The City of Nelson
For a laid back holiday experience, you can’t beat the beautiful scenery and near perfect weather of Nelson. The city of Nelson is located near the exact centre of New Zealand, along the shore of the Tasman Bay at the northern tip of the South Island. Locals claim that there’s a postcard perfect photo opportunity at every turn, and the city’s unique geography, combined with the ebb and flow of the tides, means that this scenery is constantly changing.
Nelson regularly tops the nation’s statistics for longest hours of sunshine, with an average of 2400 hours each year. With a population of 54 000, Nelson is New Zealand’s tenth largest city. The area has been continuously populated by Maori iwi’s from the Moa Hunting period (roughly 700 – 800 years ago) until present day. The region’s fertile lands, pleasant climate and plentiful seafood made the district an attractive prospect for both Maori and European settlers, and these aspects are what make Nelson a popular tourist destination today.
Nelson is one of many New Zealand towns to be named after a Colonial war hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson, who defeated French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Alternately, Nelson is one of few New Zealand towns to have its own flag. The flag of the City of Nelson is mostly blue – the official colour for many of the towns sporting teams – and represents the town’s links to the water and its presence as the seat of a Catholic bishop.
The town’s economy is reliant on the ‘big four’ industries – seafood, horticulture, tourism and forestry. Growth industries include arts and crafts, aviation and information technology. The Nelson region covers five geographic areas;
- Nelson and Richmond, the urban centres,
- The picturesque townships of Mapua, Motueka and Moutere,
- Abel Tasman National Park,
- The scenic coastline of Golden Bay, and
- The alpine lake district of St Arnaud.
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Music, Films, Sculpture, Gardening, Farming, Kites, Food and Beverages Mark the Festivities in Nelson
In Nelson, festivals are a major source of recreation. People socialize, buy items, experience music, see film shows, and take part in entertainment from time to time in all major festivals in Nelson. The cool breeze from the bay makes the ambience just suitable to enjoy a perfect holiday in this culturally active society.
While most of the festivals are celebrated on a yearly basis, there are some which are biennial. Many set up stalls, booths, or workshops while few others celebrate the festivities in auditoriums. There are numerous minor festivals as well. Travelers traveling with family or backpackers visiting New Zealand make it a point to visit Nelson during the major festivals.
To witness art and culture in Nelson it is necessary to stay on in the city for a year and take part in the fests organized from time to time. No wonder, youngsters pick up seasonal jobs or stay as couch surfers in Nelson city or downtown to experience the ethos of the place.
Ecofest – Held during August, the festival offers a platform where eco-friendly products and services are showcased. Various messages, anecdotes, and cultural events are organized for tourists to enjoy.
Garden Festival – For those in love with flora, this festival is a great event. Various garden plants, art and craft to decorate gardens, garden furniture, pottery works, and ornamental grasses are displayed and sold to avid customers.
Nelson Arts Festival – This spring time festivity revolves around stories, mirth, skits, and comedies. Laced up with the mesmerizing tales are songs and music.
Cherry Blossom Festival – This September festivity is all about music, karate, and judo demonstration. It offers a demonstration on calligraphy, origami, and Japanese tea ceremony as well.
Allshorts Short Film Festival – If you love audio-visual art then you must visit Nelson during October. This festival offers various types of experimental music, video, documentary, and comedy shows.
Nelson Bay Sculpture Festival – Various types of sculpture is showcased in this festival that are created by the old, experienced and the young amateurs. There is sandcastle competition held as a part of fun and entertainment in this festivity.
Nelson Jazz & Blues Festival – Music lovers, especially those who love jazz music participate in this festival. About 200 or more musicians are brought in to perform at 50 events across the Nelson Bay to Tasman area.
Brightwater Wine & Food Festival – During summer, this festival ushers drinking, eating, binging, and music. Cider, beer, and wine rule the roost. Vineyard farms in Brightwater host the fest.
Evolve Festival – This health and well being festival showcases Feng shui, yoga, tai chi, hypnotism, and natural products to promote healthy living.
Nelson Winter Music Festival – This July event is organized by Nelson School of Music. Eminent musicians and singers are brought in to perform their melodious tunes.
…And, there are many smaller ones as well which are celebrated with great pomp and grandeur.
Relaxing yet Affordable Nelson Accommodation allows Discounted Group Booking, Long Stays, and Off-Season Rates
Nelson accommodation range from expensive luxury motels and resort to modest family set ups, such as holiday parks, bed & breakfast inns, and apartments. There are also backpacker’s hostels, comfy yet low priced dormitories, and campervans-on-rent.
Travelers on a mission, such as travel writers, youngsters on a working holiday, or business people conducting conferences often check in to various accommodations in Nelson as per their budget and requirements. Family goers often book affordable deals which allow complimentary options, discounts, and all-inclusive facilities. In a nutshell, there is a room for all – from luxury motels to budget self-help rental apartments.
Luxurious Boutique Motels and Resorts
A perfect view of Abel Tasman or beach-side resort of Corlette Beach and Port Stephen’s would be a desired location for any tourist. With boutique motels and plush 5-star rating hotels, a holiday at Nelson would be a dream well realized for international travelers. In Nelson you can avail such accommodations. Bronte Country Estate has spa facility and multi-cuisine restaurants. There is a small vineyard in the vicinity, recreational hub, and swimming pool. However, this resort is not alone – there are many more.
There are family resorts too which have a kid’s club, billiard room for youngster teens, and massage center for the adults. Top modern yet boutique resorts with stylish interiors are Peppers Anchorage Port Stephens, Mantra Aqua Resort, Apartments Marina Resort, and many more such beach-side hotels.
Modest Backpackers’ Den
Families often put up at Nelson downtown in farmstays and holiday homes. Some book comfy yet affordable apartments. It is not only affordable but gives you a peek into the native Maori culture, food habits, and their lifestyle. Some even enjoy a modest yet memorable wedding in the Kiwi-style. Themed dinners and ball room parties are a part of the treat. Warwick House is one such typical hub for backpackers. Tasman Bay Backpackers in South Island offers a room for only 25 Dollars. There are complimentary dishes, internet surfing facility, and friendly advice to tour Nelson to the guests.
Many backpackers also choose holiday homes and homestays while holidaying at Nelson. Often the location is at a remote bucolic set up at suburbs of Nelson. Many youngsters on a working holiday visa, work for a sheep shearing project and reside at farmstays. If your family does not mind staying in the rural setup, you can opt for farmstays near wineries. A backpacker’s lodge would cost around 50 dollars per night.
Mobile Homes – Campervans, Camps
For 50 or 30 Dollars, one can even book campervan, car rentals, and motorhomes. It offers independent travel to the wilderness with like-minded team members. You can live and enjoy life in your own terms without shelling too much for it.
What to Look for?
Look for early bird discounts or last-minute travel deals and special family packages that provides free-stays, meals, and facilities. If you are traveling alone look for couch surfers or dormitories.
Perched among the Alpine Region, Lakes of Nelson are a Delight for Travelers – both Young and Old
The Nelson Lake Area forms one of the beautiful spots in New Zealand. In the Southern Alps, there are a number of Alpine lakes which are laced up with evergreen parks, undulating landscapes, and native bush. Trekkers, nature lovers, bird watchers, and hikers visit the Nelson lakes from time to time to pursue bush walking, hiking, and bird watching. Some top spots in the Nelson Lake Area include Saint Arnaud or Lake Rotoiti, Lake Rotoroa, Blue Lake, Lake Matiri, Lake Taupo, and Nelson Lake Park. The serenity and untouched beauty are prime attractive features why tourists visit the region each year.
Nelson Lake National Park
The area from Southern Alps to the southern fringes of Nelson city is the Nelson Lake National Park. During summers, colorful wild flowers bloom in the region. Glaciers landscapes, undulating peaks, cool lakes, and native bush form a major part of the lake scenery. The beech forest covers the entire area from January to April.
Saint Arnaud or Lake Rotoiti
This lake is around 90 km away from Nelson in the northern end of South Island. Perched up on the alpine mountains, the lake and its surrounding areas attract tourists interested to ski, hike, or camp in the cool bucolic countryside. The inhabitants of the neighboring lake area are friendly towards the tourists who come in large numbers to camp at various campsites, such as West Bay and Kerr Bay. For trampers, a modest Yellow House youth hostel is the ideal accommodation youngsters can expect at the lake premises.
This lake is the second largest lake that is flanked by Kahurangi National Park on one side and Murchison on the other. Along the dams and quake hit rubble, many travelers hike through the area to check out the flora and fauna of Matiri River, the lake, and the surrounding areas.
Situated in Tasman, this lake is the smallest of all the lakes in Nelson. Drained by Sabine River and Buller River, this region is visited by trampers, youngsters on a camping trip, and ornithologists.
This lake is in the midst of beech forest and drained by D’Urville and Sabine Rivers. Apart from camping and hiking, people love to go for fly-fishing trips.
Top Recreation and Entertainment
All lakes in Nelson are apt for youngsters who love water sports, enjoy fishing, or love to mingle in the wild. Water-skiing, rafting, and boat jetties are the top attractions for those holidaying on the Nelson Lake Area. As most of these lakes are fed by rivers, fresh water fish is found in abundance. Trout fishing is a popular pastime among the travelers.
From time to time, various eco tours, guided trekking trips to the Alpine Mountains, bird watching expeditions, hiking trips across the mountainous terrain and bush-walking through the native bush lands are organized. If you are here on a wintry day, you can go for skiing trips. Lake Angelus on the other hand offers lake cruises where you can bump into an island with hot pools.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) huts at Lake Rotoiti and Rotoroa offer nature lovers to experience at least a day of tranquility and fun at the pristine lake area. From rifleman to robins, tomtits, and kaka, there are hundreds of New Zealand based birds thriving in this region.
So, be ready with your backpack, camera, binoculars, camping kit, and a well-planned itinerary to check out all the lakes of Nelson and its surrounding areas.
Tradition Comfy Camping Facilities in and around Nelson
Traveling through the rainforests in the West Coast in Nelson is an adventurous journey. Not only do the trekkers get to see the lush greenery and varied types of ferns and trees among the hedges but they can also check out the hot springs, untouched beauty of the mountains, and glaciers of the wetland. Hiking through these pristine turfs in Nelson is fun. Added to it, the travelers camp at various camping spots to enjoy a night in the wilderness.
At 2500 NZDollars for an 11-day trip, you can consider yourself lucky to get such an entertaining trip. Hikers often set up a camp to rest for the night. The bonfire adds an adventurous and social spirit in the group. If lucky, you may get backcountry huts to retreat for the night.
Plush Camping Spots
Consider this: A serene Kina Peninsula at Tasman where the view of the sea waters gushing into the land, huge mountains faraway, and bucolic countryside with farmhouses at the backdrop are seen from a grassy highland area. In such an idyllic place, a comfy camp would be a wonderful holiday for a romantic couple. Cottages meant for backpackers are available at a price of around 100 Dollars. Caravan would cost around 60 Dollars.
Often, youngsters want a perfect camping environment with a touch of sophistication. At Maitai Valley Motor camp, there are numerous powered caravans, hundreds of tent sites, and many more cabins to accommodate hikers who want camp and enjoy a nomadic lifestyle. On the banks of the Maitai River, the tranquility of the nature is evident. As the bush setting is just near at hand, many youngsters try setting up traditional tents to enjoy a hardcore camping trip in this milieu.
Nelson has quite a number of natural habitats where travelers visit each year with their entire brood. One such site is on the banks of Brook Stream where plush camping resorts have come up. If you are ready to enjoy the fun-filled life of camping with tents, you have to book for the camping items at Brook Valley Holiday Park. Here, you can enjoy a night by hiring tents, power sites, or cabins. In the day, you can take a trip to the bush lands and the Dun Mountain Walkway.
Nelson has many sites ideally meant for campervans, caravans, and tents. If required, you can also book cabins or bunks for a relatively comfortable stay at the bucolic setting in the countryside.
Beachside holiday parks, bucolic outskirts, and native bush lands in Nelson have made camping trips an age-old concept that is still followed even today. With the rise in sophistication, pitching tents is no longer a hassle or the only way to camp at untouched areas in Nelson. It is quite the in thing today to park a portable home, caravan, or a comfy tent at various powered sites. Caravans with cooking facilities are also available while you can also take up the traditional camping tours where hardships and struggle to meet the demands of the nature are a reality.
So, tourists are in for a treat as there are varied camping options available in Nelson for all to enjoy a fulfilling holiday.
Traveling in a Bike to Enjoy Daring Backpacking in Nelson
Nelson has narrow bridges, tapered ridges, orchards and vineyards interspersed in the farmlands, Kauri forests, and coastal hills, which are just right for touring on a bike. It is also possible to walk the innumerable trails in Nelson, but biking through them would make the trip adventurous, entertaining, and less tiring.
So, if you are ready with your bike with an indomitable energy of a youngster, set off with your camera to capture some awesome views of the crystal blue waters of the sea, pristine coastal area, and lush green flora of the hills.
Trails to Nature
Biking, especially mountain biking has never been as interesting as those done in Tasman region in Nelson. Today, backpackers hire cycles; enroll in biking trips and travel through the Heaphy track and Dun Mountain. Don’t worry about your biking efficacy as there are tours for beginners, seniors, and those who are just tourists. It always isn’t biking all the way. The Great Taste Trail for instance, offers the bikers a boat trip to the Rabbit Island and Classic Beach. Cyclists also get a glimpse of the vineyards and wineries where exquisite wines are prepared.
The multi-day ride takes the cyclists to different sub-routes depending on the season. From coastal town of Mapua to Richmond the cyclists trudge their way through the adulating terrain. The apple farms at Mapua are worth watching. If required, you can even take a trip to the breweries that make fruit beer from the apples during the autumn months. Don’t miss to sip a drink at Waimea Estates vineyard at a small yet pristine bucolic town, Brightwater.
Bike around the City
Many cycle companies offer bikes to tourists and charge a rental for the same. It could be half-a-day, entire day, or multiple days trip. Biking trips to Abel Tasman enable bikers to check out Tinline Bay and estuary near it. Bikers often stop to pursue kayaking or boating in this region before carrying on to the Guilbert Point and Apple Tree Bay. A trip to the idyllic Nikau palm groves, limestone gullies, Rata forest, and vines in between provide a perfect adventurous holiday trip to the nature lovers-cum-cyclists. Take your binoculars and zoom lens to get a glimpse of rare birds in their natural habitat. You can spot Kereru birds, rodents, and marsupials co-habiting in the wild.
Ride to the Vineyards, Orchards, and Brewery Farms
Nelson is a backpacker’s delight, especially for those who want to visit the various wineries, fruit beer-making breweries, and other fruit beverage farms. The bucolic life of Nelson is invigorating. You needn’t stick to a scheduled tour company for such rides. Early morning, simply venture into a village, say Sarau or Upper Mautere. From far, one can see the hop plantations and the roof tops of the hop kilns. The people in the farmlands are gracious and hospitable. You can end up tasting beer, cidar, juices from the breweries and wineries.
Consider it a picnic or a holiday to the villages of Nelson; you can enjoy a satiating tour to the neighboring areas of Nelson – only, with a bike at hand.
Wildlife in Nelson is still a reality today even when erosion and pollution have withered many parts of flora worldwide. The uninterrupted estuarine forests, nikau palm groves, rata, and ferns grow in the untouched natural habitat of Nelson and its neighboring areas. In this rich forested area, thousand species of birds thrive, some of which are near extinct ones. Marine organisms live in the estuarine waters of Nelson bays while migratory water birds feed on them and breed in the region each year.
Rare Insects, Arachnids, and Millipedes
In the rainforests of Kahurangi holds some unique natural treasures. There are age old fossils embedded in rare rocks, shafts and sinkholes where many caves are also found. Naturalists are tempted to this area as it has giant snails that can grow up to one-meter long. They are carnivores as well. Cave Spider also dwells in the caves and can be identified with long hairy legs. In between the rocky undulations and crevices you can find various worms, millipedes, and centipedes creeping long. Naturally, insect and worm-eating birds are seen in the vicinity. From robins to tui and bell birds, there are nearly 20 species of native birds living in this region.
The Whanganui Inlet in Golden Bay hosts some millions of aquatic species. The coastal forests taper into marshes in the estuarine region of Westhaven. Tidal waves inundate the marsh lands and brings with it knot, flatfish, oyster, godwit, and eelgrass. Wading birds breed in these areas and also in the areas near Nelson and Marlborough. The Kaikura Peninsula in Tasman also attracts thousands of tourists each year. Backpackers with a penchant for water sports and love for nature, usually stick on to this area for at least a fortnight or so. Whales, seals, dolphins, crayfish and birds entertain the guests. Many go for surfing or for deep sea cruising to get a glimpse of these marine species.
At Abel Tasman National Park, there are coastal walking tracks for walkers to enjoy the walk and see some lifetime glimpse of rare species. At Marahau, local Maori tribes live happily among the wild. At a distance, a Maori wada or war canoe can be noticed cruising through the waters. There are water taxis plying just for backpackers to enjoy boating, sightseeing, and cruising in the turquoise blue waters of the sea. Faraway at Kaiteriteri, the travelers sailing on the waters can see rocky headlands at the coasts with lush forests interspersed in between the rocky fringes.
The Brook Waimarama Sanctuary in Brook Valley Road is ornithologists’ delight as thousands of birds make their nests in this sanctuary for ages. It is also a good venue to walk the trail. Many hikers take this trip around the sanctuary while some move on to Nelson Lakes. The area hosts Royal Albatross, near extinct large eagle, Haast’s Eagle, and flightless birds, Moa and Kakapo. The birds make their homes in these parts each year. The Department of Conservation has taken measures to ensure that the rare species of birds don’t become extinct. Nelson hosts some of these unique native birds which you’d never find elsewhere in this world.
Sightseeing in Nelson
World of Wearable Art Museum
This amazing museum is often referred to by its acronym, WOW; a wholly appropriate title, as the World of Wearable Art Museum has a definite wow factor. The gallery showcases the entrants to the World of Wearable Arts Awards Show and uses music, lighting and special effects to recreate the show atmosphere. The museum also has a Classic Car Gallery, which exhibits the most sought after cars from three centuries of motoring. WOW is a must see for fashionistas and rev heads!
Boulder Bank and Lighthouse
This unusual Nelson land form really has to be seen to be believed. The Boulder Bank is a thirteen kilometre stretch of boulders that separates Nelson from the Tasman Bay. Naturally formed cliffs and rocky substrate exist from Mackay Bluff to Nelson Harbour. In 1905, a 60 metre wide gulley was carved away to provide an entrance to the Nelson port. This is now known as The Cut. The lighthouse is located near the port end of Boulder Bank.
Rai Valley Cottage
This colonial cottage, handmade by an early pioneering family, has been restored to its former glory. The house, which was built from totara slabs crafted by its first owner, Charles Turner, remains structurally sound; meanwhile, the Historic Places Trust, with help from local residents, have used period pieces to recreate the colonial interior decor. Visitors may view the interior, which includes authentic furnishings and watercolours by local artists, through glass observation panels.
Rainbow Ski Area
Open from late June until early October, the slopes at Rainbow Ski fields reach heights of 1760 metres, which helps to collect the winter snow. The wide, uncrowded trails are great for beginners while experienced skiers can enjoy the high powder runs and chutes. They also have snowboarding facilities.
Tasman Golf Club
The Tasman Golf Club offers a unique golfing experience by combining a challenging and interesting course with priceless views of Tasman Bay. Whether you’re a serious player or someone who’s always wanted to learn, you can’t beat the gorgeous setting of this club. Visitors are welcome.
Enriching Wellness Day Spa
If all that sightseeing is wearing you down, enjoy a day at this Nelson day spa. This locally owned and operated business uses predominately organic products, so you can feel good about supporting a sustainable business. The Enriching Wellness Day Spa offers massage, hot rock therapy, facials and body scrubs.
The Nelson / Marlborough region has a tourism base as its primary sector. For overseas students there is possible employment in the hospitality sector as it is a direct spin-off from tourism.
Seasonal employment is also available within the various orchards and particularly the vineyards in the Nelson area. These jobs would be particularly suitable for students as they may have a degree of flexibility and are only temporary. Waiting tables at restaurants is also an option as this region ranks high in catering to tourists and sightseeing excursions.
Students also can earn money by becoming on-line writers and getting paid through pay-pal. This option is unmatched in its flexibility and ease of scheduling – it's all your own choosing! And what better place to write about than in the sunniest locale in all New Zealand surrounded by stunning bays, inlet views and vineyards.
Nelson enjoys a temperate climate, with long hours of sunshine. January and February are generally the warmest months, with temperatures averaging 22 degree Celsius (or 72 degrees Fahrenheit), while July is coolest, with average temperatures of 12 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit). Snow is rare in the townships, but common in the surrounding mountainous areas. Even during winter, Nelson enjoys long sunny days. Many New Zealanders claim that Nelson has the best climate in the nation.
Nelson is surrounded by Tasman Bay to the north, and mountain ranges to the east, south and west. The city serves as a gateway to many of the national parks within its borders and as a result, is a popular ecotourism and adventure tourism town. Many areas within Nelson boast beaches, forests, pristine bodies of water and prominent cave systems.
Nelson's Famous Residents
Nelson's Famous Residents
Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron of Nelson, grew up in nearby Spring Grove (now known as Brightwater) and attended school in Nelson. Rutherford was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908 and is now known as the father of nuclear physics, due to his innovative and ground breaking work with atoms. His image appears on the New Zealand one hundred dollar note.
Nelson and Richmond
Nelson is home to the busiest port in New Zealand and offers heritage trails, high quality food and wine, fine arts and extreme activities, all within an exciting and thriving city. The crystal clear Maitai River runs through Nelson’s centre and its path to sea can be followed via a beautiful scenic walkway. The historic Wakapuaka Cemetery is the burial place of many European settlers and, interestingly, a Russian princess. The Nelson School of Music is the oldest music school in the nation, and tourists may also enjoy the scenic Nelson’s Queens Gardens and the unusual Christ Church cathedral.
Nelson has an international reputation as a centre for the arts. The Nelson Arts Festival heralds the beginning of the summer festivals season, while the Wearable Arts Awards and the World of Wearable Art museum cater to those who prefer their art more avant garde.
Richmond is a smaller town that boasts gorgeous scenic rivers and gardens. Fresh food enthusiasts will appreciate the plentiful roadside produce stalls, while shopaholics can enjoy a laid back shopping experience. Nearby Rabbit Island beach also provides a relaxed holiday experience.
The twin cities of Nelson and Richmond offer many outdoor pursuits, such as four wheel motorbikes, horse riding and kite surfing. Families should enjoy Tahunanui Beach, which boast a family playground, zoological park, mini golf, model railway, water slide and roller skating.