Located at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, in the Tasman region, is the humble city of Nelson. Fondly known as ‘sunny Nelson’, its geographic location lends itself to extraordinarily high sunshine hours each year! Complete with an abundance of things to see, eat and do, here are four ways to dive into Nelson, New Zealand.
1. Get outdoors
Nelson, and its surrounds, are home to some of the best outdoor gems in the South Island. At the top of our list are the Abel Tasman or Nelson Lakes National Parks. Locals and travellers love to adventure here through the out-of-this-world scenery, either on foot, by kayak, mountain bike or even canyoning!
If you want to witness pristine waters, head to Te Waikoropupū Springs in Golden Bay. These are the largest freshwater springs and have special significance to the local iwi (tribe), Ngati Tama. While you can’t swim there (out of respect and to preserve the water quality), there is an easy walking track that winds its way alongside the springs.
There are also some beautiful gardens in central Nelson to discover. Make sure you add Queens Gardens and Miyazu Gardens (named after Nelson’s sister Japanese city) to your list!
2. Eat and drink to your heart’s content
Despite not being one of New Zealand’s larger cities, Nelson certainly holds its own when it comes to its local food and drink.
Pic’s Peanut Butter is one of New Zealand’s most popular nut butters, so dive into a (free) Peanut Butter World tour! A feast for the senses, you’ll learn about its humble beginnings to now a B Corp Certified Kiwi brand.
Nelson boasts being the Craft Brewing Capital of New Zealand and has even been named the Top Cider City by National Geographic! For the wine aficionados, there are also a variety of vineyards for you to try the local Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays and Rieslings.
Whether you have a day, or several, you should embark on part of, or all of, the Great Taste Trail. This 175-kilometre cycle trail is full of vineyards, breweries, orchards, art galleries, and boutique shops! It offers a fun way to learn about the history of the region, all while cycling through spectacular countryside!
3. For the thrill-seekers
If you’re after an adrenaline rush, head to the nearby township of Murchison. Here, there are four rivers that meet to form the largest free-flowing catchment of water in the whole country. The flow-on effect from this is a perfect spot for jetboating, white water rafting and kayaking!
4. Dabble in the arts and history
If there’s a common interest, you can almost guarantee Nelson has a trail for it! For some history, check out the short and sweet Nelson Heritage Trail; or if you’re an art-lover, try the Golden Bay Art Trail or Ruby Coast Art Trail.
Famous art studios in Nelson include Hoglund Glassblowing Studio, where you can watch talented artists blow glass most days; or Jens Hansen Studio, where the iconic One Ring was crafted for the world-famous Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.