Our guide on what to do in Nelson
To help you decide your holiday itinerary – whether you are already here or planning a future trip – we’ve put together a guide on the top things to do in Nelson, New Zealand’s hub for all things arts and crafts! However Nelson is a multifaceted city which also offers gloriously golden beaches, a rich history as the country’s second-oldest settled city and a beautifully diverse landscape – what more do you need to choose Nelson as your next holiday destination?! Found at the top of the South Island, Nelson is the perfect getaway for those wanting a dose of culture, stunning nature and delicious local food.
See our top 8 things to do in Nelson or…
1. Explore the Abel Tasman National Park
If you are keen to get out and about in Nelson’s incredible natural landscapes you’ll be pleased to hear (or read) that a mere thirty-minute drive will bring you to the Abel Tasman National Park which boasts one of the Great Walks of New Zealand. More specifically, this short drive will take you to Kaiteriteri, which is where this Great Walk begins. With options of just a single day or multi-day adventure in the Park, the relatively flat coastal track makes it doable for nearly all ages and fitness levels. There are beautiful beaches to stop off at along the way and a visit to the Cleopatra Pools to glide down a natural rock slide is an absolute must. For those wishing for more intense physical activity here, you can always try your hand at sea kayaking or mountain biking.
2. Visit the World of Wearable Arts and Classic Car Museum
Those of you with a fascination with all things arty can soak up the rich art and culture scene found here, with a visit to the local art galleries and the World of WearableArt – iconic Nelson attraction. Found not too far from Nelson’s city centre, this Museum is ideal for arts and craft lovers as well as fashion lovers, with its amazing display of wearable artwork on display, along with a full retail store of New Zealand art and jewellery available for purchase. For those with a need for speed, the Classic Car portion offers Australasia’s largest private collection of rare and classic cars. It’s a perfect afternoon family outing or for couples who have opposite interests.
3. Spend an afternoon at the Founders Heritage Park
You can explore Nelson’s heritage and learn stories of the local people at Founders Heritage Park. With a range of businesses and artisans inside the character buildings, you’ll be treated to a collection of unique offerings that make Nelson culture so special. There is also an adorable train that will take you through the Park, with multiple opportunities to hop off and relax amongst the well-kept gardens, along with the option to check out the replica cargo plane on display. For those looking for some sophisticated tapirs thirst quenchers, McCashin’s Hop Garden offers sample craft beer tasting platters that have ridiculously generous pours (not that we’re complaining).
4. Visit the centre of New Zealand
One of the most popular things to do in Nelson is visiting the centre of New Zealand. This iconic landmark is atop a botanic hill that provides beautiful views of Nelson and the surrounding ocean. The trek to the top is around 45 minutes and there is also a wonderful kid’s playground at the bottom of the hill if you can’t convince the little ones to go for the steeper walk with you.
5. Enjoy the simple pleasures at Rabbit Island
If you’re wanting a quiet and peaceful afternoon, Rabbit Island is the perfect place to go. A quaint little island not far from Nelson, Rabbit Island offers cute antique shops to browse, a laid back atmosphere and the best place to enjoy a cuppa at Rabbit Island Coffee Co (which is best complemented with their yummy ginger loaf!). If you’re feeling more adventurous, the Great Taste Cycling Trail offers easy access to some of the most charming vineyards on the island.
6. Check out the world’s clearest lake
You’ll be blown away by how clear Blue Lake (also known as Rotomairewhenua) really is! One of many lakes in the Nelson Lakes National Park, the water is so clear that it’s considered sacred amongst the local Maori population. So while you can’t actually jump in this water (as tempting as it is), we promise it is still a worthwhile visit. Near the lake are also multiple walking trails if you’re keen to extend the adventure in the Park.
7. Hang out in Motueka
The small town of Motueka is super quirky and we 100% recommend checking it out! For those wanting a bit of an adventure, you can visit the Ngarua Caves, which takes you underground to some remarkable natural phenomenons! But if you’re wanting a more leisurely day, you’re best to settle in at the vibrant Toad Hall, which offers a delicious range of healthy brunch dishes, really big cuppas to enjoy by their fireplace and an organic general store with only local products.
8. Go nuts at Pic’s Peanut Butter Factory
Calling all peanut butter lovers! The Pic’s Peanut Butter Factory is a must see when in Nelson. You’ll get to take in the aroma of freshly roasted nuts, watch the peanuts squashed in action and be amazed at the assembly line for squirting the Pic’s into individual jars at rapid speed. There’s also an adorable shop to buy basically anything and everything related to Pic’s and a café to enjoy some yummy peanut butter dishes as well. Factory tours are free, but because people are nuts about this place, booking in advance is essential!
From the laid back beach town vibes to delicious peanut butter and coffee, it won’t take long to fall in love with Nelson. Check out our Nelson holiday homes now and start planning your next trip today!