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Nelson is the oldest of New Zealand’s settlements, a port town at the very top of the South Island, actually a bit higher than Wellington. It overlooks the spectacular Tasman Bay, and is right on the edge of the pristine wilderness of the Abel Tasman National Park. Despite being a relatively small city, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to selecting the best places to stay in Nelson, ranging from city centre B&Bs to villas overlooking the Waimea Estuary
It’s not just Nelson’s scenery and the promise of some great outdoor adventuring that draws visitors; this is a lively little city, with great beaches, lots of parks and green space, plenty of sunshine and a vibrant cultural life. It’s so nice in fact that it’s considered one of New Zealand’s top places to live and a desirable place to retire to.
Nelson has one of the best, and safest, beaches in New Zealand, Tahunanui Beach, which is backed by a large, grassy park with a swimming pool and cafe etc.. Nelson also has a great Saturday morning market, held in the Montgomery Square car park.
If you’re at all familiar with Admiral Horatio Nelson, then you’ll recognise the names of many Nelson streets and landmarks. Surprisingly there’s no maritime museum here, but there is the Nelson Provincial Museum, which is filled with cultural heritage and natural history exhibits, and the Founders Heritage Park, which is a replica historic village. Nelson also has a beautiful Art Deco Cathedral and an art gallery.
Of course you’ll also want to get out on the water and explore the Abel Tasman National Park, and possibly visit some local wineries?
Our pick of the best places to stay in Nelson offer something for all budgets and tastes, and all are ideal bases for exploring the city and surrounding region.
For waterfront vews
- Wakefield Quay House is a luxurious two room B&B villa right on Nelson’s waterfront, with fantastic views over Tasman Bay. The rooms are decorated with antiques and original art works. And you’re close to some of Nelson’s great restaurants.
- The Bronte Country Estate is on Nelson’s Bronte Peninsula, offering views over the Waimea Estuary. The rooms are chic and modern with private terraces and verandas. There’s also a swimming pool, a lovely rose garden and free bike hire.
- The Cathedral Inn is a seven room B&B which has been carefully converted from a 19th Century mansion in the heart of Nelson. As well as being within walking distance from many of the main attractions, you’re also close to the Abel Tasman National Park - and your immediate surroundings are a large, tree-filled garden.
- A Culinary Experience is a boutique, two room B&B focussed on gourmet food, cooking classes and wine tasting tours. The accommodation is light and luxurious, with a hot tub, private cellars and a large veranda. You’re also close to the beach and the Abel Tasman National Park.
Still not sure which is the best place to stay in Nelson for you? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Nelson, or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice. Alternatively you can extend your search and take a look at all our South Island recommendations.
Best Hotels in Nelson
Cathedral Inn 7 rooms from $125Nelson
19th century mansion turned B&B in the centre of Nelson. Rooms are individually decorated in traditional style. Large tree-filled garden with outdoor seating areas. Within walking distance of cathedral, restaurants and galleries. Close to Abel Tasman National Park for great walks and birdwatching.Sights nearby - Right beside Christ Church Cathedral.Restrictions on children - Must be 12 or overLocal markets - Good for local colour.Birdwatching - Good birding near the hotel.
A Culinary Experience 2 rooms from $221Nelson (Atawhai)
Boutique B&B outside Nelson with two large, light and luxurious suites adorned with original art. Hot tub, private wine cellar, private verandas and large garden to relax in. Gourmet breakfast, cooking classes and wine tours available. Close to beaches and great walks in Abel Tasman National Park.Views - The patios and decks have stunning viewsLocal markets - Nelson holds a market every SaturdaySailing - Can be booked nearby.Cooking classes - Check for timings.
Wakefield Quay House 2 rooms from $221Nelson
Luxury B&B in 1905 historic villa on Nelson's waterfront with glorious views over Tasman Bay. Two tasteful, elegant and spacious ensuite rooms with antiques and original artworks. Close to Abel Tasman National Park, wineries and within walking distance of restaurants. Great for a weekend break.Views - Overlooking Tasman Bay and Nelson's Harbour entranceGreat walks - Abel Tasman Coastal TrackSailing - Can be booked nearby.Local markets - Good for local colour.
Bronte Country Estate 5 rooms from $460Nelson
Luxury suites and villas set on Nelson's Bronte Peninsula with views across Waimea Estuary. Chic, modern and elegant rooms with private terraces and verandas. With a swimming pool, massage facilities and free use of bikes. Lovely rose gardens. Family owned for generations.Birdwatching - On Waimea EstuaryLocal markets - Good for local colour.Back to NatureGreat walks - Good for walkers.