Perhaps it will be no surprise to learn that Nelson was named after Admiral Horatio Nelson, and in terms of European history is considered to be the oldest city in the South Island. It looks out over beautiful Tasman Bay and on a clear day a panorama of mountain ranges fringes the skyline. It’s a relatively small city but it has a lively feel to it, with a great food and wine scene, numerous live music venues and a thriving arts and crafts community. Indeed, there are over 350 studios and galleries dotted around, with many more to discover as you travel west around Golden Bay and through Motueka.
The region is the sunniest in the country and so it’s fortuitous that it is blessed with some glorious beaches, from Tahunanui just outside the city, to the golden stretches of Abel Tasman National Park, about an hour’s drive away. Abel Tasman is also an unspoilt and breath-takingly beautiful playground for walkers and kayakers alike. One of the country’s Great Walks runs 60 kilometres along the coast and the sheltered turquoise waters provide excellent conditions for water-based activities.
Due to the climate, is has long been an important fruit growing area, with hundreds of orchards carpeting the hills, but more recently it has also gained a reputation as an excellent wine producing region. A number of boutique vineyards proudly create some excellent Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling varieties which are well worth sampling whilst in the area.