And now it’s time to celebrate your lovely day with a drink. Nelson’s pubs 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 Cafe 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.
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 Escape 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.
Mapua, a 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 the 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 Winery , 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 Moutere 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”.
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 other restaurant you wanted to try last night. If you aren’t wined out, 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 NewZealand.com 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 plan to cook your own.