1. Walk the Centre of New Zealand

Starting from the City Centre, an easy walk along the softly flowing Maitai River will take you across a blue-railed bridge to the base of the Botanical Reserve. A twenty-minute uphill trek under the canopy of poplar and kauri trees will land you at the Centre of New Zealand viewing platform, adorned with a large white pin that identifies the central trig point from the 1870’s. After capturing that perfect Instagram shot, take a breath of fresh air and enjoy the stunning views over the buzzing central city, Tasman Bay and the picturesque mountain ranges. As you part with this iconic landmark and start your descent back down the hill, why not select one of the alternate routes? The Branford Park trail will take you to a popular swimming hole known by locals as ‘Black Hole’, whilst continuing along the hillside will extend your scenic journey right through to Walters Bluff. Or, head back to the base and explore one of the magical gardens located close by; Queens, Miyazu or Japanese.

NCC Images Centre NZ3
Photo courtesy of Nelson City Council

2. Get a dose of adrenaline at Cable Bay Adventure Park

You’re guaranteed to have an extraordinary day out in Cable Bay, with stunning scenery and exhilaration galore! Test the limits of your comfort zone at Cable Bay Adventure Park, a thrill-seekers paradise with the vision to become the best adventure park in the world. Here you can traverse undulating muddy terrain and navigate sharp corners by quad bike, explore open farmland and native forest on horseback, battle it out with friends in paintball warfare, ride the rivers on board the amphibious Argo, whizz through the sky on the world’s longest flying fox or simply stay near the café and feed the tame eels. And if that doesn’t burn all your energy, a trek to the lookout on Sentinel Hill offers panoramic views over picturesque Cable Bay, which has a unique history as New Zealand’s first cable link to Australia in 1876 and as the fishing ground for Maori as far back as 1150AD.

Cable Bay Adv Park 360 10 credit George Guille4
Photo courtesy of Cable Bay Adventure Park and George Guille

3. Go on a cycling or mountain-biking adventure

One wouldn’t think, but within minutes of the city centre are cycle tracks that ascend high into the hilltops, a mountainbike park that rivals some of New Zealand's best, and trails that take you on a peaceful journey alongside a peacefully flowing river. For a leisurely ride, the Maitai Walkway will take you past a series of stunning sculptures and picturesque picnic spots, and if you’re lucky you may even catch a glimpse of the playful seal pups who love to roll around in the river. More experienced riders looking to navigate some thrilling downhill descents and rocky terrain may prefer a visit to the Dun Mountain Trail or Codgers Mountain Bike Park. The summit of New Zealand’s first railway line offers a rewarding view out over Nelson City and the stunning natural landscapes that surround it, and is well worth the uphill journey to get there.

Coppermine Dun trail Nelson
Photo courtesy of Nelson Regional Development Agency

4. Experience the history of Nelson City

Nelson is a historic city, and it is important to us to preserve and celebrate our unique heritage. Wander down the cobblestone paths of South Street, New Zealand’s oldest fully preserved street, and see some of the quaint cottages that were built for early Nelson settlers back in the 1860’s. Spend an afternoon exploring Founders Heritage Park, where you can browse gifts and souvenirs within the walls of a giant windmill, visit artisans in character buildings, ride the railway on a bright red train, explore the stunning gardens, sit in the cockpit of the Bristol Freighter Plane, and visit the replica fire brigade engine house. Top tip: The Provincial Museum in the central city also has an array of galleries, exhibitions and tours that showcase Nelson’s fascinating history and identity, and is well worth a visit.

Founders Heritage Park
Photos courtesy of Nelson Regional Development Agency

5. Spend the afternoon at Tahunanui Beach

From a childhood spent crafting sandcastles on the shore and splashing around in the shallows, to an adulthood spent strolling along the waters edge as the sun sets, the white sands and glistening waters of Tahunanui Beach are home to many memories, and form the basis of many family traditions. All year round, at this iconic beach situated just minutes from Nelson City, you’ll see paddleboarders circling Fifeshire Rock, groups of friends tossing a ball around on the sand, and happy children queuing up outside the Mr Whippy truck. Top tip: Allow a whole day when visiting Tahunanui - the Fun Park located just behind the beach has everything you need to keep you entertained for hours on end, with go karts, a trampoline park, roller skating, a hydroslide, bumper boats, mini golf, a model train, and even a zoo!

Tahunanui beach sunset
Photo courtesy of Nelson Regional Development Agency

6. Dine alfresco in stunning settings

Known as the sunshine capital of New Zealand, we really do mean it when we say you can enjoy the outdoors at all times of the year right here in Nelson Tasman. The waterfront along Rocks Road is home to a number of restaurants that are quite literally located on the water’s edge, so you can listen to the sound of the waves lapping the shore beneath you, whilst savouring the uninterrupted views of the mountainous ranges that lie behind Haulashore Island and Tasman Bay. Meanwhile, in the central city, Trafalgar and Hardy are thriving with cafes and restaurants, offering an authentic alfresco dining experience. Revel in the variety of local fare and international cuisine, and if you just so happen to miss out on the annual Feast of the Senses, why not create your own moveable feasts extravaganza, moving between central city restaurants to make the most of the diverse offerings? Top tip: During the week, Kirby Lane is a popular hangout for those that work in the CBD, with quirky food carts and market stalls serving up local fare in a relaxed alfresco setting.

Viva La Vaca Pocket Park Nelson
Photo courtesy of Dominic Hall Photography

7. Browse the central city shops and markets

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to indulgence in Nelson City, with fashion outlets, department stores, and boutique shops galore. If you happen to be in the City over the weekend, the Saturday Market held in Montgomery Square is a not-to-be-missed event that has drawn the loyal attendance of locals and visitors for the last 40 years. From the early hours of the morning right through until lunchtime, the carpark is abuzz with musicians, vocalists and performers, as well as stallholders and their customers, all there to celebrate the arts, artisans and authentic fare our region is renowned for. Linger and taste your way around the market – with world famous peanut butter, chutneys, nuts and all, we guarantee it’ll be hard for you to resist. Try on locally made clothing, and peruse the teatowels, paintings and handcrafted jewellery made lovingly by the creative residents who call Nelson Tasman their home.

Nelson Farmers Market
Photo courtesy of Nelson Regional Development Agency

8. Enjoy art and artisan experiences

There are plenty of opportunities to get those creative juices flowing through your veins, and immerse yourself in the creative essence of the region. Pick up a Nelson Arts Trail map from the local i-SITE and embark on a journey of artistic wonder, from the largest collection of watercolour paintings at the Suter Gallery to the works of New Zealand’s best known landscape photographer at the Craig Potton Gallery. Or, if outdoor masterpieces are more your thing, we recommend a wander down the Maitai River or around the central city, both of which are adorned with stunning sculptures, mesmerising murals and meticulate mosaics. Visit Jens Hansen, internationally acclaimed jeweller and maker of the ‘One Ring’ from Peter Jackson’s famous movies, or venture further afield to Stoke to view a fascinating collection of wearable arts garments.

Jens Hansen Nelson City
Photo courtesy of Nelson Regional Development Agency

9. Climb the lighthouse at the Boulder Bank

For 10,000 years, debris from the Mackay Bluffs was swept southwards, rolling over the seabed and forming a natural (and very rare) spit of boulders, stretching 13km long. Tucking Nelson City away behind a long finger of rough gravel and smooth boulders, the Boulder Bank Scenic Reserve helped indigenous Maori to shelter the harbour from early European Settlers, until their eventual discovery of the land in 1841. An 8km walk along the rock-strewn bank will give you a glimpse into its unique history, and a climb up the iconic lighthouse will treat you to stunning 360 degree views of Nelson City, the Western Ranges, and Tasman Bay.

Boulder Bank Lighthouse
Photo courtesy of Nelson Regional Development Agency

10. Attend one of the many events on the City's event calendar

Nelson City has a vibrant events calendar that spans the full length of the year, featuring hundreds of events that showcase the regions surprising diversity and keep locals and visitors entertained and enthralled! In summertime, we celebrate the results of a consistently sunny climate and extraordinary soils with the annual Cider, Beer & Wine festivals. In Autumn, we celebrate the flourishing performing arts community, as the Fringe Festival takes centre stage. During the winter, we don’t lock ourselves indoors – we form new connections and friendships at Feast for the Senses, or spend our evenings gazing in admiration at the works of talented locals, as sculptures, multimedia and interactive exhibits illuminate the pathways of the Queens Gardens for Light Nelson. And in Spring, the city comes alive in a blanket of colour as the annual Arts Festival and Masked Parade takes to the streets.

Central City Entertainment Nelson Lucy Revill
Photo courtesy of Lucy Revill, The Residents

 

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