Nelson (New Zealand)

Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia New Zealand South Island Nelson Region Nelson





© em78

Nelson (Whakatū) is a city of about 45,000 people on the northern tip of the South Island on the shore of Tasman Bay. It was one of the first European cities in New Zealand and was settled in the early 19th century. Its early settlers built many amazing buildings, which gives Nelson a certain charm. Today it is has become a major center for the arts in New Zealand. If the arts is not up your alley, then go and explore some of the amazing national parks nearby, which make great day trips.



Sights and Activities

One of the great things about Nelson is if your travelling in a group there is something for everyone to do in Nelson. If one person just wants to chill on the beach, another person go hiking and the last person wants to take an art class for one day Nelson is perfect. This is because all of those activities, and few more too, can be easily done and organized in Nelson. Therefore spending a few days to a week in Nelson is a great idea!

Christ Church Cathedral

This large Anglican Cathedral is an amazing sight in Nelson. Located on upper Trafalgar Street this is a must see. The church was built only in 1965 but its stately stone makes it look a lot older. The church can hold over 1,200 people and its 58 metres high!

Founders Park

Founders Park is a heritage park on the outskirts of the city, a short car ride or a 20-minute walk from the centre of town. The park is home to many original buildings dating back to Nelson's earliest days of European occupation that have been transported to the park. A school building, church, fire station, newspaper office, railway station, railway worker's factory-built kit house are among the buildings that have been recreated in the park. There's also a cafe that operates outside of the worst winter months. There's a marine exhibition too which claims to have the biggest collection of ships in bottles in the Southern Hemisphere. There's a working stretch of the former rail line which operated in Nelson in the park too.

Historic Buildings

  • The Amber House is a beautiful two story villa built in the 19th century. Located at 46 Weka Street.
  • The Broadgreen House is a great mid 19th century home located in Nelsons historic district.
  • The Cabragh House - At one time a house, then a school and now a stunning home with some great Victorian furniture.
  • The Founders Heritage Park has many wonderful old homes.

National Parks

Abel Tasman National Park, NZ

Abel Tasman National Park, NZ

© bex76

All of the National Parks around Nelson are stunning. Although Abel Tasman sometimes steals the spot light, checking out some of the other national parks is also a great time, which are almost as beautiful as Abel Tasman. It is very easy to organize day trips to multi day exhibitions in these national parks and well worth the time.

Other Sights and Activities

  • The Centre Of New Zealand is a worthwhile hike not far from town. The hike to the point that lays claim to being the geographical centre of the country affords great views of the city, the bay and the coastline.
  • The Nelson Provincial Museum is located at the corner of Hardy and Trafalgar streets this museum has an amazing collection about the Nelson region's history, from its geological origins to the present. Opens everyday at 10:00am except Good Friday and Chirstmas Day.
  • The World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars Museum is the place to check out some clothing, jewelry and cars. Located at 95 Quarantine Rd, Annesbrook, Nelson. Open daily 10:00am to 5:00pm everyday, except Christmas Day.
  • Nelson Bone Carving - Want to make your own bone pendent for a necklace instead of buying one? Then take this one day workshop for only $65. Everything, including pick up in Nelson, is included in the charge except lunch. This is a great way to learn more about the traditional jewelry making of New Zealand and make your own souvenir to bring home with great teachers.
  • Caving - Go caving around Takaka Hill, Mount Owen or Mount Arthur, which hold some of the deepest unexplored caverns in the southern hemisphere.
  • Glass Blowing - Check out some local glass artists at Flamedaisy Glass Design or Höglund Art Glass Studio & Gallery.
  • Wood Carvers - Go see the local wood scene at many small shops around Nelson.
  • Natureland Zoo is the zoo located in Nelson. Although a bit small it is a lot of fun for children.



Events and Festivals




Nelson has a temperate oceanic climate, with mild winters and warm summers. Nelson has rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year and has fewer frosts due to the highly marine geography of New Zealand. Winter is the stormiest time, when gales and storms are more common. Nelson has one of the sunniest climates of all major New Zealand centres, earning the nickname 'Sunny Nelson' with an annual average total of over 2,400 hours of sunshine. The highest recorded temperature in Nelson is 36.3 °C, the lowest -6.6 °C.



Getting There

By Plane

Nelson Airport (NSN) is a small airport located near to Nelson. Right now commercial flights only fly domestically and there are flights with Air Nelson to/from Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, with Air2there to/from Paraparaumu, and with Soundsair to/from Wellington. Currently international private jets can also land and take off from the airport.

By Car

Two hours driving from Picton, 1.5 hours from Blenheim and 6 hours driving from Christchurch via either SH1 and Kaikoura or the slightly shorter and more scenic SH6 route over the Lewis Pass and via Murchison.

By Bus

InterCity Coachlines is New Zealand's national coach company and operates over 150 services to more than 600 destinations nationwide. Daily services connect into Nelson from around the South Island.

Naked Bus stops in Nelson and offers $1 fares on most of their routes. Finding these fares can be difficult but rewarding.



Getting Around

The original city centre, comprising the CBD and The Wood is small enough to walk around, but for access from the surrounding suburbs and around the sites and attractions of the whole city and region you'll likely want to rent a car, take a taxi, or have a fresh set of legs and a bicycle.




Nelson has a wide variety of excellent cafes and restaurants using fresh local produce. Nelson is the largest fishing port in Australasia, so the fresh seafood is always great.




Early settlers from both England and northern Germany found the hops that they had brought with them grew well in this region and they soon started to develop and propagate peculiarly New Zealand varieties such as Motueka, Nelson and Riwaka. Within a century or so, Nelson grown hops became valued as both high quality and disease free. Nowadays, all of New Zealand's commercial crop is grown in a triangle roughly formed by Brightwater, Motueka and Tapawera. The six week harvesting period in early autumn provides seasonal work for backpackers.

How natural then that Nelson is now renowned as the craft brewing capital of Oceania. A baker's dozen of craft breweries of varying size now stretch from the Mussel Inn Brewery of Onekaka in Golden Bay to the swanky new bar of Founders Brewery opposite the windmill in Founders Park, Nelson. Most of these breweries welcome visitors for tours and subsequent sampling at their in-brewery bars.

Many bars are located in the Central Business District on Bridge Street between Collingwood and Trafalgar Streets.





Accents on the Park335 Trafalgar SquareHostel-
Bakers Lodgep.o. box 429 MotuekaHostel-
Bumbles Bridge Street Backpackers8 Bridge StreetHostel-
Kershaw House10 Wensley Road RichmondGuesthouse-
Paradiso Backpackers42 Weka Street NelsonHostel-
Tasman Bay Backpackers10 Weka StreetHostel-
The Custom House252 Haven RoadHostel-
The Green Monkey129 Milton Street, NelsonHostel-
YHA Nelson Central59 Rutherford StreetHostel-



Keep Connected


Internet cafés are widely available throughout New Zealand at rates of around NZ$2-4, though sometimes more in smaller places. Besides internet and e-mail services, most big internet cafés also offer some way for travellers to connect their digital camera and burn cds. Many public libraries have public Internet access, and most of them offer short free internet sessions. Wi-Fi access is getting more and more common in for example coffee places or fast food chains. It is becoming more common for Wi-Fi to be provided at hotels and motels, though sometimes at a fee. Wireless Hotspots are located in many cities and towns all over New Zealand from dedicated Wireless providers from whom you can buy connect time. Many camping holiday parks also have such services available.


See also International Telephone Calls

Dial 111 for emergency police, fire or ambulance services. The worldwide emergency number for GSM mobile phones, 112, can also be used.
The country code is 64.

Most payphones in New Zealand require the use of phone cards for payment and it is getting harder to find payphones that accept coins. As phone cards are available at a lot of outlets, they are easy to purchase and very handy as a backup in case of emergencies. Many of them also accept creditcards. Local calls are free from residential phones and charges for calling outside that area can be found at the front of the regional phone books, amongst many other services.

Mobile telephone coverage is effectively national in near urban areas although the mountainous terrain means that outside the urban areas, and especially away from the main highway system, coverage does have huge dead patches. Do not rely on mobile phones in hilly or mountainous terrain. Mobile telephone users can call 555 only to report Non-emergency traffic safety incidents, such as a breakdown, road hazard or non-injury car crash, to the Police. There are currently three major mobile carriers in New Zealand.

  • Telecom operates a UMTS (3G) network, named XT Network, nationwide on 850MHz with supplementary 2100MHz in metropolitan areas. (the same frequencies as Telstra in Australia and AT&T in the U.S.)
  • Vodafone operates a GSM network on 900MHz/2100 MHz and a UTMS (3G) network operates nationwide 900MHz with supplementary 2100MHz coverage.
  • 2degrees operates a UMTS (3G) network (2100MHz) in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, with supplementary GSM coverage provided elsewhere by Vodafone.

A prepaid sim-card connection pack with $10 credit from Telecom or Vodafone costs around $30, and prepaid sim-cards from 2degrees cost $10. Telecom has broader coverage in remote areas away from major cities compared to Vodafone and 2degrees.


Most areas have dedicated PostShops, however stamps can also be bought at grocery shops, supermarkets and book stores. There are two main formats for domestic mail, namely Standard Post and Fast Post. Fast Post is used next day delivery between major towns and cities (two days from rural areas), whereas Standard Post will take a few working days to deliver nationwide. Standard costs NZ$0.50 for letters/postcards (NZ$0.80 for larger envelopes), Fast Post costs NZ$0.80 (NZ$1.20 for larger envelopes). International mail takes about 3-6 days to Australia (NZ$1.50), and 6-12 days to Europe, Asia and the United States (NZ$2). Post boxes are white, red and black and can be found in many areas throughout towns and cities, including information about when their contents are collected. Most post offices and smaller post shops have opening hours from 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am to 12:30pm on Saturday. You can buy stamps here, or at newsagents and general stores. For parcels, you can use the NZ Post or otherwise courier companies like TNT, DHL, UPS or FedEx.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: -41.270786
  • Longitude: 173.284

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This is version 18. Last edited at 13:12 on Aug 24, 16 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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