Nelson is in one of the most beautiful areas of New Zealand, situated at the top of the South Island on the shores of Tasman Bay. The city of Nelson was established in 1841, but the region was amongst the earliest areas settled by Maori. It is believed that Maori settlement of Nelson began about 700 years ago. In terms of European settlers, it’s the oldest settled city in the South Island and the second oldest in New Zealand. The early settlement of Nelson included a large group of German immigrants. Named after Admiral Horatio Nelson, the city’s streets follow the theme, with the main shopping area centred around Trafalgar Street.
Nelson has more than its share of picturesque scenery which, combined with the highest number of sunshine hours in New Zealand, makes it a popular place to live and visit. The landscape includes alpine lakes, rivers and sandy coastlines which offer a huge range of outdoor adventure activities including skiing, hiking and water sports. The Nelson region is surrounded by fabulous scenery including Farewell Spit which contains a bird sanctuary, a gannet colony and is an area of spectacular natural beauty. Nelson is also well known for its national parks, including Kahurangi National Park, Abel Tasman National Park and Nelson Lakes National Park. As well as being a treat for the eyes, these three national parks offer amazing opportunities for hiking, tramping, gliding, sky diving and water sports.
Many people vacation in Nelson for the world class fly fishing, kite surfing, mountain biking and white water thrills. Those who prefer a more relaxed holiday love the proliferation of art galleries and craft studios, craft breweries, award winning wineries, great accommodation and cafes. The city of Nelson and the next door town of Richmond have a combined population of 60,000 people who enjoy the city for its arts and crafts, wineries and gourmet food. The annual Nelson Arts Festival brings many visitors and the Wearable Art Awards began in Nelson. The World of Wearable Art Museum and Classic Cars Museum situated near Nelson airport showcases winning designs.
Families enjoy a visit to Happy Valley Adventures, a few minutes north of Nelson, where you can indulge in a variety of activities from the thrilling Skywire, guided quad bike tours, horse trekking, paintball and safari tours.
Nelson has so much to offer, that it’s a fabulous New Zealand destination in its own right, as well as being the perfect starting point for a tour of the South Island.