What to do and see in Nelson, New Zealand: The Best Places and Tips

September 23, 2017 Russell Mellin

Nelson’s thriving arts and music scene has helped to establish it as a destination for free spirits and art-lovers. Festivals, studios, galleries, craft markets… Every cranny of this South Island city seems to buzz with artistic energy. Lord of the Rings fans will flip for the Jens Hansen workshop in Trafalgar Square—Hansen is the goldsmith who designed the “precious” guarded by Frodo in the LOTR films.
Restaurants in Nelson

1. World of WearableArt & Classic Cars Museum

Cadillac Way Off Quarantine Rd, Nelson 7040, New Zealand +64 3-547 4573
Excellent
70%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

World of WearableArt & Classic Cars Museum

The World of WearableArt and Classic Cars Museum is an iconic Nelson visitor attraction that celebrates two passions united by design. Amazing Wearable works of Art from the annual WOW Awards Show are displayed alongside one of Australasia's biggest private collections of rare, Classic Cars. The Museum also includes a Cafe renowned for it's tasty, healthy treats, a Retail Store full of NZ art and jewelry designs, and the ever-changing Reflections Art Gallery. Open every day 10am - 5pm (except Christmas Day)

Reviewed By Introvertica - Canada

This place consists of two different and completely unrelated museums. One offers bizarre, other-worldly, and often zany costumes--literally wearable art, although one would not wear any of them in ordinary circumstances. The other is a collection of classic cars.
This combination was perfect for my spouse and me. I was entranced by the wearable art; he loved the classic cars.
To me, most of the cars were things I had seen before, at other car museums and exhibits that my spouse has dragged me to. If you like that sort of thing, you will love this, with specimens from the late nineteenth century up to the late twentieth century. All of them are in impeccable condition.
But for a genuinely unique experience, spend your time with the wearable art. It is simply impossible to describe in words the imagination that has produced these costumes. Some are witty; some are silly; some are scary; some are beautiful; most are very attention-grabbing; and most are made of materials not often used for people's clothes--including various metals, plastics, and wood, in addition to fabrics of all kinds.
There are also videos on rotation in a small theatre, which portray the history of the World of WearableArt competition, and showcase some of the designers.
This exhibit is, in my view, completely worth seeing. Be prepared to be blown away, and expect to spend at least a couple of hours here, if you want to soak in the details of the costumes.
The only disappointment was the gift store. I would have been willing to buy some sort of souvenir, but there was very little on offer.

2. Nelson i-SITE Visitor Information Centre

75 Trafalgar Street | Millers Acre Centre, Level 1, Nelson 7040, New Zealand +64 3-548 2304
Excellent
68%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 168 reviews

Nelson i-SITE Visitor Information Centre

Located on the corner of Trafalgar & Halifax Streets. Friendly, Knowledgeable and Enthusiastic i-SITE Travel Consultants. We can book your NZ Travel, Accommodation and Activities at no extra cost. Incredible i-SITE space incorporating the Nelson DOC Visitor Centre. Lots of incredible picture boards with display brochures and information on our region and beyond. Let us take the hassle out of booking your holiday in our beautiful region and across the country. Quick, easy, secure, cost effective. We also sell tickets to a range of local and national events.

Reviewed By Oldjack - Greater Melbourne, Australia

This is your fairly typical Visitor Information Center that provides brochures and booking service and does it OK.

3. Queen's Gardens

Bridge Street, Nelson, New Zealand +64 3-546 0200
Excellent
58%
Good
38%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 216 reviews

Queen's Gardens

Reviewed By Julie R - Yallingup, Australia

If you are staying in Nelson I can recommend a visit to the Queen's Gardens. Lovely Gardens and waterways and a very peaceful place to take a stroll. Parking in the nearby streets can be difficult but with patience you will find a spot.

4. Centre of New Zealand

Nelson 7010, New Zealand
Excellent
53%
Good
41%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 674 reviews

Centre of New Zealand

Reviewed By Ada1207 - Bristol, United Kingdom

About a 25 minute twisting, fairly steep gravel path to get to the top. Not truly spectacular views but worth the climb and you can say you have been at the centre of NZ!

5. Tahunanui Beach

Bisley Walk, Nelson 7011, New Zealand +64 3-548 5278
Excellent
58%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 185 reviews

Tahunanui Beach

Reviewed By Oldjack - Greater Melbourne, Australia

We picked a bad time as someone let the sewerage slip out into the sea and the beach was closed for swimming but that did not explain the large amount of sea weed and tree debris scattered along the beach. It was somewhat dirty and untidy although it did have large expanses of not that sparkling clean sand.Find somewhere else to swim.

6. Nelson Saturday Market

Montgomery Square, Nelson, New Zealand +64 3-546 6454
Excellent
58%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 275 reviews

Nelson Saturday Market

Reviewed By SaffronClark - Auckland, New Zealand

Such a great market! Delicious produce - we bought some fruit and veggies which were lovely. There was a vegan butcher there that I bought the nicest vegan sausages I’ve ever tasted from! I was super excited to get to the Loving Hut caravan, this was the main reason I HAD to go to the markets. Had heard amazing things about the food and cheese. We wandered around everywhere looking for them, up and down every aisle twice, before asking some people that were at the vegan butcher if they knew where it was. They told me and I rushed there, alas, the one weekend it wasn’t there, happened to be when I was in town. Other than that disappointment, that I was pretty dramatic about at the time, haha - we had an amazing time. We got some beautiful shampoo bars and soap bars and some delicious smelling bath bombs for our daughter for Christmas. We also happened upon the best salesman ever, he was fantastic, so entertaining and so good at selling! We bought a Steam Boat Billy for our son and nephew from him - these were super cute wee candle powered metal boats. Highly recommend heading to the markets if you’re in the area on Saturday, one of the best markets I’ve been to.

7. Rabbit island

Rabbit Island | Nelson, Nelson 7081, New Zealand
Excellent
65%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 84 reviews

Rabbit island

Reviewed By GlobalVillage - Burlington, Vermont

On our bike trip from Richard to Mapua, we loved biking on Rabbit Island, particularly the section where, when biking on a wide dirt ride, the ocean was on one side and a Pine Forest was on the other side. Parts of the trail go through a paved area for cars to park. However, the good news is that there are several bathrooms along the route. Though a working Forestry Plantation, we still loved our ride to Mapua, and, two days later, our return to Richmond. Don't forget to book the Mapua Ferry and follow its schedule if that is your destination! We'd absolutely return to Rabbit Island if we were to return for a Richmond to Mapua bike trip!

8. Founders Park

87 Atawhai Drive | Brooklands, Nelson 7010, New Zealand +64 3-548 2649
Excellent
47%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
13%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 401 reviews

Founders Park

Reviewed By SaffronClark - Auckland, New Zealand

This is a gorgeous wee historical village. The buildings are so beautiful, it’s all be put together amazingly, my husband and I loved wandering through the whole place. It’s a fantastic thing to do whilst in Nelson, there is a cafe and bar there, though we didn’t go into it, but it would be a nice place to do half, have lunch and then do the final half after a meal and drink.

9. Christ Church Cathedral

Church Hill, Nelson, New Zealand +64 3-548 1008
Excellent
46%
Good
40%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 266 reviews

Christ Church Cathedral

Reviewed By Paul_n_Cris - Melbourne, Australia

Yep it's an old church, yep stained glass windows. Other than that much the same as many othrs. A few bits of information around the church but all of this lacked anything special. Seen hundreds of churches now and looking for something different that makes it a place ro see.

208 Bridge Street, Nelson, New Zealand +64 3-548 4699
Excellent
53%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 134 reviews

Suter Gallery Nelson

Reviewed By Paul_n_Cris - Melbourne, Australia

Free to enter. Has 4 galeries you can wonder through. The first we found interesting but the other three didn’t have anything that really interested us. I did have a chuckle at the Emporers clothes though. Come for the cafe.

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