Nelson  is the second oldest settled city in New Zealand and the oldest in the South Island. Nelson is situated in a region often known as Nelson Tasman or the "Top of the South." It is actually slightly north of the capital city of Wellington. Together with Richmond, it has a population of around 50,000 ranking it as New Zealand’s 10th most populous city and the geographical centre of the nation.
Nelson is a compact coastal city set amongst some of New Zealand's most stunning scenery.
The city is the economic and cultural centre for the Nelson-Tasman region and offers an excellent range of shopping, eating and cultural experiences with an abundance of parks, rivers, beaches and nature trails to explore. It is the place that most kiwi's would like to retire to - if they could afford to, since Nelson has some of the most unaffordable housing and lowest "sunshine" wages in New Zealand.
Nelson i-SITE at Millers Acre Centre
Nelson is named after British Admiral Lord Nelson and many streets and features are named after his naval battles and comrades.
Nelson is New Zealand's oldest city since, although it was proclaimed a Bishop's See and city under letters patent by Queen Victoria on 27 September 1858 and after Christchurch's city charter, Pakeha settlement had started in earnest in Nelson in 1841, 9 years before the good ship Charlotte-Jane arrived in Christchurch on 16 December 1850.
Nelson is New Zealand's sunniest city with over 2,500 sunshine hours per year.
The Nelson region covers five distinct geographic areas:
- The heart of the parks, Golden Bay between the huge Kahurangi and tiny Abel Tasman national parks
The Nelson economy is based on the ‘big four’ industries; seafood, horticulture, tourism and forestry. Port Nelson is the biggest fishing port in Australasia. There are also a range of growth industries, including art and craft, aviation, engineering technology, and information technology.
The region's official tourism organisation is Nelson Tasman Tourism , which operates i-SITE Visitor Information Centres in Nelson City, Takaka in Golden Bay and in Murchison.
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 them can be difficult but rewarding.
Nelson Airport is the 4th busiest in New Zealand. It is serviced by Air New Zealand  and Sounds Air .
Air New Zealand offer regular flights to and from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and other provincial cities. Sounds Air offers flights around the north area of the south island and onto wellington.
Frequent Cook Strait ferry  services between Wellington and Picton with bus connections to Nelson.
Two hours driving from Picton, 1 1/2 hours from Blenheim and six hours driving from Christchurch.
Nelson City is small enough to walk around, but for access from the surrounding suburbs and around the sites and attractions of the city and region you'll likely want to rent a car, take a taxi, or have a fresh set of legs and a bicycle.
The City is serviced by a bus service which runs Monday to Saturday on four main routes: 1) Toitoi/Hospital, 2) Atawhai, 3) Brook/Maitai and 4) Washington Valley/Port Hills. Please see Nelson Bus Information .
For late night partiers there is also an excellent bus service which runs hourly until 3:15AM from Trafalgar Street to Richmond.
- WOW The World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars , is a museum dedicated to the fashion show that was held in Trafalgar Centre over seven nights in September each year until 2004. (The shows are now held in Wellington, but the museum remains in Nelson.) Thousands of people come from all over the world to see the most amazing (and sometimes bizarre) fashions made out of all kinds of materials. There is literally no limit to the exhibiting designer's imaginations
- Suter Art Gallery , has a large collection with emphasis on works by such 19th century artists as Gully, Lindauer and Van der Velden
- Miyazu Japanese Garden , inspired by Nelson's sister city Miyazu in Japan, is a traditional Japanese stroll garden creating a tranquil environment. Look out for the cherry blossoms in spring
- Natureland, a relatively small and amateurish zoo. Good for children due to low fences and short walking distance around the zoo. Contains wallabies, monkeys, meerkats, otters, llamas, a small aviary and more.
- Tahunanui Beach, one of the safest and finest family beaches in NZ. The ever popular and reported Beach Cafe lies adjacent to it for great food and drinks. Bus transport to and from Nelson available - see timetable.
- The Centre of New Zealand - a short walk up a hill close to the city centre and reacheable from the Botanic Garden (where the first game of Rugby was played in New Zealand). Good view from the top and an interesting walk through exotic and native vegetation to get to the Trigonometrical Point and Marker at the top.
- The Nelson Webcam - Nelson webcam 
- Founders Park- a collection of historic buildings located in Nelson, some with museums or historical displays attached. There is also an organic brewery (the only one in the Southern Hemisphere) with an attached cafe that serves good meals. There is also a craft bakery, and a chocolate shop, and a railway that runs on weekends.A great place to spend a half day or more.
- Christ Church Cathedral Nelson - a historic and often photographed Nelson landmark. Features iconic granite steps from Trafalgar Street to the Cathedral. Sunday Eucharist and Evensong services, usually with Choir.
- Cumulus Paragliding, 7 Tuffnell St, (toll free: +0800359863), . 8AM-8PM. Tandem Paragliding Flights over Nelson and the scenery of the Tasman Bay. Paragliding Training lessons.
- Nelson Wineries , visit and taste 23 wineries located around the district
- Nelson Walkways , over 22 walks around and in the surrounding district.
- Visit the Nelson Market. It operates all year round in the Montgomery Square carpark in the centre of Nelson on Saturday mornings from 8AM-1PM. Stalls overflow with local products - fresh organic vegetables, fruit and flowers, locally farmed organic salmon and many kinds of crafts including silk painting, jewellery, pottery, weaving and wood turning. There are also food stalls and many Nelsonians meet for a late leisurely breakfast at one of the many coffee stalls.
- Spend a few hours or several days in Abel Tasman National Park .
- Take part in one of the Creative Tourism workshops : Art, Taste, Maori Culture or Nature.
- Skydive Abel Tasman : this is one of the best places in the world to sky dive because the jump is on the border of the Alps and Abel Tasman. When you jump, you soar over snow capped mountains, and then hover over a marshy beach. It's so pristine and unique.
A variety of goods and produce are available at the Nelson Saturday Market . Don't sleep in too late as the market is usually over by 2PM.
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!
For the best Fish and Chips within 10,000 miles (according to the Wikimapia  author, click the highlighted link to see the exact location right next to Guytons Fisheries Ltd on Wakefield Quay ...)
- Akbabas Turkish Kebab House (130 Bridge St, Tel 03 548-8825) is one of Nelsons most popular take-away restaurants. They offer wicked veggie and meat kebabs that come wrapped in flat tortilla-like bread. $7-12.
- The Beach Cafe and Bar, Tahunanui Reserve, Tahuna, ☎ 03-546-4617, . every day. Reviewed in the Sunday Star Times as the place to go - enjoy this all year round beach location with finest homemade food and drink on offer. Always the warmest of welcomes. Best coffee [see New Zealnd Coffee Guide]and right on the beach. Kids friendly. Highchairs. Parking. Zoo. Tennis and Parklands. $8 plus.
- Gianni Pizza, 24 Alton S (just off Nile St), ☎ 548 8884. Delicious, authentic Italian vegetarian pizzas, and friendly service. Tiny (cosy) sit-in area, or takeaway.
- The Hot Rock Gourmet Pizza Pasta Bar  (8-10 Tahunanui Dr, Tel 03 546-4421) By the beach this award winning restaurant serves the region's only wood-fired gourmet pizza as well as delicious pasta, healthy salads, hearty ribs, mussels and wicked desserts. Casual and friendly - a must visit in Nelson. $15.50+.
- My Pie  (Rutherford Mews, Off Hardy Street) crafts gourmet meat pies that put plastic wrapped mass-produced pies to shame. If you have trouble finding their kitchen off Hardy you can find My Pie at the Nelson Saturday Market where they run a cart. $5.
- Sticky Fingerz (135 Bridge St) opens late (after ~10PM) and stays open until the bars close. They offer fried chicken and chips and the hamburgers that are worth the price. $5-10.
Many bars are located in the Central Business District on Bridge Street between Collingwood and Trafalgar Streets:
- The Free House, 95 Collingwood St (Opposite the Indian cafe), . is a fine pub that serves brews from mostly local micro breweries (Mussel Inn, Moa, Founders, Twisted Hop, Emersons etc.) The beer menu changes regularly. Wine, soft drinks and light food also available.
- The Oyster Bar (115 Hardy St) has fancy drinks and a small menu of seafood items. Fresh oysters are available most of the time while the bar is open Th-Su.
- Phat Club  (137 Bridge St) generally has a cover charge which is enough to deter most tourists. This venue has the widest range of music including everything from jazz to hip hop to punk rock to house to electro to jungle to metal to....
- The Shark Club  (132-136 Bridge St) has heaps of American pool tables and billiard tables. Music is generally from the jukebox but DJs are invited to spin on occasion.
- Stingray  (8 Church St.) has dance music and two bars. Until 3AM.
Nelson offers an excellent range of quality accommodation including Backpackers, Bed and Breakfasts (B&B's), Holiday Homes, Hotels, Lodges, Resorts, Serviced Apartments and Motels.
- Accents on the Park, 335 Trafalgar Square, ☎ +64 3 548 4335. checkin: 14:30; checkout: 10:00. Beautifully decorated, clean, safe and friendly hostel, with one of the best locations in the city of Nelson. Internet, lounge, kitchen, laundry, helpful staff and an adjoining bar that makes fantastic burgers. $27 - $33 per person, shared.
- YHA Nelson Central, 59 Rutherford Street, ☎ +64 3 545 9988, . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 10:00. In the heart of the city this 5 star hostel is ideally situated for exploring the city of Nelson and the surrounding area. The friendly and helpful staff can assist with anything from advising on local shops, cafes and restaurants to activities and tours. This Hostel has excellent kitchen facilities with all you could need, as well as large dining and relaxing areas. The garden is great for summer BBQ’s and relaxing in the afternoon. They offer a selection of accommodation from shared rooms to double en-suite's. Great for people travelling on a budget. Dorm Bed $34, Double en suite Room from $98 $27 -$99.
B & B's
- AMBER HOUSE - at the centre!™, 46 Weka Street (When entering the city of Nelson from the SH6 roundabout, turn first right opposite Rugby Ground and then Wainui St becomes Weka St after 300m), ☎ +64 3 539 0605, Mobile:+64 21 202 4961 ([email protected], fax: +44 7005 963437 (fax server in Northern Ireland), . checkin: by arrangement, usually after 14:00; checkout: usually before 10:35. Open all year, clean Bed and Breakfast in a lovely 1897 Villa that used to be a School for Girls and little boys. Traditional Rose Garden with the oldest walnut tree in the South Island hidden away at the back of the plot. One of the few that still offers a full cooked breakfast. Full board and rooms service available. Now has satellite HD TV, WiFi, double glazing and air-conditioning. Bedrooms have en-suite showers. Quiet fringe of CBD location. Smoking or Smokers not allowed(!) $79 single, $89 double (party of 4 from $37) The Amber family first came to Nelson in 1842 but can understand some French, Fukien Chinese, German, Malay and Spanish. $79 - $249.
- Retiro Park Lodge, 152 Teal Valley, RD1 Nelson 7071 (Coming From Nelson City: Take SH6 direction Blenheim. When you arrive in Hira (13km from Nelson), pass the school (on your right hand side) and then take the second turn off the main road (approx 1.5 Km from the school) on the right side (Teal Valley). Retiro Park Lodge is 1.5 Km from the main road. Coming From Blenheim Towards Nelson on SH6: At the bottom of the Whangamoa Saddle after you cross the Teal River Bridge, turn left sharply into Teal Valley. Retiro Park Lodge is 1.5 Km up the road. If you miss the turn off and you arrive in Hira you’ve passed the junction. Turn back at the petrol station and take the second turn off the main road to the right into Teal Valley.), ☎ +64 3 545 0118 ([email protected]), . checkin: 14:30; checkout: 10:00. Exclusive B&B set in a park on a 70 acre property 17km from Nelson CBD and has its own vineyard, olive and almond groves and a swimming pool. Dinners, featuring the best of the local Nelson and New Zealand’s seasonal produce and wines, are made by arrangement. Smokers welcome. Hosts speak native French and Spanish. $235 -$345.
- Meadowbank Homestead - Awaroa, Postal address ''only'': PO Box 351, Motueka 7143, New Zealand ("Wilsons’), ☎ +64 3 528 2027, Freephone (New Zealand Only): 0800 223 582 (0800 ABEL TASMAN), Freephone (Australia Only): 1800-139 341 ([email protected]), . checkin: 14:30; checkout: 10:00. Awaroa or Torrent Bay Lodge are both on the beach frontage in Abel Tasman National Park. Hosted by the Wilson family, direct descendants of the first European settlers to the area. All rooms twin/double with en suite bathroom; all bedding and towels provided; drying room; central heating and open fire for winter comforts. Meals are freshly prepared by your Hosts at the Lodge and there is a bar serving hand-picked local specialities. $935 - $2035 includes all transfers into the National Park..
- Aqua Vista Accommodation  A selection of apartments, villas & cottages all in Nelson's waterfront area. Managed by James & Richard of Te Puna Wai Lodge. Ph +6435487621, Txt +6421679795, E [email protected]
- Awaroa Lodge & Cafe  is a beautiful lodge inside the Abel Tasman National Park. It offers amazing food in a very beautiful place, accessible via the Abel Tasman NP track system, or by water taxi from Nelson or Takaka. [There is also now a cheaper summer time service direct from Nelson Port (Freephone 0508 488 066). The previous service went bust so might be a good idea to ring first.]
- Blackwoods Retreat , a fantastic place to kick back in a private cottage in the countryside, relax and enjoy getting away from it all without getting too far away! Something for everyone and more, short and long-term bookings taken.
- Harbourside Motor Lodge , in Nelson Port with marina views from most of the units. Continental or cooked breakfast available. Close to restaurants, cafes, galleries, shopping.
- Haulashore Views - Port Hills Holiday Home , Stunning sea views from one of Nelson City's finest locations. A comfortable and modern home offering peace, space and true convenience with all the comforts of home. A short stroll from the waterfronts award winning restaurant-cafes and less than 5 min. drive to the City centre or Tahunanui Beach. Both short and long term enquiries welcomed. Up to 8 guests. +64-4-899-0548.
- Maitai Camp & Cabins , 7 km (4 mi) up the Maitai river valley. Cabins, camp sites and a bunk house are available for accommodation. The camp is only accessible via a foot bridge and the whole site is surrounded by the Maitai river. An industrial kitchen and a huge hall with a small stage and a competition size billiard table is available for group gatherings.
- Rutherford Hotel Nelson , +64 3 548 2299, [email protected], Trafalgar Square. Four star plus hotel with suites available. Oceano Restaurant, Miyazu Japanese Restaurant and The Rutherford Cafe on-site.
- Te Puna Wai Lodge  has a gob-smacking island, sea, bay & mountain view & a solid reputation for providing a unique, high-quality experience. The house is an intricately detailed (on the outside, pleasantly simple inside), 3-floor, mid-Victorian wooden villa: the combination - of view & house - led to the property being included in National Business Review magazine's inaugural list of NZ's Top 100 Houses. Having only three rooms (including 1 apartment with kitchen) means you get a personalized experience from hosts - Richard and James - who are sensitive to their guest's desires for attention or solitude. All rooms have antique furnishings, en suite marble-tiled bathrooms and tea/coffee/fridge. Other guest areas include a comfortable lounge, boat-deck-like veranda & verdant terrace-garden. Beverages & full breakfasts are provided. Te Puna Wai's guests play an essential role in keeping this very special part of NZ's heritage alive & humming. Ph +6435487621, Txt +6421679795, E [email protected]
- Trailways Hotel Nelson ([email protected]), 66 Trafalgar St (Down town on the river), ☎ 035487049, . checkin: 1PM; checkout: 10AM. Central located down town on the River, a minutes walk from the visitor information centre. 47 air conditioned rooms, award winning restaurant and bar
- Nelson is close (110 min drive, 50 min by fast boat) to the Abel Tasman National Park  which offers sea kayaking  and the 51 km Abel Tasman Coast Track  (one of NZ's Great Walks ). Also see Tramping in New Zealand.
- Visit the district museums in Collingwood, Motueka, Takaka and Murchison.
- There is a terrific new Museum on the corner of Trafalgar and Hardy Streets that offers free admission to locals and by donation to outsiders that is open 7 days a week until 5PM. (Closed 25 Dec).
- Go swimming in the river up the Maitai Valley or Lee River Valley! You can hitch hike up there if you don't have a car. Bring a sandwich and some water.