Nelson Tasman is renowned for the creative work its people produce, and we are very proud of the independent, ground-breaking artists and artisans that thrive amongst our community.
The region’s weekend markets, which are a showcase of their passion for the arts, have been around for decades, whilst the weekly Farmers Market and the Stoke Twilight Market are more recent additions to the weekly calendar.
The artistic essence of our region is also celebrated through a vibrant, year-round programme of activity. Some highlights of the Nelson Tasman event calendar include the bi-annual Light Nelson Festival, Arts Festival, Art Expo, Fringe Festival, Adam Chamber Music Festival, Ceol Aneas Irish Music Festival and the Buskers Festival, which attract visitors from near and far to experience the region in all of its artistic splendour.
For a surprisingly diverse and unique experience, take a trip on some of the art trails that span the length of the region, visiting local artists at work in their studios. Whether you’re on foot, riding a bike, or driving, an arts adventure is sure to satisfy your aesthetic taste, and there’s plenty to choose from as Nelson Tasman is home to one of the largest number of working artists in the country.
One of these is the Hoglund Glassblowing Studio, which has been a visitor attraction here for nearly four decades. With a studio situated along the Great Taste Trail, the Höglund family work with simple wooden tools and stainless steel blow pipes to create freeform glass art designs in the complex glassmaking techniques of Ariel, Graal, Sommerso, Incalmo, Engraving, Painting and Etching. Nearby, in Nelson City, you’ll find the iconic Jens Hansen studio, where the maker of the One Ring from the Lord of the Rings movies creates a range of contemporary artisan jewellery and precious handcrafted pieces.
The region is also home to three of New Zealand’s oldest and most cherished cultural centres – the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts (formerly the Nelson School of Music), the Theatre Royal and The Suter Art Gallery. These centres attract visitors from all over New Zealand and the world, and within their walls you will see some of the greatest performances imaginable, from the largest chamber music festival in the country, to comedy, theatre and talks, contemporary music, opera, and modern and traditional art spanning more than 200 years.
Nelson Tasman has always been desirable, with Māori being the first to recognise the region’s natural attributes and abundance. There are eight iwi across the top of the South Island – including Nelson Tasman and Marlborough: Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Rangitāne, Ngāti Tama, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Rārua. You can find out more about the diverse regional history at the Nelson Provincial Museum, at Founders Heritage Park, at one of the Heritage Houses open to the public, or you could take a walk down the cobblestones of South Street to see New Zealand’s oldest and fully-preserved Victorian heritage street.