Indulgence comes a little too easily in the quaint seaside town of Nelson. With fresh seafood rolling in daily and the famous Marlborough wine region a stone’s throw away, it feels almost impossible to resist the beckons of Nelson’s guilty pleasures. So why bother trying? Food and wine are far from the only enjoyments of the South Island’s oldest city. There’s also a rich history to discover, a wealth of charming galleries and museums to explore, and an unmistakable character that’s hard not to love. Add friendly locals and great weather to the mix and the chance of leaving on schedule is just about nil.

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Time Zone UTC+12
Area 445 km2
Currency New Zealand Dollar
Book Flights to Nelson Book now
Population 49,900
Holiday Packages to Nelson Book now
Languages English

Home to the largest fishing port in Australasia (Port Nelson), Nelson is a seafood lover’s paradise. For a quick fix of fish and chips (or ‘shark and tatties’ as the locals say), pay a visit to Haven Fish & Chips, right on the water in Stepneyville. Find a table by the dock and soak up the peaceful seaside atmosphere. If a more gourmet seafood experience sounds more appealing, there are three very strong candidates within 100 metres of each other on Wakefield Quay, near the Nelson Yacht Club. With the seafood hauled less than two kilometres away, it doesn’t get much fresher than this. When the inner sweet tooth starts to prod, lead him or her to salvation at Penguino Gelato Cafe in Montgomery Square. This local institution has won awards for its creative and downright unusual gelato flavours, such as lavender honey, white chocolate & rosemary, and (wait for it), smoked salmon & dill. The Nelson region is the only area of New Zealand where hops are grown. The result is a high concentration of craft breweries, such as Founders, McCashin’s, Bays and Dale’s, just to name a few. Rather than choosing just one or two, join a brewery tour and experience the whole lot (while leaving the driving to someone else).


Shopping in Nelson is made fantastically easy by the small and compact nature of the city, which allows shoppers to walk just about everywhere. There’s a great selection of fashion boutiques, art galleries, antique shops and specialty stores - all within close proximity of one another. One of the most popular things to do in Nelson is to visit the creators of the ring used in The Lord of the Rings movies - Jens Hansen Gold & Silversmith. The prototype of the ring is on display in the shop for visitors to admire; and a replica can be purchased if so desired. Lord of the Rings aside, this is one of the best jewellers in the world and a great place to get some custom-designed jewellery made. Market shoppers will love the Nelson Market, held in Montgomery Square every Saturday morning from 8am. On offer is fresh seasonal produce, locally made jams and mustards, handmade jewellery and woodware, local designer clothing, and an extensive range of art and pottery. Fuel up with a delicious coffee and prepare to be amazed by the quality of Nelson’s local produce and craftsmanship. If one morning of market shopping isn’t quite enough, turn up at the same place the next day for Monty's Sunday Market, which is more of a ‘trash and treasure’ type of shopping experience. Rummage through retro clothing, pre-loved books, antiques, collectibles and other weird and wonderful items. There are also some stalls selling new goods, as well as a few food and produce stalls for those who missed the Saturday market.