Hiking the Cable Bay Walkway, Nelson

One of the best coastal hikes near Nelson is conveniently located 15 minutes from the city. The Cable Bay Walkway takes you over a couple of big hills to some viewpoints looking back towards Nelson and over Cable Bay / Peppin Island. Keep reading to find all the information you’ll need on the Cable Bay Walkway.

The Cable Bay Walkway

You can start the Cable Bay Walkway at either end of the track (Glenduan or Cable Bay). We started at the Glenduan end having earlier left a car at the other end. Luckily, I had recently met a couple of local hikers, Michelle and Deb, otherwise there would have been about two hours of annoying backtracking to be done. If you don’t have that option you should start at the Cable Bay end (more on that later though). The first part of the track is a fairly uneventful climb up a 4WD track surrounded by farmland. You might see some sheep, but that’s about as exciting as it gets.

Views from Cable Bay Walkway, New Zealand

After 30-40 minutes (depending on your speed) you’ll finally get some views back towards Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park. From there you’ll continue up some more hill sections, through some forest and eventually arrive at the Cable Bay side of the track. This is when the views really start to impress.

Cable Bay Walkway, Nelson, New ZealandHiking in Nelson, New Zealand

Views of Cable Bay and Peppin Island

You’ll have to climb another hill before getting the really good views, but your effort will be well rewarded. Cable Bay is a unique place, with two seemingly different bodies of water separated by a beach / causeway leading to Peppin Island. You can’t visit the island, which is privately owned, unless you have a spare $16 million and are considering buying it. I guess you could fake those riches and get a tour if you really wanted to visit (it also occasionally opens up to visitors). If you don’t have the option of having a car at either end, I’d recommend driving to Cable Bay and walking up the hill. It’s pretty steep but the view from above the bay is by far the best you’ll see on this track (and one of my favourite views in the Nelson Tasman region).

Views from the Cable Bay Walkway, Nelson, New ZealandCable Bay from above, Nelson, New Zealand

Cable Bay

The beach is a bit rough and looks better from above, so we didn’t hang around long (and it was cold). If you want to spend longer in the area you could check out the Cable Bay Adventure Park (mountain biking etc) or stop at the Cable Bay Cafe (which is closed during winter).

Cable Bay Beach, Nelson, New Zealand

Getting There

Glenduan (AKA The Glen) is 12 km from downtown Nelson. If you’re starting at that end park down by the beach and walk up to the start of the track (there aren’t many places to park up there and apparently the locals are getting annoyed with tourists parking there). Cable Bay is 20 km from downtown Nelson — I was told the section of road near the turnoff to Cable Bay is treacherous so be careful pulling in and out.

Are you planning a trip to the top of New Zealand’s South Island? Check out our Travel Guide and Two-Week Itinerary!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.