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The Nelson region is the north-western half of the top of the South Island: this beautiful area of New Zealand lies between the northern edge of the Southern Alps and a great sweep of beaches.

Nelson's has a diverse culture that has grown in this rich area of resources and easy climate. In the Nelson region, and you can count on encountering a vital network of artists and craftspeople, farm and orchard settlements, Maori marae, alternative communities and adventurers and friendly New Zealanders happy to share their life with you.

Nelson is spread over the top of the South Island, and is reached by ferry from Wellington, inland from Christchurch via Lewis Pass On the way from Christchurch indulge yourself by soaking in the Maruia hot pools Nelson is known as the sunniest area in NZ, and many holiday makers make Nelson their home in the summer months to take advantage of this reputation.

Cook Strait Ferries, crossing to and from Wellington several times a day, still berth at the town of Picton, 29km north of Blenheim. Few sights compare with a sunset over the islands and inlets of Queen Charlotte Sound. Many cruises and fishing trips are available in the Marlbourgh Sounds from Picton or Havelock. Dolphins play with boats in the quiet water, and seals colonize the rocky shores. In the town itself, history take in some history by taking a look at the remnants of the whaling lifestyle, and by the Edwin Fox clipper, built in 1905 and bought for 10c before restoration!

Queen Charlotte Sound can also be admired from the Queen Charlotte drive, from Nelson to Havelock, or take a long stroll on the 67km Queen Charlotte walkway. Experienced guides, comfortable accommodation and a boat to carry your gear are all available, or walkers can be completely independent. The walkway ends at Anakiwa, where the Outward Bound adventure school offers courses to test the endurance of the real New Zealand adventurer.

Hundreds of artists are drawn to Nelson and the surrounding region's beauty, and craftspeople are spread across the province. Visitors can watch a glassblower twist penguins; or talk with painters, potters, sculptors and wood turners. Maori culture can be appreciated in a visit to Whakatu Marae, and settler history is preserved in restored homes, the Wakapuaka Cemetery, and the Bishop's School, a reconstruction of a 19th century classroom.

A massive cafe culture has grown in Nelson, and restaurants are everywhere. You can relax in the sun with a tea or coffee, and then dine on that day's seafood catch. Berry, stone fruit and kiwifruit flourish in the region's many orchards, and a bottle of fruit wine makes an unusual treat. Small family vineyards offer wine tastings and another speciality is beer, brewed traditionally from local hops.

South and west of Nelson, three national parks need to be looked at. From the alpine sights of the Nelson Lakes, through the stunning wilderness of Kahurangi, to the golden beaches and warm water of the Abel Tasman which is a popular location for both local and tourist. St Arnaud offers skiing, mountain climbing and tramping; the Heaphy and Wangapeka tracks stretch across to the West Coast; and the whole Takaka area is covered with caves. Harwoods Hole plunges 176m straight down, and clear water wells up through Pupu Springs.

The gentle beaches and tree-lined estuaries of the Abel Tasman and Golden Bay are a wonderful place to relax. Everybody can explore the Abel Tasman coastal walkway, or catch a boat or the popular sea kayak. Nature trails and side paths to such features as Cleopatra's Pool help visitors lose themselves in the Nelson region.

LarryTheTravelGuy - Nelson, New Zealand

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Nelson's climate:

Average Summer temperature; 21.5c
Warmest months; December to March
Average Winter temperature; 12.8c
Average Hours of sunshine per year; 2400hrs
Average annual rainfall; 970mm

Popular Nelson activities

Visit the Abel Tasman National Park and the rest of Nelson National parks
Walk the Abel Tasman Track
Follow an art and crafts trail around Nelson

Key Features

The art of harakeke (flax weaving) is passed on from one generation to the next.


Creativity unleashed
Nelson's creative community provides many opportunities for travellers to experiment with art. Workshops include glassblowing, pottery, bone carving, sculpture, authentic Maori flax weaving and cooking.

Kayaks in the Abel Tasman National Park


Outdoor adventure
Pack your sense of adventure and explore three distinctly different national parks. Try the skywire, sea kayaking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, sailing, horse trekking or seal swimming.

Wines produced by Neudorf Vineyards are known for their complex flavours.


Edible explorations
Indulge your passion for exceptional eating experiences. Nelson will tempt you with alfresco cafes, fine dining restaurants, premium vineyards, boutique breweries and locally made gourmet foods.

Key Tips

  • Produced locally, the Nelson Guide Book - Art in its Own Place is full of useful information and maps of where to find arts and crafts.
  • It takes between 3 and 5 days to walk the Abel Tasman Coastal Track. Buy hiking supplies at Marahau or Motueka.
  • Even in winter, it's likely to be sunny in Nelson. The region gets more than 2,500 hours of sunshine a year.
  • Nelson airport receives flights from all major New Zealand cities, as well as several provincial cities.





Population: 87,000
Area: 1,0207km2

Reviews / Comments for Nelson

Rating Averages


These are my picks for things to do in the area. Farewell Spit (on a good day you can see the North Island), Queen Charlotte Sound walks ,Mt Arthur is a nice place ,the St Arnaud lake area, hire bikes at Watson's Bay backpackers in Renwick and cycle around the local wineries. Abel Tasman Kayak. If you into tramping, walk the he Heaphy Track (this is one of the best walks around).

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