BUG New Zealand travel guidebook
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BUG New Zealand travel guidebook


BUG New Zealand travel guidebook

Destination guides > Pacific Islands > New Zealand > Nelson-Tasman Region > Nelson


Nelson is a small regional city at the geographic centre of New Zealand. It is the South Island’s oldest city, and one of the sunniest places in the country. It has excellent cafes, restaurants and pubs.

Christ Church Cathedral dominates Trafalgar Square and acts as a point of reference in the city centre. It is backed by beautiful gardens, and Trafalgar Street, which is loaded with shops and alfresco restaurants, runs out from here. The main attractions in the city are the Suter Art Gallery and the World of WearableArt Museum. The Nelson Provincial Museum in the centre of the city is an excellent account of the region’s history, and is much too often skipped over.

There are plenty of adventure activities that you can do within a short distance of Nelson. To the south is Nelson Lakes National Park, where you can hike, ski, kayak or go jet boating. To the north are Golden Bay and the scenic Abel Tasman National Park, with waterfalls, beaches, and forests that are great for hiking and kayaking.

Practical information

Nelson i-SITE Visitor Centre

Corner Halifax & Trafalgar Streets, Nelson
Tel (03) 548 2304
Website www.nelsonnz.com
Open Mon-Tue 8.30am-5pm, Wed 9am-5pm, Thu-Fri 8.30am-5pm, Sat-Sun 9am-4pm

Department of Conservation Visitor Centre

79 Trafalgar Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 546 9339
Website www.doc.govt.nz
Open Mon-Fri 8am-4.30pm


Showers are available at the Superloo on Montgomery Square in the city centre.

Aurora Internet Café

161 Trafalgar Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 5456 6867
Open 9am-5pm daily

Boots Off Travel Centre

53 Bridge Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 546 8789

KiwiNet Café

93 Hardy Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 548 8095
Website www.kiwinetcafe.com

Coming & going

Nelson is well connected to the rest of the country and some people opt to fly into Nelson from the North Island as an alternative to the Picton ferry.


Nelson boasts New Zealand’s fourth busiest airport, which is 8km west of the centre near Tahunanui Beach. Air2there (tel (04) 904 5130) fly to Paraparaumu and Wellington and Air New Zealand (tel 0800 737 000) fly to Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Wellington. The Super Shuttle (tel 0800 748 885 (0800 SHUTTLE)) connects the airport with the city centre and costs $15.


Atomic Shuttles (tel (03) 349 0697), InterCity Coachlines (tel (03) 365 1113) and Nakedbus.com are the main coach operators with services to most South Island destinations including direct services to Blenheim, Christchurch, Motueka, Picton and the West Coast.

Abel Tasman Coachlines (tel (03) 548 0285) have coaches to Abel Tasman National Park and Golden Bay.

InterCity and Abel Tasman Coachlines depart from the Travel Centre at 27 Bridge Street, but Atomic Shuttles, Naked Bus and some InterCity services leave from the visitor information centre at the corner of Halifax and Trafalgar streets.

Local transport

Nelson Suburban Bus Lines (SBL; tel (03) 548 3290) run local bus services from Nelson to the southern suburbs­ of Stoke and Richmond and THE BUS run four local bus routes within Nelson city. You’ll need to take the bus if you want to visit the museums in Stoke or if you’re staying in one of the hostels in Tahunanui.

SBL buses leave from the bus terminal at 27 Bridge Street and THE BUS services depart from Wakatu Square. Most buses run hourly.

Hostel accommodation

Accents on the Park

335 Trafalgar Square, Nelson
Tel (03) 548 4335 or 0800 888 335
No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk

Almond House Backpackers

63 Grove Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 545 6455

Beach Hostel

25 Muritai Street, Tahunanui
Tel (03) 548 6817

The Bug

226 Vanguard Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 539 4227

Bumbles Backpackers

8 Bridge Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 548 2771
No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk

Custom House

252 Haven Road, Nelson
Tel (03) 545 8365

No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk

Footprints by the Sea

31 Beach Road, Tahunanui
Tel (03) 546 5441

Gingerbread House

42 Westbrook Terrace, Nelson
Tel (03) 548 4854

The Green Monkey

129 Milton Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 545 7421

Honey Suckle House

125 Tasman Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 548 7576

The Palace

114 Rutherford Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 548 4691

Paradiso Backpackers

42 Weka Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 546 6703

No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk

Retreat Backpackers

163 Trafalgar Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 548 9001
No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk

Royal Hotel Backpackers

Corner Bridge & Collingwood Streets, Nelson
Tel (03) 546 9279

Shortbread Cottage

33 Trafalgar Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 546 6681

Tasman Bay Backpackers Hostel

10 Weka Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 548 7950

No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk

Tramper’s Rest

31 Alton Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 545 7477

YHA Nelson Central

59 Rutherford Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 545 9988

No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk

Eating & drinking

Eating cheaply in Nelson is easy. There are lots of little sandwich shops, bakeries and cafés with lunch specials, and some pubs have backpackers’ specials. Zest Café (56 Bridge Street, Nelson) has yummy quiches and sandwiches, and next door is a great Turkish café. For great vegetarian and vegan fare, head to Zippy’s Vegetarian Café (276 Hardy Street, Nelson). If you want to go to a pub, the Victorian Rose Pub (281 Trafalgar Street, Nelson) has backpacker meal and drink deals.

For dinner, self-catering is the cheapest. There is a Countdown (35 St Vincent Street, Nelson), a FreshChoice (69 Collingwood Street, Nelson), a Woolworths (corner Paru Paru Road & Halifax Street, Nelson) and a New World supermarket (corner Vanguard Road & Gloucester Street, Nelson) to the west of the centre.

Sightseeing, museums & tourist attractions

Nelson Provincial Museum

This museum features exhibits on local history in Nelson City and the Tasman District.

Corner Hardy and Trafalgar Streets, Nelson
Tel (03) 547 9740
Website www.museumnp.org.nz
Admission $5
Open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-4.30pm

The Suter Art Gallery

New Zealand’s third largest art museum has an impressive collection with works by John Gully, Sir Tosswill Woollaston and Gottfried Lindauer. A vibrant programme of temporary exhibitions complements its permanent collection.

208 Bridge Street, Nelson
Tel (03) 548 4699
Website www.thesuter.org.nz
Admission $3
Open 10.30am-4.30pm daily

World of WearableArt (WOW)

The World of WearableArt complex near the airport combines art, fashion and a classic car museum.

95 Quarantine Road, Annesbrook
Tel (03) 548 9299
Website www.worldofwearableart.com
Admission $18
Open 10am-5pm daily

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