and sandspit in the evening.
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