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Nelson is the second oldest settled city in New Zealand and the oldest in the South Island. Nelson is in a region often known as Nelson Bays or the "Top of the South" and is actually slightly north of the capital city of Wellington. Nelson is the geographical centre of the nation and, together with Richmond, has a population of around 50,000 ranking it as New Zealand’s tenth most populous city. It's surrounded by three National Parks and is the smallest city in the world to have its own symphony orchestra. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Nelson
- 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.
- Elliott Street heritage precinct. To quote the most relevant website: "Elliott Street in Nelson is one of the earliest, and most complete examples, of state housing in New Zealand. The special heritage area includes homes that date from the 1860s through to the 1940s, spread over thirty four properties on Trafalgar, Elliott and Collingwood Streets. Within the precinct are well-preserved houses showing a progression of architectural design. Twenty three original houses of the twenty four-lot, Winearls Settlement for Workers Homes, still remain, and thirty one houses are listed heritage buildings."
- Founders Park. A collection of historic buildings that were re-located from sites in Nelson, many with interior mini-museums or historical displays. 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.
- Melrose House, 26 Brougham St, ☎ +64 3 548-9179, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Summer: daily 09:00-17:00, Winter: W-Su 09:00-17:00. Highly polished, native rimu floors, high ceilings and crystal chandeliers, this grand old Victorian lady hosts a cafe and is owned by Nelson City Council so you can rubber neck its classic features such as deeply moulded sash windows and fire surrounds as well as ornate balustrading on the timber staircase to your heart's content without paying an admission fee. A self-tour garden map details the extensive sheltered, private gardens surrounding the house, including its historic specimen trees. There's a great view past the Cathedral's tower to Tasman Bay if you're having a picnic on its sloping lawns.
- The Museum: Town Acre 445 (The Nelson Provincial Museum), 266 Hardy St (corner of Trafalgar and Hardy Streets), ☎ +64 3 548-9588, fax: +64 3 548-9589, e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa-Su & Public Holidays 10:00-16:30, closed Christmas Day. A terrific new museum utilising the very latest display technology. Free for Nelson residents, otherwise by koha/donation.
- WOW The World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars. A museum dedicated to the fashion show that was held in the 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. Free entry on Saturdays.
- 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.
- Rugby Union (Trafalgar Park). Home of the Tasman Makos that snatched victory in the ITM Cup championships on 25 Oct 2013 $10 and up, children 12 and under are Free.
- 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 reachable 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.
- Rodeo, A & P Showgrounds, Queen St, Richmond, ☎ +64 3 522-4667. Typically summer Saturdays 11:30-16:00. Events usually include Bareback, Saddle Bronc, Calf Roping, Barrel Race, Steer Wrestling, Bull Ride, Team Roping, Steer Ride and Calf Ride. This Nelson venue participates in the New Zealand Rodeo Cowboy Association circuit and regularly features cowboys and cowgirls from all over New Zealand together with Australia, Canada and the US. $15, 5-18yr $5, <5yr are free.
Nelson is named after the British Admiral, Lord Nelson.
It's a beautiful coastal city set amongst some of New Zealand's most stunning scenery. With over 2,500 hours of sunshine a year, Nelson is also usually New Zealand's sunniest city! 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.
The Nelson region covers five distinct geographic areas:
- The urban agglomeration of Nelson & Richmond
- The highways of Mapua, Motueka, Moutere, through rolling horticultural land
- The idyllic coastline of Abel Tasman National Park
- The heart of the parks, Golden Bay between Kahurangi and Abel Tasman national parks
- The alpine lakes and rivers around St Arnaud - Nelson Lakes & Murchison including Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi national parks
The Nelson economy is based on the ‘big four’ industries of seafood, horticulture, tourism and forestry. Port Nelson is the biggest fishing port in Australasia and there are also a range of growth industries, including arts and craft, aviation, engineering technology, and information technology.
Nelson is New Zealand's oldest city. (Although it was only 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, a full nine years before the good ship Charlotte-Jane arrived in Christchurch on 16 December 1850.)
Nelson is the city where, if asked, most Kiwis say they would like to move to and has a small but rapidly growing Māori population. per capita, Nelson also has the highest settled population of people from Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, the Philippines and the United Kingdom in New Zealand. There are also large concentrations of settled refugees from Bhutan and Burma, in the Victory Square and Wood areas, including the largest population of Kayan (Yan Pa Doung in Shan or "Padaung") outside of the Golden Triangle. The Kayan Lahwi (some of whose high status women used to wear brass neck coils) were treated as a sort of "human zoo" before they left South East Asia because of their long ("giraffe") necks. All this harmonious ethnic diversity means that the shops and Saturday morning market (in Montgomery Square) are a great place to buy foods and delicacies difficult to find elsewhere in New Zealand.
The Top of the South region's tourism organisation is Nelson Tasman Tourism, which operates i-SITE Visitor Information Centres in Nelson City, Takaka in Golden Bay and in Murchison.
- Fly a kite. Afternoons are best. The annual Kite Festival brings enthusiasts from all over the world to Neale Park because of its consistently steady northerly breezes that come from Tasman Bay. These are "Goldilocks" winds - not too fierce and not too slack. Fun for all ages and, once you've begged, borrowed or bought a kite, free of further charges! There are public toilets where you can also get drinking water. Ample free parking in North Road where there is also a children's playground with a flying fox, swings and climbing frame. Free.
- Cumulus Paragliding, 7 Tuffnell St, toll-free: 0800 359 863. Daily 08:00-20:00. Tandem Paragliding Flights over Nelson and the scenery of the Tasman Bay. Paragliding Training lessons.
- Take The Ferry ☎ +64 3 539-1116 or +64 21 634 608 with Bruce to Haulashore Island and back from Wakefield Quay. As well as the Styx bistro, the quay has the early settlers' memorial listing the first few years' worth of ships that arrived here 1841-1850, so there is plenty to keep you occupied if you just missed The Ferry sailing. This island was formed when The Cut was blasted through the Boulder Bank to make access to Nelson's Haven easier for shipping and has a small pond and stands of wilding pines. Worldwide, one of the better legacies of being colonised by the British was the provision of public parks and toilets and Haulashore Island maintains that cultural legacy by having a single, Unisex, DoC-type long drop toilet close by to where seals haul themselves ashore to sunbathe and relax. In New Zealand, it is a criminal offence to disturb or move any marine mammal and you should not approach too near as they can inflict a nasty bite. The foreshore is mostly rocky or with pebbles but there is a tiny sand beach where wind surfers and yachtsmen like to come ashore.
- 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 car park in the centre of Nelson on Saturday mornings from 08:00-13:00. 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.
- Take part in one of the Creative Tourism workshops: Art, Taste, Maori Culture or Nature.
- Skydive Abel Tasman. Nelson is one of the best places in the world to sky dive because the jump is on the border of the Southern Alps and Abel Tasman. When you jump, you soar over snow capped mountains, and then hover over a marvellous beach. It's so pristine and unique.
- Riverside Swimming Pool, Riverside Dr, ☎ +64 3 546-3221. Lane swimming M-F 06:00-09:30, 12:00-13:30, 17:00-19:00; Sa-Su 09:00-12:00. Public Swimming M-F 09:30-12:00, 13:30-17:00; Sa-Su 12:00-17:00.. Heated 30m main lane pool, toddlers' pool and spa pools with jets together with a gym and weights room. $4.80, 5-18yr $3, <5yr $2.
- Participate in a bone carving workshop, 87 Green Street (close to Nelson's Tahuna Beach), ☎ +64 3 546-4275. Design and create your own bone carving with guidance from an experienced bone carver. It takes about half a day and you end up with a polished product of your own creation. $79.
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, ☎ +64 3 548-8825 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, ☎ +64 3 546-4617. daily. Reviewed in the Sunday Star Times as the place to go - enjoy this all year round beach location with finest home-made food and drink on offer. Always the warmest of welcomes. Best coffee [see New Zealand 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), ☎ +64 3 548-8884. 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, ☎ +64 3 546-4421. 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 c. 22:00) and stays open until the bars close. They offer fried chicken and chips and the hamburgers that are worth the price. $5-10.
- The Styx, 272 Wakefield Quay, Stepneyville, ☎ +64 3 548-1075, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 10:30-late.
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.
- Founders Brewery, 87 Atawhai Drive, ☎ +64 3 548 4638. Six generations of family brewing history have culminated in this bar and café where you can watch the brewing process through the glass wall, while enjoying a meal or sampling their production
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), ☎ +64 3 548-3887. M-Th ~15:00-22:00, F ~15:00-23:00, Sa ~12:00-23:00, Su ~12:00-22:00. 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.
- Milton Street Sprig and Fern Tavern, 134 Milton St, The Wood (just round the corner from Amber House). Awarded New Zealand's 'Best Bar' in the 2012 Hospitality New Zealand Awards for Excellence after winning Nelson 'Bar of the Year' Although they don't do meals themselves, they have a sort of symbiotic relationship with the Takeaway right next door and will even supply cutlery to your table. No piped music - just good beer and conversation. Their unusual blackcurrant cider is a very pleasant tipple.
- Pheasant Plucker in the Bush Tavern, 87 Grove St, The Wood (down the road from the Organic Greengrocer), ☎ +64 3 548-1424. Su-Th 11:00-21:00, Fr Sa 11:00-22:00. Oldest in Nelson and possibly the South Island (1858); also does home style cooked meals
- 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.
- 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. Until 03:00. Has dance music and two bars.
- Hardy Street Sprig and Fern Tavern, 280 Hardy St. Is a pub in the old-fashioned sense. A place for serious beer drinkers, there are up to 16 types of beer on tap, from lager to stout. There are no televisions or pokies (gambling machines) and the music tends to come from the manager's mp3 player, making it a quiet place to go with friends.
- Nelson Saturday Market Not just fruit, vegetables and goat cheeses are on sale; the sheer variety of sculptures, artisan furniture, bone carvings, pottery and forged blades are a testimony to the concentration of artists and craftsmen that choose to live in this, the sunshine capital of New Zealand and come to to chat and sell their wares. Not to be missed, but don't sleep in too late as the market is usually over by 14:00. Montgomery Square.
- Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith, 320 Trafalgar Square, ☎ +64 3 548-0640, e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 09:00-17:00 (17:30 in summer), Sa 09:00-14:00, Su (summer only) 10:00-13:00; Closed Public Holidays. Makers of the "World's Most Famous Ring". Visit the workshop where the original "One Ring" prop for Peter Jackson's The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies was designed and created. This studio is well-known for producing beautiful, hand-finished jewellery that is uniquely crafted 'to-be-worn.'
- Organic Green Grocer. Nelson is famous for its fresh and tasty local produce and this rather "alternative" emporium showcases much of the best. Interesting and useful community noticeboards are inside and out and just opposite in Tasman Street, on the corner of Grove Street, are three of the oldest and smallest cottages in Nelson.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Nelson (New Zealand) on Wikivoyage.