This is the first study to use a multiple biomarker approach on the green-lipped mussel, Perna canaliculus to test its feasibility as a bioindicator of coastal metal contamination in New Zealand (NZ). Mussels were collected from six low intertidal sites varying in terms of anthropogenic impacts, within two regions (West Coast and Nelson) of the South Island of NZ. Trace elements, including arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), nickel (Ni), and zinc (Zn), were measured in the gills, digestive gland, foot and mantle, and in the surface sediments from where mussels were collected. Metal levels in the sediment were relatively low and there was only one site (Mapua, Nelson) where a metal (Ni) exceeded the Australian and New Zealand Interim Sediment Quality Guideline values. Metal levels in the digestive gland were generally higher than those from the other tissues. A variety of biomarkers were assessed to ascertain mussel health. Clearance rate, a physiological endpoint, correlated with metal level in the tissues, and along with scope for growth, was reduced in the most contaminated site. Metallothionein-like protein content and catalase activity in the digestive gland, and catalase activity and lipid peroxidation in the gill, were also correlated to metal accumulation. Although there were few regional differences, the sampling sites were clearly distinguishable based on the metal contamination profiles and biomarker responses. P. canaliculus appears to be a useful bioindicator species for coastal habitats subject to metal contamination. In this study tissue and whole organism responses provided insight into the biological stress responses of mussels to metal contaminants, indicating that such measurements could be a useful addition to biomonitoring programmes in NZ.