Te Pokohiwi/Boulder Bank

Image: 3moreporkphotography | ©


This 8 km walk follows an internationally renowned natural spit of boulders.

Track overview

Walking and tramping

2-3 hr one way Expert: Route

Dog access

Dogs on a leash only

About this track


A walk along the Nelson Te Pokohiwi/Boulder Bank is an opportunity not to be missed. The 8 km walk, from Boulder Bank Drive to 'The Cut', takes 2-3 hours one way. The Boulder Bank is rough, dry and very exposed, so be prepared for all kinds of weather and wear strong shoes.

Getting there

Access to the Te Pokohiwi/Boulder Bank is from Boulder Bank Drive (off Atawhai Drive (SH6)) or by boat from Nelson. A ferry service is available from Nelson.

Nature and conservation

The internationally-renowned Nelson Te Pokohiwi/Boulder Bank is a natural spit of boulders, formed of the debris of land slips from the Mackay Bluffs, swept southwards by sea currents over 10,000 years. The bank is 13 km long, the last 8 km forming a spit which separates Tasman Bay/Te Tai-o-Aorere from Nelson Haven. It's width varies from 55 m at high tide to 240 m at low tide.

History and culture

Māori camped on the bank and fished there. They used boulders from the bank - some up to 50 kg - to hammer the rough forms of stone tools from quarries in the nearby hills.

The shelter offered by Te Pokohiwi/Boulder Bank was a major factor in choosing the site of Nelson. In 1848 a beacon was erected near the end of the bank and, in 1862, the cast iron lighthouse building that remains today. In 1906 a cut was made in the bank to allow easier passage to Nelson Harbour for shipping. 'The Cut' now separates Haulashore Island from the bank.

Know before you go

  • Be wary of sudden weather changes.
  • If boating in Nelson Haven, check tides and sea conditions before departing.
  • No fires.
  • No camping.


Whakatū / Nelson Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 546 9339
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   nelsonvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
79 Trafalgar Street
Nelson 7010
Postal Address:   Private Bag 5
Nelson 7042
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