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Nelson Region

The Nelson region is in the northwest corner of the South Island. It can be divided into five distinct areas:

  • the alpine lakes and rivers around Nelson Lakes & Murchison including Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi National Parks
  • Golden Bay between Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks
  • the beautiful coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park
  • the horticultural land around Mapua, Motueka,and Moutere
  • the urban centres of Nelson & Richmond

    Maori occupation dates back some 800 years, while European settlement began in 1842. Today Nelson is made up of Kiwis and increasing numbers of immigrants from the UK, Germany, America and further afield.

    The Nelson economy is based on four major industries - seafood, horticulture, tourism and forestry. Port Nelson is the biggest fishing port in Australasia. There is also a range of growth industries, including art and craft, aviation, engineering technology, and information technology.

    Nelson offers many outdoor adventure opportunities from sea kayaking to rock climbing. The region is known for its stunning scenery and its three national parks, Abel Tasman National Park, Kahurangi National Park and Nelson Lakes National Park, attract many visitors.

    Visitors include those who want to tramp or climb or take a boat on the lake, or those attracted by the important conservation work being done at Lake Rotoiti to reverse the threat to the life of the birds and the bush from predators.

    Looking towards the head of Lake Rotoiti
    Looking towards the head of Lake Rotoiti - Credit- Peter Hunt

    Nelson area has a reputation for fine wines, for the work of its 350 working artists, and its small town informality and friendliness.

    Nelson   -  the city

    Nelson, a coastal city, is the main centre for the Nelson province and has long been very popular for holidays for families and those seeking outdoor activities.

    Nelson with Richmond has a combined population of 53,000 which makes it New Zealand's 10th most populous city. Nelson city enjoys New Zealand's highest sunshine hours which makes it an ideal holiday centre.

    Since its foundation in 1840 the city has spread over the surrounding hills and along the coast. It has some tourist hotels and many motels and other holiday accommodation. The camping ground at Tahunanui Beach has long been so popular that many people book their site from one summer to the next.

    Nelson - Cathedral Steps
    Nelson - Cathedral Steps - Credit- Peter Hunt

    The cathedral set on a hill in the centre of the city with the Cawthron Steps leading to it is probably the most often photographed site in Nelson city.

    The shopping centre, decorated in the summer with hanging baskets of flowers, is crowded with tourists during the summer months, and the town also attracts visitors in the so-called off-season because of its pleasant climate.

    For a magnificent view walk or drive up to Britannia Heights, and from the lookout you will see across Tasman Bay to mountains and beaches and closer at hand Haulashore Island, the Nelson harbour and its sheltering Boulder Bank.

    Nelson - Looking below Davis Lookout at Arrow Rock, Haulashore Island and the end of the Boulder Bank
    Nelson - Looking below Davis Lookout at Arrow Rock, Haulashore Island and the end of the Boulder Bank - Credit- Peter Hunt

    Also worth a visit are Botanical Hill, known as the geographical Centre of New Zealand, the Queens Gardens, the Suter Gallery, Isel Park, and Broadgreen cob house/museum and garden.

    The city and the district are well known for their orchards, their vineyards, their wineries and restaurants and the thriving arts and crafts communities.

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