New Zealand’s craft beer brewing capital
On the eastern shores of the Tasman Bay sits the South Island’s oldest settled city, Nelson. Set against a backdrop of alpine lakes, roaring rivers and wide coastlines, the city has long been a magnet for creatives, with more than 350 artists calling Nelson home. A Mediterranean climate and fertile countryside have inspired the artisan food producers and boutique wineries that dot the region’s rolling hills. And, as Port Nelson is the largest fishing port in Australasia, you’re sure to find fresh scallops, mussels and an array of other seafood on the menu.
In amongst all this gourmet goodness, Nelson has achieved special acclaim as the craft-brewing capital of New Zealand. More than a dozen locally owned breweries stretch from Founders Heritage Park to Onekaka in Golden Bay. Cheers!
Things to do
Art you can wear
Marvel at around 60 wearable art garments, many of which are award-winning creations, at the admirably multi-tasking World of Wearable Art Museum and Classic Cars opens in new window. The yearly World of Wearable Art event, now held in Wellington, was born in Nelson and its rich history lives on at this exhibition.
With more than 160 years of brewing across six generations, a trip to Founders Brewery opens in new window, situated in the beautiful Founders Heritage Park, is bound to be both delicious and historic. Grab a tasting tray to accompany your lunch as you relax beneath the hop vines.
National park trinity
Three of New Zealand’s diverse national parks are within a 90 minute drive of Nelson. Explore high country alpine wilderness at Nelson Lakes National Park opens in new window, hike the palm-fringed coastline of the Heaphy Track in Kahurangi National Park opens in new window or go sea kayaking in the stunning turquoise waters of Abel Tasman National Park opens in new window.
Take a walk
For an adventure in the heart of Nelson, take a walk along Nelson Boulder Bank opens in new window. This 8km track from Boulder Bank Drive to The Cut traverses a thin strip of land that was once a Maori fishing camp. Stop at the cast iron lighthouse for a glimpse of history that dates back to 1862.
To market, to market
Make like a local and spend a Saturday morning at the Nelson Saturday Market opens in new window. You’ll find everything from locally designed jewellery and clothing to delicious local produce. Pick up brunch or coffee and a pastry and browse to your heart's (and stomach's) content.
Distance to city centre 8km
Taxi A taxi to the city centre takes around 10 minutes and costs about NZD $30.
Shuttle A SuperShuttle opens in new window transfer costs from around NZD $20; book ahead.Back to top
When to go
Nelson is blessed with one of the highest average hours of sunshine in New Zealand. Summer (December–February) and autumn (March–May) are the best seasons to visit with the least rainfall, mild highs and comfortable lows. For travellers hoping to hit the slopes at the Rainbow Ski Area in Nelson Lakes National Park, the snow season opens between June and October, hitting its peak in August.
During the summer, Nelson hosts a range of festivals from the Nelson Busker’s Festival to the Sail Port Stephens Regatta. And for art lovers, nothing beats the yearly Nelson Arts Festival.Back to top