Two Perfect Days in Nelson

View from Princes Drive

View from Princes Drive

With your heads crammed full of culture, it’s time to enjoy the natural
beauty of Tasman Bay. Drive down Haven Road to the waterfront (ignoring
industrial mess of the port on the way) for a look at Nelson’s
unique geologically formed Haven. This 7 mile (13 km) long narrow
harbor is
by a natural boulder bank which protects Nelson from the full
force of Tasman Bay. You can stop for a short walk along
the Quay, or drive along to visit Tahunanui Beach. Just past the beach,
left at the traffic signal onto Bisley Ave for a quick steep climb
(stay left through the two roundabouts) to a
fantastic view across Tasman Bay to Abel Tasman National Park from
Princes Drive. Park at the top for a few photos, then continue
down Princes Drive to Washington Road, where you can wind your
way back into town.

And now it’s time to celebrate your lovely day with a drink. Nelson’s
and bars reward a long day of touristing with high quality beers,
wines, cocktails, and a good variety of platters and small snacks as
you ponder the choices for dinner.  Our favorites are the Sprig
and Fern Taverns
, Harry’s Bar and the Verdict.

You could segue straight into dinner at any of our preferred drink
spots but you are on holiday, so why not step out for nice meal. We
have never been disappointed at the Saltwater
in the Haven for
waterfront views, excellent wine choices and interesting meals. If you
didn’t do BarDelicious for lunch, it makes
for an equally lovely dinner
choice as well. And if you are in the mood for an authentic ethnic
meal, Nelson’s choices are limited but the Indian Cafe on Collingwood
Street is an absolute winner with an array of complex and subtle
flavors, including the world’s best (only?) tandoori lamb chops.

3. Sunday Morning

Now you’ve seen the town of Nelson and it’s time to drive around the
Nelson/Tasman region. Today will be about lifestyle- soaking in
pastoral scenes, lovely views, fine wines and imagining a life of
genteel luxury. If you get an early-ish start, you can fit in a trip to
the World
of Wearable Arts (WOW) Museum

in the morning since they open daily at 10. The collection of Wearable
Arts, which are dramatic creations blurring distinction between costume
and sculpture, is paired with a car museum boasting impressive variety.

Approaching lunchtime,
head to The Grape
on Highway 60 in Appleby,
about 30 minutes drive from town. It’s a nicely conceived destination
with wine tasting from two wineries, a couple of craft shops plus a
Prenzel Liquors tasting room as well all wrapped around a few
tables for enjoying a light meal. A group can share platters of local
cheeses, olives and breads or order from the menu while sampling the
wines on offer. And yes, those are yaks and lamas grazing in the
paddock out front.

4. Sunday Afternoon


Mapua View

From there you can continue along the Appleby Highway to Mapua,
worthwhile short detour into a lovely estuary that’s developing as a
solid destination. The road ends at a small waterfront that houses a
few nice restaurants, galleries and a
tiny aquarium well stocked with local sea life. Once back on the
highway, not too much further along is the pristine Ruby Bay. We always
stop to enjoy this peaceful curve of sand with it’s broad views back to
Nelson side of the Tasman Bay. You can pick up a few seashells, then
hop back into the car to head via Seaton Valley and Gardiner Valley Roads (map) to Neudorf
, hands down the most
celebrated winery in
the region. They make french style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that you
won’t find elsewhere in New Zealand. Popular in
France, they recently lost orders from a couple of
Michelin 3-star
restaurants in
Paris for following the NZ trend of switching from cork to screwtop,
but were reassured that in a few years when
Europe “catches up” they will go back onto the menus.

From there, you can head back to Nelson via the Moutere Highway. The
rolling agricultural valleys will feel familiar if you’ve ever traveled
the apple and grape regions in Europe or Northern California. Stop into
other wineries along the way that strike your fancy. The
is also famous for black currants so you might see
the harvest in
season (January/February) or encounter a pick-your-own. On this drive
you could well see some
of New Zealand’s famous ‘honesty boxes’, where farmers leave bagged
produce and a money-can allowing help-yourself produce shopping. We’ve
bought peas and apples we didn’t really need just for the fun of doing
it. They tasted as fresh as homegrown and were “cheap as”.

Moutere Hopfields

Moutere Hopfields

You will connect back to the Appleby Highway where you can pull off for
a snack and sip at the Abbey Restaurant with it’s
gloriously high roofed
patio that’s so full of trees, flowers and sparrows you forget it is
covered unless it’s
raining. They serve a good range of local wines and beers along with
gourmet treats.

It’s time to head back into town to freshen up for dinner
at the
restaurant you wanted to try last night. If you aren’t wined
you can order a bottle from another of our regional favorites such as
Greenhough or Brightwater


  • For more Nelson lodging and tourism information, see NelsonWeb or the site.
  • At the iSite, be sure to pick up a copy of the very useful
    and free Eat Drink Nelson dining guide.
  • If you are craving fish and chips instead of a restaurant
    meal, Haven Fish and Chips are
    nationally renowned for fresh, succulent
    fillets. And Guyton’s next door can sell you premium seafood if you
    to cook your own.

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