Famed for its food and wine, funky arts scene, historic landmarks and mild climate, Nelson is the perfect family holiday destination all year round.
This small coastal city is nestled along the banks of the Tasman Bay and has the highest rates of sunshine in the country. It’s compact enough to get around easily but big enough to provide plenty of buzz. There are many things to do in Nelson!
The Quality Inn Nelson, is ideally located in Nelson’s CBD, providing easy access to many local points of interest. Nelson Market is less than three blocks away and offers a variety of retailers and artisan goods. Boasting over 200 stalls, this Saturday market showcases the very best of local produce and creative talent. The smaller Sunday market focuses on vintage, recycled and collectible goods.
Perched on top of Church Hill, lies Nelson’s landmark art deco cathedral, which dominates the central city skyline. The cathedral’s granite steps are a popular lunchtime spot and are conveniently close to other attractions.
Amongst these is the studio of Jens Hansen, the artisan jeweller who designed and created the One Ring for Sir Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The studio is open to the public, selling replicas of “the precious”and other jewellery featured in the movies.
Also within two blocks of the cathedral is the Nelson Provincial Museum,the oldest museum in New Zealand, which houses a Collection of national significance.
Nelson is New Zealand’s second-oldest city and is proud of its history. Founders Heritage Park, just north of the city centre, is a living heritage village and home to local businesses, art studios and a craft brewery.
Be sure to check out the very popular World of Wearable Art & Classic Cars Museum near the airport for some mind-boggling exhibits and more LOTR designs.
Nelson is a great place to spend time outdoors. If you want a workout in the city itself, walk to the Centre of New Zealand. This 20-30 minute walk starts in the Botanic Reserve and climbs to stunning views of the city and surrounding coast.
There are six beaches in and near Nelson. Most are shallow and safe for even the smallest family member. The city also has three public swimming pools.
To really get the adrenaline pumping, ride the world’s longest flying fox at Happy Valley Adventures, 15 minutes out of Nelson. The Skywire is three kilometres long, takes an hour to complete and reaches up to 100 kilometres per hour. A minimum height restriction of 1.2 metres applies.
Once you’ve overcome your adrenaline rush, you can enjoy a relaxed dinner and experience Nelson’s vibrant and diverse culinary scene. Surrounded by market gardens and vineyards and home to the largest fishing fleet in Australasia, the city owes much to the culinary and cultural legacy of its Italian settlers.
Meals are reasonably priced and most cafes and restaurants have kids’ menus.
For something a little different, take a 30-minute drive to Jester House near the artists’settlement of Tasman. This eatery was voted “New Zealand’s Best Café”in 2013. Safe play areas and tame eels, which can be hand-fed, make Jester House very popular with the kids. Great food and an extensive list of craft beers and ciders keep the adults happy too.
With three National Parks all within a 90-minute drive, the Nelson-Tasman region offers an amazing diversity of landscape, ranging from rugged mountains and pure alpine lakes to golden beaches and lush temperate rainforest.
Until 2011, the magical Te Waikoropupu (“Pupu”) Springs in Golden Bay, 90 minutes from Nelson, were renowned for containing the world’s clearest fresh water. That title now belongs to Blue Lake in Nelson Lakes National Park but the Springs are far more accessible and, with visibility to 63 metres, still very impressive in their own right.
Have a fun family adventure in Nelson!