Nelson Travel Guide
Introduction to Nelson
After riding the Interislander ferry from Wellington on the North Island, you’ll arrive in the city of Nelson on the South Island. It is also known as the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, situated 60 kilometres to the northwest.
However, Nelson itself has more than its share of attractions that will be of interest to travellers. From a museum which shows off gaudy costumes to a fantastic beach you won’t want to leave, there is plenty to occupy visitors here for at least a couple days.
Cultural Attractions in Nelson
Connect with the creative community in Nelson by discovering the Suter Art Gallery. Within its walls, you’ll find paintings dating back 200 years made by local, New Zealand, and international artists.
Additionally, its exhibition hall brings in photography, drawings, and ceramic art in addition to paintings from other museums and the theatre regularly hosts stage shows. After taking it all in, visit its on-site cafe, as it will give you a chance to linger over a flat white while contemplating the works you just witnessed.
Find yourself in Nelson on a Saturday? Spend a couple hours at the Nelson Market. This once-weekly gathering brings together local farmers, artisans, and small businesspeople in a space which has become a cornerstone of the community over numerous generations.
Here, you’ll find plenty of organic fresh produce, arts and crafts, products made with merino wool, handmade children’s toys, cooked to order food (don’t miss the German sausage or the whitebait fritters), and so much more. If you want to get the pulse of this small city, don’t miss this attraction.
Looking for a kooky attraction that will make Nelson stand out in your mind? The World of Wearable Art & Classic Cars Museum is that place. While its collection of antique cars is outstanding in its own right, its elaborate costumes section is nothing short of mind-blowing.
Termed as ‘wearable art’, the pieces you’ll find on display are on a whole other level compared to conventional items of clothing. Additionally, footage of this museum’s annual fashion show will keep fashionistas engaged while the gearheads in your travel party will be wowed by vehicles ranging from Model Ts to modern sports cars.
Other Attractions in Nelson
Love the outdoors? Check out the Centre of New Zealand. A walking trail granting excellent views of Nelson and the amazing nature that surrounds it, this track allegedly leads to the exact geographic centre of New Zealand.
The trail is a bit on the steep side, but so long as you take your time, you’ll eventually get to see a sweeping view of the city and Tasman Bay, and a (slightly) cheesy monument denoting the middle point of this country.
Green thumbs will want to take a stroll through Queen’s Gardens during their visit to Nelson. Located on the former site of a meat market (which closed in the 1880s), it was created to celebrate the 50th jubilee of Queen Victoria.
Within its bounds, the Chinese and rose gardens stand out as highlights, but most of the rest of this place shows off the Victorian style of gardening as it existed in the late 19th century. If you are looking for an awesome place to go for a picnic after picking up food from the Nelson Market, this is an excellent place to go.
Visiting during summer and want to chill out with the locals? Head straight to Tahunanui Beach. Fronting a shallow bay, it is a wonderful place to go if you are travelling as a family, as its waters are safe, and it is home to a skate park, a BMX track, bumper boats, and so much more.
There are plenty of activities to do as an adult as well. The winds that blow offshore make it an excellent place for kitesurfers to do their thing, and even if you aren’t into that, there are plenty of paddleboarders who also love this place.