A travel guide to Nelson, New Zealand providing Nelson tourism and travel information with national parks, hotels, tourist attractions, restaurants, shopping, tours and things to do.
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Nelson travel guide


The Nelson region, according to its proud residents, is no less than "the center of everything." Not only is it recognized as the geographical center of New Zealand, but it’s also the center of apple, hops, and tobacco growing regions. In addition, locals claim Nelson as the "sunshine" center, the "arts and crafts" center, and even the "conference" center of the country! Hyperbole notwithstanding, the city of Nelson is a lively base from which to head out for hiking trips in Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson Lakes National Park, or the Heaphy Hiking Track. Add plenty of sunshine, sea, and sand and you have the local equation for perfection. The people are creative, relaxed, and make you feel right at home, and partly due to this atmosphere the town attracts a mellow crowd – even in midsummer when New Zealanders flock to the region for R&R, a deep suntan, and bargain hunting from a wide variety of locally produced crafts. Nelson is also the main commercial center for the northwest, and it’s a good idea to stock up on camping equipment and hiking supplies before continuing on to the national parks or walking tracks.

The large Public Relations Office is the first place to go; if you’re exploring Nelson on foot, pick up handy City Walks pamphlets and be sure to ask if there are any events going on around town – regular park days with bright carnival atmosphere and various festivities put on to promote the use of the many local parks. Before you leave the PRO, check the outside notice boards: useful info on local tours, launch trips, guided walks, arts and crafts outlets, and transportation to and from the two main hiking tracks (Heaphy and Wangapeka) in the Nelson region.

Walk south from the PRO alongside Trafalgar Street to Nelson’s impressive Christ Church Cathedral, whose tower dominates the inner city area. To view some of Nelson’s attractive older buildings take Nile St. West, then turn left on South Street. South Street Gallery on Nile St. opposite the Rutherford Hotel is definitely worth a stop to view its rustic interior while appreciating the works of local artists, and maybe picking up a superb piece of local pottery for which the gallery is renowned. Intriguing shops and boutiques selling everything from jewelry and art to handmade wool sweaters and other woolen products are located along Nile Street. 

If you have your own transportation, watch for the white arrows on blue AA signs scattered around the city. This scenic circuit (start at any point) takes willing participants on a 27km drive to Nelson’s lookouts, scenic and historic spots and general places of interest.

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