Exploring Nelson, NZ

Situated on New Zealand’s South Island, Nelson offers scenic coastal views and plenty of outdoor spaces ready for exploration. Nelson sits on the Tasman Bay, a location that makes watersports, coastal walks, and beach days easily within reach. Home to several national parks and even more hiking trails, Nelson truly is an outdoor lover’s paradise. As your campervan hire New Zealand visits Nelson, you’ll be delighted by the arts and cultural opportunities in the area as well. Design your Nelson itinerary with these tips in mind.

National Parks

The coastal views throughout Nelson are truly unmatched. As a result, when you arrive here, you will immediately want to explore the area’s natural beauty. Fortunately, Nelson is rich in outdoor activities and scenery, leaving much for visitors to explore. To start your tour in your campervan hire New Zealand, begin by visiting some of the area’s national parks, including the following:

  • Nelson Lakes National Park: The Southern Alps begin in this national park, making it a must-visit during your trip to Nelson. In total, the park consumes 102,000 hectares and offers ample opportunities for exploration. Novice hikers will find several coastal walking tracks to explore. More adventurous travellers can enjoy more challenging alpine hikes.
  • Abel Tasman National Park: If it’s the coast you want to explore, look no further than Abel Tasman National Park. A water lover’s paradise, this national park boasts ample opportunities to enjoy the water, whether you hop aboard a catamaran, kayak, or water taxi. The water is calm, and the sandy beaches are ideal for a day spent in the sun.

Walking and Hiking Tracks

Outdoor exploration doesn’t stop at these Nelson national parks. Plenty of other walking and hiking tracks are available for your enjoyment. For a taste of local culture, try the Centre of New Zealand Walk, a family-friendly 1-hour walk that offers stellar views thanks to its steep incline. However, the walk is short, so it works well for hikers of all ages and skill levels.

The Abel Tasman Coast Track weaves through the Abel Tasman National Park, allowing you to take in scenic coastal views and possibly spot some wildlife. Walking the full length of the track will take 3 to 5 days. However, you don’t have to commit to the full walk. You can also hop on and off of the track at various junctures, allow you to spend a couple of hours or a day on it, depending on your schedule.

Take in the beauty of a waterfall by traversing the Wainui Falls Track, located about 2 hours from Nelson. This track spans 3.4 kilometres and takes about an hour and a half to complete. You’ll weave through lush forests on your way to the Wainui waterfall. You’ll encounter a swing bridge as well as some steep drops along the way.

Arts and Culture

Soak up the local culture at several spots around Nelson. If you’re in the area on the weekend, head to the city centre on Saturdays where you can stroll through local markets. Here, you can peruse handcrafted works from local artists and perhaps even find something to take home as a memory of your trip. For a unique experience, head to the World of Wearable Art Museum, the world’s only of its kind. Here, you can stroll through exhibitions of impressive wearable art pieces amassed from artists from around the globe. The WOW Museum is adjacent to the Nelson Classic Car Collection, where you can view cars that you probably don’t see on the road every day.

There’s more art and culture to explore in Nelson. Visit the Suter Art Gallery where you can check out  a variety of exhibits from renowned artists, including classic still life works of art. Check the schedule at the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts, a performance venue that welcomes world-class musicians year-round.


Nelson’s temperate climate allows vineyards in the area to flourish and develop flavourful wines. Check out Neudorf Vineyards, which opened in the 1970s. This family-owned vineyard produces pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, Riesling, and other wines. Visit the Cellar Door at the vineyard, where you can sample wines and pick up a bottle or place an order to ship home. Seifried Estate is another vineyard worth visiting. As the South Island’s longest commercial vineyard, Seifried Estate has experience developing an array of wines, including pinot gris and chardonnay. The winery welcomes visitors for tours and samples and even has a children’s playground on site, making it family friendly.

Immerse yourself in local culture when you visit Nelson. Whether you’re attending a live performance, touring a museum or art gallery, or exploring a vineyard, the area allows its visitors to take in local culture. Plus, Nelson’s outdoor opportunities abound and are open for exploration. Mix and match activities to design an itinerary perfect for you and your travel companions. With these ideas in mind, you’ll find plenty to do as you take your campervan hire New Zealand to Nelson.

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