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Nelson New Zealand Tourism Information

Updated on December 2, 2017
Nelson Lakes National Park, South Island, New Zealand
Nelson Lakes National Park, South Island, New Zealand | Source

Geographically speaking the Nelson region lies in the centre of New Zealand. It occupies the northern part of the South Island and is known for its sunshine, fine beaches, lakes, mountains and lush native forests.

Out of the 14 National Parks in New Zealand, the Nelson Tasman region has three of them, all within 90 minutes of Nelson City:

  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Kahurangi National Park
  • Nelson Lakes National Park

Nelson City, New Zealand:
Nelson, New Zealand

get directions

Famed for its temperate climate and high sunshine hours, Nelson region can be explored year round by land, sea and air.

How to Reach Nelson City

There are two exciting ways to get to Nelson. One is to fly across from Wellington City or any other major city in New Zealand. Soundsair have daily return flights from Wellington and it is a 40-minute flight to Nelson.

Another option is to go to Picton by taking the Interislander Ferry across the Cook Strait which is one of the most spectacular cruises in the world. With 92 km of breathtaking views, the 3 hour long journey is a trip to be remembered. Once you have reached Picton, it is 113 km to Nelson taking one and a half hour by road.

Nelson Region Highlights

Nelson is a city bordered by sea, rugged lush green valleys and a fertile hinterland of pastures and orchards. Nelson City itself has a lot to offer the seasoned traveler such as:

  • trekking in pristine rainforest
  • skydiving
  • four wheel drive trips
  • whitewater rafting
  • wine trails
  • gourmet cuisine
  • boating
  • yacht racing
  • sea kayaking

Art lovers will find a variety of works by local painters, potters, glass blowers, jewellers and other craftspeople. Their work can be seen and purchased at the many studios in Nelson city and around the region. The Suter The Arotai o Whakatu, founded in 1898 is one of New Zealand's longest established art galleries housing a collection of nationally significant art works.

WOW® – World of WearableArt™ and Classic Cars Museum

As the website of the World of WearableArt™ and Classic Cars Museum states:

The World of WearableArt™ and Classic Cars Museum is an iconic ‘must see’ Nelson NZ visitor attraction that celebrates two distinctly different passions. A world class collection of classic cars can be viewed alongside incredible wearable works of art from all around the globe

This museum has a world class display of some of the most sought after models in Classic motoring such as a

  • 1908 Renault AX
  • BMW 2002 1971
  • Buick 1938
  • Cadillac Coupe de Ville 1959
  • Chevrolet Phaeton 1929
  • Jaguar XJS HE 1984

Water Taxi in Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand.
Water Taxi in Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand. | Source

Adventure Activities in the Nelson Region

In the Nelson Region will also discover mountains dotted with alpine lakes and spectacular national parks like the Abel Tasman National Park, Kahurangi National Park and Nelson Lakes National Park. This region offers many activities for the adventurous at heart:

Cable Bay (20 minutes)

It is a pleasant drive from Nelson to Cable Bay, an emerging recreational and tourism destination. Accommodation options include home stays and a small campground. There is a lot to do all the year round such as:

  • Sea Kayaking and snorkeling in the pristine waters of the newest Marine Reserve.
  • Hiking the Cable Bay walkway
  • Rock climbing
  • Swimming in the sea.
  • Four wheel eco bike rides in the 1600 acre farm with native forests of Happy Valley Adventures.
  • Skywire ride – the world's first Skywire ride, New Zealand's longest flying fox over native forest.

'Abel Tasman Village' – Marahau (1-hour drive)

Marahau is the closest road access point to the Abel Tasman from Nelson. Many choose to have their base or starting point to enjoy the activities at the Abel Tasman National Park such as:

  • Water Taxis
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Horse Riding
  • Camping

Marahau also provides caravan parks, backpackers, bed and breakfast and chalet styles of accommodation, all the year round (freedom camping is not permitted).

Golden Bay (1 hr 50 Minutes from Nelson to Takaka)

Golden Bay is the place to experience the tranquillity and hidden secrets among the caves formed by water over millions of years. Here you will discover the incredible rock formations at wild Wharariki Beach that can be reached by foot or horseback.

Takaka is the main town in Golden Bay with many restaurants, bistros, cafes and takeaways. Painters, potters, silversmiths and weavers are some of the artists who have been drawn to its creative ambiance.

The rushing glass-clear water of what is commonly known as the Pupu Springs, have made headlines as the clearest, freshest waters in the world.

There are several other interesting places in the Nelson Region and it deserves several visits to explore it fully. Famed for its temperate climate and high sunshine hours, Nelson region can be explored year round by land, sea and air.

Cable Bay beach in the Nelson Region. Pepin Island in the background.
Cable Bay beach in the Nelson Region. Pepin Island in the background. | Source

Wine Connoisseur's Paradise

Nelson is also renowned for its exquisite wines and consistently wins more awards than the other regions in New Zealand.

The region is reputed for its aromatic varieties – Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer. It also produces a distinctive Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and some superb 'stickies'. Nelson wines are sold around the world and it is an amazing experience to visit the places where they were created. Here you will find boutique, family run wineries crafting exquisite wines, art exhibitions, luxurious vineyard accommodation and breathtaking views.

The Gorge Explorer Steam Train Video
The Gorge Explorer Steam Train Video | Source


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    • Sushma Webber profile imageAUTHOR

      Sushma Webber 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks Dobo700, hope you can make it to Nelson soon. After doing the research for the article I am inspired to visit Nelson and the national parks. I live just across the ditch as they say here, in Wellington.

    • dobo700 profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      Nice Hub,

      I was born in Nelson, but haven't been back in a few years. Would love to get back next year to see some of the family.

      I would have to say it is one of the nicest places on the south island.

    • teacherjoe52 profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi Sushma Webber

      Very informative article.

      I would love to hike in the mountains on the southern island. Just as long as those naughty parrots keep away from the campsite ha ha


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