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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 that it is considered one of New Zealand’s top places to live and a desirable place for retirement living.
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 isn't a maritime museum but there is the Nelson Provincial Museum, filled with cultural heritage and natural history exhibits. The Founders Heritage Park 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?
What not to miss:
- Spend lazy days under the sun lounging on the pristine Tahunanui Beach.
- Make a stop at Nelson's striking Art Deco Cathedral.
- Head out of the city and embark on long hikes through the stunning Abel Tasman National Park.
- Visit the numerous excellent wineries in the vicinity.
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 views
- 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.
For an apartment or villa
- If you've decided that a self catering property would be more suitable for your holiday, then we recommend you visit our online booking partner Booking.com where they have a wide selection for all tastes and budgets.
- Fly to Nelson Airport which has connections from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
- Frequent ferries run between Wellington and Picton 110km away with onward bus connections to Nelson.
- Best time to visit - The Nelson Tasman region has an enviable Mediterranean and sunny climate that allows visitors to explore and enjoy all year round.
- If you plan to hire a car, we recommend you visit our online partner Rentalcars for the best prices.
Still not sure?
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.
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.
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.