How to Spend 1 Day in Nelson
A small city at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, Nelson is known for having the most annual sunshine hours in the country. A popular jumping-off point for trips to Marlborough Sounds and nearby national parks, the city itself is also a fun place to hang out. Here’s how to spend a full day in Nelson.
Morning: Hike to the Centre of New Zealand
If the weather’s good—as it often is in Nelson—walk to the Centre of New Zealand Monument. Just west of the central city, the easy uphill hike passes through native bush along walking and cycling paths. The views from the top are spectacular, reaching all the way to the mountains of Kahurangi National Park and the beaches of Abel Tasman. If you’re feeling energetic, wander the many trails through the Maitai Reserve to Walters Bluff. Alternatively, amble back to town via Queen’s Gardens.
If you happen to be in Nelson on a Saturday morning, pick up fresh produce and crafts at the Nelson Market, at Montgomery Square. A Nelson institution, the market is worth planning your day around.
Afternoon: Cool off at Tahunanui
A sweep of white sand with a backdrop of mountains, Nelson’s beach is an excellent place to take children, as the sea is sheltered and calm. If you’re there in summer, rent a stand-up paddleboard or kayak, and when the tide is low, explore the rock pools at the end of the beach. Tahunanui is a lovely place for a walk in any season, and there are cafés and restaurants nearby.
Night: Dine in the central city
Although it isn’t a big city, Nelson has some lively nightlife and good international dining. Bridge, Hardy, and Trafalgar streets are where you’ll find most bars and restaurants. Start with an alfresco dinner on Trafalgar Street’s pedestrian strip, then enjoy some live music at a bar.