Unarguably one of the most beautiful corners of New Zealand perched at the top of the South Island, the city and her surrounds are a gateway to some of the world's most beautiful walks, beaches and dreamy sunsets. Whether you're a hit-the-tramping-track adventurer or more comfortable in a café on Trafalgar Street, Nelson caters to all types.
Besides the four spots to check out listed below, Tahunanui beach, the colonial cottages and artisan boutiques on South Street or a wander around the top of Trafalgar Street (Hopgood's restaurant and a nap in the gardens of Church Hill) are also perfect for getting a feel for Nelson.
There is no better time to dine here than at sunset. Ask to be seated in the front part of the restaurant, on the balcony, and dangle over the sea with the dreamiest view of Rabbit Island and the sunset beyond. The menu revolves seasonally to reflect Nelson's local flavours, from the linguine with local cockles and white wine broth- presumably sourced from one of Nelson's excellent local wineries ($20.50)- to the beauty of serving gooey, fried haloumi with plump raisins, rocket and pine nuts ($12.50).
The wine list, too is understandably focused on Nelson's own offerings- try the Neudorf Sauvignon ($11.50 glass, $46 bottle) and enjoy the company (or in my case, my own company! Quite liberating actually).
I even spotted a Topp Twin here. What a night.
Centre of New Zealand Walk
So named because the walk's top spot was used as the centre point for the first geodetic survey of New Zealand, the Centre of New Zealand Walk is a nice chill wander for a sunny afternoon. Maybe do it earlier in the day to avoid melting. Accessed through the Botanical Reserve at the top of Hardy Street, the top offers beautiful views of the city and beyond, with the opportunity to walk further around the eastern side of the hill to Branford Park for a swim at Black Hole. Take the Maitai Track to get back to the reserve.
I came across this little gem on the recommendation of a friend, who raved about the Spanish egg dish, migas ($19.50). So I took that same friend back there for breakfast. He made a beeline for the migas again and I tried the grilled halloumi, poached eggs and kasundi on wholegrain ($19.50). They were both perfectly portioned, made with local Nelson produce, the perfect breakfast if you find yourself on New Street in the central city one morning. Deville also moonlights as a hip and happening gig venue, with local acts aplenty and a sweet setup outside with plenty of cushiony seating under a huge canvas verandah.
Happy Valley Adventures
Approximately twenty minutes' leisurely drive out from Nelson, Happy Valley Adventures is for the adrenaline junkie in your group. The entire valley effectively is the adventure park. Offering activities such as quad biking, horse trekking, and the Skywire- billed as "New Zealand's longest flying fox" spanning over three kilometres- it's a full afternoon of beautiful scenery and friendly guides to acquaint you further with the area.