Affectionately known as the ‘Top of the South’, Nelson is New Zealand’s second oldest city settlement and the South Island’s oldest city. Located on New Zealand’s South Island, Nelson is a compact city, yet is the geographical centre of the country and is a lovely coastal destination boasting some of New Zealand’s most striking scenery.
Christchurch is the international gateway to Nelson and getting to Nelson from Australia is easy thanks to a number of Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand direct daily flights. Taking between 3 to 10 hours, these flights to Christchurch depart Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Cairns, Gold Coast and Perth. If you’re wondering how to get to Nelson from Christchurch, it’s a scenic 5 hour drive along State Highway 7 and State Highway 6. However, if you don’t have time to spare Air New Zealand also offers a number of domestic flights from Christchurch to Nelson Airport, located just 15 minutes from downtown.
For a wonderful way to see the coast, ferries are a great way for getting to Nelson and provide passenger and vehicle access between Wellington in the North Island as well as Picton in the South Island. From Picton, regular coach services provide transport for inter-island ferry passengers to deliver you directly to Nelson. The ferry crossing between Wellington and Picton takes approximately 3 to 3.5 hours, with coach transfers from Picton to Nelson taking approximately 2 hours.
Of course many visitors enjoy a visit to Nelson as part of a South Island self-drive tour. Nelson is connected to Christchurch, Blenheim and the West Coast but a great network of roads which offer some truly spectacular scenery, including the Kaikoura coast. Getting to Nelson from Blenheim takes approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, while the journey from Westport to Nelson is a more lengthy 3 hours and 15 minutes. Those wanting to drive from Christchurch to Nelson need to be prepared for an even longer drive, with the journey taking approximately 6 hours. Allocate the whole day for getting to Nelson and stop and enjoy the scenery along the way.