Tāhuna Beach Holiday Park has hosted great holidays for more than nine decades. In 2016 we celebrated our 90th anniversary, commemorating the beginning of the Tāhuna Sands Association’s development of the site back in 1926.
Upon the arrival of European settlers in Nelson, Tāhunanui Beach was nonexistent. The beach that we know, and love now was once a mudflat near the edge of the main channel that drained into the Waimea Inlet. Remarkably, it took a mere century for Tāhunanui Beach to take shape with sands from Tasman Bay. Māori first settled around the Waimea Inlet over 600 years ago. Successive tribes established camps and settlements along the coast and islands, particularly in areas where channels gave water access, even at low tide. One of the oldest of the camps was located near the junction of Bisley Avenue and Rocks Road, at the edge of the Waimea Inlet. Nestled within sand dunes, this camp enabled inhabitants to harvest kaimoana from both the inlet’s waters and the expansive Tāsman Bay / Te Tai-o-Aorere. Archaeological findings were found from this site, including fish hooks (some crafted from moa bone), argillite stone drill points (sourced from the Nelson Mineral Belt and to make fish hooks), and an abundance of argillite flakes left behind by adze artisans. Bones from the midden showed that snapper, kahawai, and barracouta were the most frequently caught fish species, while other foods also included moa, weka, NZ pigeon kererū, spotted shag, Polynesian dog, and Southern fur seal. Dates from charcoal show that people were living here around 1400 AD.
On the Sands, Nelson. The Nelson Provincial Museum, Copy Collection: C1346
Nelson City Council first acquired the land that Tāhuna Beach Holiday Park & Motel occupies in 1910 for the sum of three hundred and five pounds, 12 shillings and six pence.
The Tāhuna Sands Association took over responsibility for the development of the area in 1926 and in only the first two years, access to the beach was improved and the first facilities were provided such as changing sheds, a playground and a kiosk. This was the start of the historic camping ground we operate today.
A Gala Day at Tahuna, Nelson, circa 1918. Nelson Provincial Museum, F N Jones Collection: 309923
Almost 80 years ago, over the summer of 1938-39, 700 holidaymakers camped on site – the beginning of a summer holiday tradition that has continued to this day for many generations of families. Holidaymakers and travelers enjoy Tāhuna Beach Holiday Park so much, they keep coming back – one of our guests has stayed every year for the past 66 years.
Tahunanui Motor Camp. Nelson Provincial Museum, Ellis Dudgeon Collection: 211639
Meanwhile, Nelson city has developed, around the Holiday Park, into one of New Zealand’s most loved holiday destinations – and we are only a short distance away from the gateway to three incredible natural playgrounds including the world-renowned Abel Tasman National Park.
Tahuna Sands, circa 1940. Nelson Provincial Museum, Kingsford Collection: 160970