A locals guide: Nelson Tasman's best brunch spots

A locals guide: Nelson Tasman's best brunch spots

Written by Laura Duquemin

Posted on Wednesday 3 June 2020

For some reason, the combination of breakfast and lunch is a classic illustration of the 'better together' concept, igniting excitement in the lucky recipients of brunch invitations. But the topic of brunch is also hotly contested, and it seems everyone has their own idea of what the word 'brunch' really means. 

In my quest to discover the best brunch spots around Nelson Tasman, i've heard it all. To me, brunch is a meal eaten between 10am-12pm, and it must be cooked. If i'm having cereal for brunch, it isn't brunch - it's breakfast. Friends challenged me with their own definitions; that breakfast at any time of the day is called brunch, that the window of time is in fact much smaller, that it only counts as brunch on weekends or that only big breakfasts can be classified as brunch. It seems that brunch is a touchy subject, and I gave up on getting to the bottom of it when words such as brinner, lupper and dunch started being thrown around.

So, although we're not quite sure exactly what the word itself means, we asked some of our Nelson Tasman locals to share their favourite brunch spots from around the region.

Jellyfish Restaurant & Bar

"The Jellyfish hands down is the best brunch, mid morning and every other meal. Great food, great vibe and lovely scenery" -  Cherie Mckenzie

"We love Jellyfish, especially dining outside with the tide in. It is so peaceful and what a view" - Karen James

The Jellyfish Restaurant & Bar on Mapua Wharf has it all - a stunning location, great service and exceptional food. Locals rave about this dining destination by the sea, and once you've visited, you'll soon see why. The alfresco area overlooks the jetty, where you can watch excited kids wharf-jumping, cyclists crossing on the ferry and shopping enthusiasts browsing the cool-store galleries.

Jellyfish 45 credit JellyfishPhoto: Jellyfish Restaurant & Bar

East St Cafe & Bar

"Unbelievably good plant based food and a vibrant, modern atmosphere. (Toy dinosaurs as table numbers? Yes please!)" - Laura Bruce

Waffles, turmeric crepes and mushrooms on toast - you're spoilt for choice when it comes to hearty, vegan brunch options at East St Cafe & Bar. Their food packs a whole lot of flavour, and the atmosphere is pretty great too! East St is yet another Nelson Tasman gem nestled down a side street in the city centre.

52008370 2278032942215429 5423991649816543232 oPhoto: East St Cafe & Bar

The Boat Shed

"Always enjoy great food with a spectacular view on the deck out back over the water" - Vikki Challies

"For brunch, there’s nothing better than The Boathouse’s delicious Scrambled Eggs with Mushrooms" - Tina Hamilton

The Boat Shed is somewhat of a Nelson Tasman institution, a favourite for locals since way way back. This seaside cafe overlooks the calm waters of Tasman Bay, so if you're looking for brunch with a view you'll find what you're looking for here. Savour the taste of fresh, simple ingredients as you enjoy the views of Fifeshire Rock, Haulashore Island and The Boulder Bank.

Seaside Dining Nelson Web Res taken by Oliver Weber credit www2.nelsontasman.nzPhoto: www.nelsontasman.nz

Bobby Franks Cafe

"Great staff, fantastic location, always amazing food" - Gina Fletcher

Bobby Franks is located just a short stroll from the city centre, and is the place that all the locals are talking about. Taking classic kiwi favourites and adding their own unique spin, the cafe serves up delicious brunch options including chilli feta scrambles and chorizo egg rolls. 

69342504 417043095594317 6955154766515142656 oPhoto: Bobby Franks Cafe


"Great spot with lovely food, coffee and gorgeous outdoor courtyard seating. Very child friendly." - Sally Florance

"Hands down amazing brunch spot! Always meet up with old friends coming back home to Nelson when i'm there" - Lisa Rule

Located down a quaint side street in Nelson's CBD, Deville is somewhat of a hidden gem, but once you've had a taste we guarantee you'll keep returning for more. Entering through the wrought iron fence, you'll discover a gorgeous alfresco area where you can relax amongst the greenery, away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.


"The food and coffee is great. The staff are so friendly and helpful plus you can sit outside with cuddly blankets to keep warm" - Anete Smith

Alberta's is located on the Mapua Wharf and serves up a tasty brunch menu using local ingredients (even their coffee is roasted right next door). An endless array of cabinet options are sure to satisfy your tastebuds, but if not they also have a smoothie bar on-site. 

Mapua Wharf Couple Web Res taken by Oliver Weber credit www.nelsontasman.nzPhoto: www.nelsontasman.nz

The Courthouse Cafe

"Delicious food, great coffee and awesome service with a smile. Can't wait to go back soon!" - Emily Parker

The Courthouse Cafe in Collingwood was originally built in 1901, and was used as a Courthouse until the 1930's. Today you'll find a historic building that oozes character, serving up a delicious selection of food and beverages. Dogs are welcome, and they even have their own friendly pup that wanders around the property!

NRDA Golden Bay 17Photo: www.nelsontasman.nz

The Beach Cafe

"Great for a cafe experience with a playground for the kids, followed by a stroll along the beach" - Carol Brannen

Located just a short stroll across the sand behind Tahunanui Beach, the Beach Cafe is the perfect destination for brunch at the beach. With a playground visible from the indoor and outdoor seating areas, you can kick back and relax with some french toast or pancakes whilst the kids play happily amongst themselves. 

The River Kitchen

"The cabinet food at The River Kitchen is so yummy, especially the scones and filled crossaints. The buttermilk fried chicken waffles are also a good choice!" - Laura

An easy stroll on your lunch break, or a place to indulge in some beautiful scenery, the River Kitchen is the epitome of city living meets seaside dining. Located on the banks of the Maitai River, the atmosphere of this brunch spot buzzes as cyclists, walkers and paddle-boarders enjoy the outdoors. 

River Kitchen Dining taken by Oliver Weber credit www.nelsontasman.nzPhoto: www.nelsontasman.nz