Nelson is a lifestyle; that's the best way to describe it. Situated at the top north-west of the South Island, it is the sunniest region in New Zealand. When visiting Nelson make sure you explore the city and the National Parks.
Nelson is a vibrant and sunny coastal region, home to golden beaches and sheltered bays perfect for sailing adventures.
Creative relaxation in Nelson City:
Scattered throughout Nelson are artists' galleries and workshops, historic buildings and innovative cafes. Use a craft map or the Nelson Guide Book ('Art in its Own Place'), available from the Visitor Information Centre, to create your own itinerary.
- Visit the World of WearableArt & Collectable Cars Museum - just ten minutes from the city centre.
- Spend a few hours at the regional art gallery - the Suter, Te Aratoi o Whakatu. Be sure to view the gallery's collection of works by Sir Tosswill Woollaston, who was one of the founders of modern art in New Zealand.
- Watch glassblowers create at Höglund Art Glass, set within 7 acres of tranquil gardens.
- Enjoy the colour and fun of Nelson's famous Saturday market. Meet artists and craftspeople from the region.
- Expand your mind on the Rongoa Maori (natural medicines and bush walk). You'll find out about traditional treatments while walking in original native forest.
- Charter a yacht for a morning or several days. Sail to the Abel Tasman National Park.
- Gain an interesting insight into Nelson’s past pioneers and the people and places that make Nelson so unique today, at the Nelson Provincial Museum which showcases the pride of Nelson’s history.
Revive yourself in one of three National Parks:
Each of the national parks in the Nelson region has a distinct look and feel. Kahurangi is wild and huge, with a heart of solid rock. Nelson Lakes is elegant, calm and alive with birdsong. Abel Tasman is small, sea-washed and incredibly beautiful.
- The Abel Tasman Coastal Track (three to five days) is a popular year-round walk that can be undertaken with or without a guide. Sea kayaking tours (one day through to multi day trips) allow you to explore the coast from the water. Huts, camping grounds and private lodges provide accommodation along the way.
- Kahurangi National Park is home to an exceptional variety of native plants and wildlife. The best known hiking trail is the Heaphy Track, a walk that takes four to five days. Kahurangi is the backdrop for many scenes in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.
- In the Nelson Lakes National Park, which is surrounded by mountain ranges, you can walk beside Lake Rotoiti or follow an alpine trail to Lake Angelus. The heavily protected native bush lets you see New Zealand as it would have been 500 years ago.
Absolutely gorgeous Golden Bay:
The road trip to Golden Bay is an extraordinary experience in itself - a scenic drive over Takaka Hill, the marble mountain.
- Te Waikoropupu Springs, New Zealand's largest freshwater springs, are set in a reserve protecting old gold workings, regenerating forest and a fine patch of mature bush.
- Take a guided safari to Farewell Spit - a bird sanctuary and wetland of international importance. You can walk on the base of the spit or take a 4WD safari along to the lighthouse.
- Wharariki Beach has a wild and beautiful coastal landscape, where the wind and waves have created massive rock and sand dune formations.
Follow your nose to Nelson's finest wines:
West of Nelson there are vineyards to discover and fascinating beach towns to enjoy.
- Enjoy a leisurely tour of the local vineyards - discover the region's intensely flavoured Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, as well as vibrant Pinot Noir.
- Throw your leg over a horse and trek across the tranquil rural landscape or along the beach at Marahau, Puponga or Wharariki.
- Call into the café and smokehouse at Mapua for the freshest smoked seafood you've ever tasted.
- Book into one of the health retreats in the region and rejuvenate mind and body.
Nelson is a gorgeous part of New Zealand with idyllic coastal spots:
Nelson really steps things up with it's bounty of National Parks. Nelson Lakes National Park is spectacular with mountain ranges, remote lakes and an alpine pass for good measure. Choose from a range of walks, short or long, or do a spot of trout fishing at Lake Rotorua.
Abel Tasman National Park is a paradise of white-sand beaches. Home to native seals, dolphins and sea birds, it's the perfect place for a kayaking trip:
Known for its sunshine and calm waters, Nelson's Abel Tasman is blessed with some of New Zealand's most spectacular coastline. Paddle your kayak through sheltered waters and stop off on perfect, deserted beaches to explore. Watch the antics of fur seals and sea birds, and, if you are lucky, you might spot a pod of playful dolphins or a shy Little Blue Penguin.