Nelson travel guide

Nelson Tourism | Nelson Guide

You're Going to Love Nelson

The city of Nelson on New Zealand's South Island is known for its many scenic parks and beaches, as well as providing many shopping and entertainment options for tourists.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Nelson

1. Tahunanui Beach

This beach on Tasman Bay is a popular swimming destination and is considered one of the best beaches in New Zealand.

2. Visit Natureland Wildlife Trust

This zoo contains interactive exhibits of both local and non-local animals with an emphasis on wildlife conservation.

3. Witness Wearable Masterpieces

The National WOW Museum and Nelson Classic Cars Museum showcases fashion made from all kinds of materials and is the continuation of a popular London exhibition.

4. The View from the Top

Adventure seekers can sky dive with the Skydive Abel Tasman team over snowy mountains and marshland beach for one of the best aerial views in the world.

5. Founders Park

This park contains several museums and historical monuments, as well as an organic brewery and cafe for visitors.

What to do in Nelson

1. Sun Seeker's Dream

These are the most popular and frequented beaches in Nelson. They're great for swimming and lazing around on a beautiful day, but perfect for the outdoorsy traveler who loves activities. You can go windsurfing or cycling or join the many walkers and joggers who frequent the waterside. If none of these are your thing, it's incredibly picturesque, so well worth a visit just to take a few snaps.

2. No Need To Even Leave New Zealand

It's no secret that every geographical area of the world has its own climate that produces unique flora. Some of us never get the chance to see such wonders. Gardens of the World, however, brings these different climates together in one place and gives you the opportunity to tour six acres of unique plant species from all of the continents. This botanical treasure trove also focuses on the way people from around the world garden. Who knows, maybe you'll pick up a few tips to take home with you.

3. A Combination Sure To Inspire

There are some things in the world you wouldn't mix: pop rocks and soda or orange juice in milk. Wearable art combined with classic cars? Seems like a strange combination, but this museum in Nelson takes something odd and turns it into a unique and fascinating big tourism draw. We've all seen some of items that are featured on runways the world over - take that and multiply it by 10 and you get the World of Wearable Art. This museum also features a huge selection of awesome cars from various eras, with the main exhibit, "100 Years of Motoring".

4. No, Really

Named because it was the central survey point in the 1800s, this stunning walk will provide you with panoramic views of the city as well as the Tasman Bay. The walk is relatively easy and if the views aren't enough, it will also take you past the location where the first rugby game in New Zealand's history was played. It takes approximately one hour, but with lots of green space and lovely views, you could easily spend much longer.

5. Nelson's Secret Village

This cute, replicated historical town will take you back to when things were simpler. Pop into the old-school bakery for some delicious pastries or check out some of the locally-made traditional crafts and jewelry for sale. Some of the buildings are original from the time period and others are simply historical replicas, but they both give a sense of what time was like in the early days of Nelson. There's a museum, and the Nelson Railway Society also runs a short heritage railway line, an exciting attraction for train buffs.

1. Sun Seeker's Dream

These are the most popular and frequented beaches in Nelson. They're great for swimming and lazing around on a beautiful day, but perfect for the outdoorsy traveler who loves activities. You can go windsurfing or cycling or join the many walkers and joggers who frequent the waterside. If none of these are your thing, it's incredibly picturesque, so well worth a visit just to take a few snaps.

2. No Need To Even Leave New Zealand

It's no secret that every geographical area of the world has its own climate that produces unique flora. Some of us never get the chance to see such wonders. Gardens of the World, however, brings these different climates together in one place and gives you the opportunity to tour six acres of unique plant species from all of the continents. This botanical treasure trove also focuses on the way people from around the world garden. Who knows, maybe you'll pick up a few tips to take home with you.

3. A Combination Sure To Inspire

There are some things in the world you wouldn't mix: pop rocks and soda or orange juice in milk. Wearable art combined with classic cars? Seems like a strange combination, but this museum in Nelson takes something odd and turns it into a unique and fascinating big tourism draw. We've all seen some of items that are featured on runways the world over - take that and multiply it by 10 and you get the World of Wearable Art. This museum also features a huge selection of awesome cars from various eras, with the main exhibit, "100 Years of Motoring".

4. No, Really

Named because it was the central survey point in the 1800s, this stunning walk will provide you with panoramic views of the city as well as the Tasman Bay. The walk is relatively easy and if the views aren't enough, it will also take you past the location where the first rugby game in New Zealand's history was played. It takes approximately one hour, but with lots of green space and lovely views, you could easily spend much longer.

5. Nelson's Secret Village

This cute, replicated historical town will take you back to when things were simpler. Pop into the old-school bakery for some delicious pastries or check out some of the locally-made traditional crafts and jewelry for sale. Some of the buildings are original from the time period and others are simply historical replicas, but they both give a sense of what time was like in the early days of Nelson. There's a museum, and the Nelson Railway Society also runs a short heritage railway line, an exciting attraction for train buffs.

Where to Eat in Nelson

The Beach Cafe and Bar is a popular spot to dine one some fresh homemade food right along the beach. Meal prices average out to NZ$10-12 per person.

When to visit Nelson

Nelson in October
Estimated hotel price
$106
1 night at 3-star hotel
Nelson in October
Estimated hotel price
$106
1 night at 3-star hotel

September to November is the best time to visit New Zealand as it experiences its spring season and the nearby scenery is more accessible for visitors to explore.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Nelson

Plane

Nelson Airport (NSN) is located 4.9 miles outside of the city center and offers domestic connections from Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. Travelers can then connect by shuttle bus, taxi, or private car to Nelson.

Train

The closest train stop to Nelson is in nearby Wellington. A one-way ticket from Auckland to Wellington costs NZ$200, after which you must transfer by bus to reach Nelson.

Car

From Christchurch, use State Highways 6 and 7 to reach Nelson in a 5.5 hour journey.

Bus

Naked Bus and InterCity offer daily connections to other New Zealand destinations for as little as NZ$5.

Airports near Nelson

Airlines serving Nelson

United Airlines
Good (2,648 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,119 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,185 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,173 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (1,044 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (766 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (243 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (227 reviews)
Finnair
Good (591 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (2,306 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (720 reviews)
ANA
Excellent (116 reviews)
Thai Airways
Good (41 reviews)
Qantas Airways
Good (131 reviews)
Asiana Airlines
Excellent (70 reviews)
EVA Air
Excellent (76 reviews)
Virgin Atlantic
Good (285 reviews)
Air New Zealand
Excellent (42 reviews)
Jetstar
Good (71 reviews)
Fiji Airways
Good (18 reviews)
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Where to stay in Nelson

Richmond - this nearby neighborhood is home to the Richmond Mall, several wineries, and white sand beaches.

Popular Neighborhoods in Nelson

St Arnaud - this region has several alpine lakes and rivers and is popular for outdoor sports activities.

Abel Tasman National Park - this protected area features some of the most beautiful nature on the South Island, with many hikes, waterfalls, and wildlife.

Where to stay in popular areas of Nelson

Most booked hotels in Nelson

Harbourside Lodge
Excellent (8.6, Excellent reviews)
$161+
Parautane Lodge
Excellent (8.7, Excellent reviews)
$252+
Cambria House
Excellent (9.3, Excellent reviews)
$220+
Shelbourne Villa
Excellent (10, Excellent reviews)
$234+
Ambleside Luxury Bed & Breakfast
Poor (0, Poor reviews)
$177+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Nelson

Public Transportation

The city bus service offers four routes: Toitoi/Hospital, Atawhai, Brook/Maitai, and Washington Valley/Port Hills. A single ride ticket costs NZ$3.50.

Taxi

Taxi rates start at NZ$2.75 and cost around NZ$15 for a trip between destinations in the city center.

Car

AVIS, Hertz, Budget, Europcar, and Thrifty offer daily rental cars starting at NZ$30.

The Cost of Living in Nelson

Shopping Streets

Nelson Market on Montgomery Square offers a farmers market where you can pick up fresh local produce and browse handicraft stall fronts. Richmond Mall is the main traditional shopping mall with international brands and multiple indoor store fronts.

Groceries and Other

New World and FreshChoice are the two biggest supermarkets. A dozen eggs costs NZ$4.

Cheap meal
$31.58
A pair of jeans
$141.79
Single public transport ticket
$4.12
Cappuccino
$5.69