Nelson – the sunniest place in New Zealand?

Nelson - Tahunanui Beach

Nelson is a little city at the top of the South Island renowned for its sunny weather and beautiful beaches. I recently spent a couple of days there and can highly recommend it. Similar to Christchurch, Nelson has had a rough time of it recently. Several large storms caused floods and landslips around the city and surrounding areas, but only a few shipping containers protecting the road from the cliffs are all that can really been seen of that now. The weather when I went was stunning, blues skies and warm breezes, so I spent most of the days on Tahunanui Beach, swimming and sunbathing.

I did manage to drag myself away to visit a few sights though including the World of Wearable Art (WOW) & Classic Car Museum, the Blackenbrook Vineyard, the Suter Art Gallery, and of course some of the shops in the city centre.

Nelson has a really relaxed atmosphere and although not as large as other cities in New Zealand, there always seems to be a lot going on. There are several markets on weekends to check out as well as the museum in the city centre. Art is a major past time in Nelson and there are numerous galleries around the area with everything from glass blowing, to painting, to sculptures and to mosaics.

The area is a big wine growing region too so there are plenty of vineyards to keep you occupied. One of my favourite wines, the

Blackenbrook Pinot Noir, comes from this region so it was great to finally get a chance to go to the vineyard. I did also find it for sale in Nelson city centre though in a wonderful wine store called Casa del Vino (214 Hardy Street, Nelson). This is a must stop for any wine lover and also is the only specialist wine store at the top of the South Island. They have an amazing range of Nelson wines if you haven’t got time to cruise all the vineyards, as well as fine wines from around New Zealand and beyond.

There are lots of cute boutique style shops in Nelson which are a great way to spend a few hours. As well as my wine store discovery find, I also discovered an amazing shop called Vintage Heaven (50 Bridge Street, Nelson – see for store opening hours). They sell new vintage and retro inspired clothes (including my favourite 50’s style) and I spent quite some time browsing through the racks.

Penguino Gelato

One of the highlights of my shopping day definitely had to be stopping off for a gelato at Penguino Gelato Ice Cream Café (85 Montgomery Square, Nelson – open 7 days 10am-5pm). I had a double scoop, one of chocolate and the other their award winning mango lassi. To say it was divine is an understatement. It wasn’t the cheapest of ice creams but it was definitely worth it and will be back there in a flash next time I’m in Nelson.

Whilst in Nelson I stayed at the Tahunanui Beach Holiday Park (70 Beach Road, Tahunanui – just outside the city centre of Nelson) in one of their kitchen cabins. Although basic, it was clean and tidy. Although they don’t have bathrooms in them, the toilet and shower block was only about 20 feet away and again was cleaned regularly. The cabin did include a full kitchen and fridge, and even had a small TV. It was definitely a good place to stay. My one negative would be the noise. The holiday park is under the flight take-off and landing path from Nelson Airport. Although not a particularly busy airport, and luckily no planes after about 11pm, it did feel like they were going to land on your head a lot of the time. With the first flight at about 7am too you definitely won’t be having a sleep in.

All in all Nelson should definitely be on the list of places to visit in New Zealand. Not only is the city delightful, but it is also the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park, which is where I headed to after my stay in Nelson.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Ah Penguino! I’d forgotten about them, but definitely one of the best ice creams Ive ever had.

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