Photo of Nelson

About Nelson

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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.

The Best Places to Stay in Nelson

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.
  • Te Koi Lodge 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, lovely gardens and gourmet dining.

For relaxing

  • 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.

For foodies

  • 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.

Travel information

  • Nelson Airport 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?


Monthly Weather in Nelson

Best Hotels in Nelson

  • Cathedral Inn Nelson 7 rooms from £96

    Sights nearby  -  Right beside Christ Church Cathedral.
    Restrictions on children  -  Must be 12 or over
    Local markets  -  Good for local colour.
    Birdwatching  -  Good birding near the hotel.
    GardenPet friendlyParking

    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. See More

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  • A Culinary Experience Nelson (Atawhai) 2 rooms from £170

    Views  -  The patios and decks have stunning views
    Local markets  -  Nelson holds a market every Saturday
    Great walks  -  Good for walkers.
    Sailing  -  Can be booked nearby.

    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. See More

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  • Wakefield Quay House Nelson 2 rooms from £170

    Views  -  Overlooking Tasman Bay and Nelson's Harbour entrance
    Great walks  -  Abel Tasman Coastal Track
    Sailing  -  Can be booked nearby.
    Hideaway  -  Tranquil and intimate.
    GardenViewsParkingNo pets

    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. See More

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  • Retiro Park Lodge Nelson 2 rooms from £173

    Country Escape  -  A charming rural house covered in wisteria and set in 90 acres of farmland filled with miniture ponies and alpacas - idyllic
    Groups  -  With just two rooms this is the perfect property to rent out in its entirety for a small group
    Kayaking  -  Explore the coastline from Cable Bay Beach
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Swimming PoolGardenParkingNo pets

    A charming little lodge set in 90 acres of picturesque and rugged farmland with miniature ponies and alpacas dotted across it. The two rooms are spacious and traditionally styled with antiques, wooden floors and lovely views. An idyllic rural hideaway well suited for couples or small groups. See More

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  • Te Koi Lodge Nelson (Mapua) 5 rooms from £500

    Local exploring  -  A superb base from which to discover the Nelson Wine region
    Restaurant  -  Three course gourmet dinners showcase the best local produce and seasonal delicacies
    Birdwatching  -  The Waimea Estuary provide great birdwatching opportunities.
    Views  -  Stunning views across the Waimea Estuary
    Air conditioningTennisRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenViews

    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 heated outdoor swimming pool amid lovely landscaped gardens, and gourmet dining plus award winning wines. Luxurious and indulgent! See More

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