Waimea Basin


The plains and low hills around Nelson and Motueka are known as the Waimea Basin. Tramping, hunting, watersports and walks through historically and ecologically significant areas await visitors.


Ecologically, the Waimea Basin is very important. From its estuaries abundant in fish and birdlife to its natural boulder bank and regenerating forests, the basin has something for everyone.


Maori valued Waimea Basin highly, and many archaeological sites are present in the area. Waimea Inlet, the largest estuary in the South Island, and Motueka River Delta were particularly rich in food sources.

Other areas are interesting in terms of their European history. Cable Bay was the site of the first international telegraph cable. South of Nelson, Belgrove Windmill, used to pump water for engines on the Nelson Railway. In the heart of Nelson City is Albion Square an historic reserve where some interesting historic buildings remain.


Near Nelson and Motueka.

Getting there

Nelson is about 113 km from Picton, and Motueka another 51 km on.


Historic sites Historic sites

Albion Square walk

Walk around this area in the heart of Nelson City to see historic buildings and other interesting features.

Places to stay

Rocks Hut is near the top of Dun Mountain Walkway.

Private accommodation is widely available in the Waimea Basin.

Plan and prepare

  • Be wary of sudden weather changes.
  • If boating in Waimea Inlet, time your trip with the tides.
  • Light fires only in designated areas.

Related link

Waimea Basin brochure (PDF, 294K)

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Find out more


Follow the Outdoor Safety Code:
1. Plan your trip
2. Tell someone
3. Be aware of the weather
4. Know your limits
5. Take sufficient supplies

Alerts for Nelson/Tasman places


Nelson Visitor Centre
Phone:      +64 3 546 9339
Address:   Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
79 Trafalgar Street
Nelson 7010
Email:   nelsonvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
Motueka Office
Phone:      +64 3 528 1810
Email:   motueka@doc.govt.nz
Full office details