Located on New Zealand’s South Island, Nelson is affectionately known as the ‘Top of the South’ and is the second oldest city settlement in New Zealand and the oldest city in the South Island. A compact city, Nelson is the geographical centre of the country and is a picturesque coastal destination featuring some of the country’s most striking scenery and a range of things to do.
Throughout Nelson there are a variety of art galleries, workshops, cafes and historic buildings. Pay homage to the founders of New Zealand modern art at the Suter, Te Aratoi o Whakatu regional art gallery or watch Höglund Art Glass being created by glassblowers in 7 acres of gardens. The Nelson Provincial Museum also offers an insight into Nelson’s history and past pioneers, showcasing the places and people that make Nelson so unique.
When it comes to natural attractions, Nelson’s national parks offer a distinct look and atmosphere. The huge and wild Kahurangi has a solid rock heart while Nelson Lakes is calm, elegant and resplendent with birdsong and the sea-washed Abel Tasman is small yet incredibly beautiful. Taking 3 to 5 days, the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is popular year round and offers both guided and self-guided options. Famous as the backdrop for many of the scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies, Kahurangi National Park offers an incredible variety of flora and fauna. Nelson Lakes National Park offers protected native bush reminiscent of NZ 500 years ago and is surrounded by mountain ranges with walks along Lake Rotoiti and an alpine trail to Lake Angelus.
Don’t miss the road trip to Golden Bay offering an extraordinarily scenic drive over marble mountain Takaka Hill. Wharariki Beach is also wild and wonderful, offering massive sand dune and rock formations created by the wind and waves of this beautiful coastal landscape. The largest freshwater springs in New Zealand, Te Waikoropupu Springs are surrounded by mature bush, regenerated forest and a reserve protecting old gold workings.
Just west of Nelson there are also a fantastic range of beach towns, vineyards and things to see and do making it the perfect place to relax and enjoy some of the region’s intensely flavoured Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir along with fantastic fresh smoked seafood in Mapua.