Aerial View Nelson
Aerial View Nelson / iStock / BluesandViews
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Theatre Royale
Theatre Royale / Schwede66
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Kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park
Kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park / iStock / BluesandViews
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Historic Anchor Shipping and Foundry Building
Historic Anchor Shipping and Foundry Building / iStock / BluesandViews
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1937 Cord Westchester Sedan at the World of WearableArt and Classic Cars Museum
1937 Cord Westchester Sedan at the World of WearableArt and Classic Cars Museum / Jane Nearing
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Totoranui Beach
Totoranui Beach / iStock / CreativeNature_nl
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Nelson, New Zealand

Our Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

Located at the top of the South Island, Nelson mixes bygone charm and the great outdoors. It's a thoroughly laid-back city with people who cherish good food, great wine, and the sunniest skies in all of New Zealand.

What We Love

Theatre Royal: Erected in 1878 when Nelson was still part of the British Empire, this classic provincial playhouse presents a broad array of concerts, dance, opera, Broadway revivals, comedy, and children's shows.

The Great Taste Trail: Starting from downtown Nelson, this network of biking and hiking trails leads past restaurants and microbreweries, roadside fruit stands, and fancy vineyards.

Best Known For

Water Adventures: Whether it's sailing on Tasman Bay or kayaking the coves of nearby Abel Tasman National Park, the area offers plenty of scope for aquatic recreation.

Artful Clothing: Since the launch of the World of WearableArt (WOW) design competition in 1987, Nelson has become a global center for clothing that doubles as artwork, and the WOW Museum is one of the city's leading attractions.

Who It's Best For

Outdoor Junkies: Even if water sports aren't your “cuppa,” Nelson boasts plenty of other ways to bask beneath its copious blue skies, from guided hiking and wine country tours to zip lines, quad-bike safaris, wind-carting, helibiking, and horseback riding.

Foodies: The region's tasty blend of gourmet restaurants, farmer's markets, and wineries makes this a perfect spot to sample New Zealand's incredible combination of fine wines and farm-to-table cuisine.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

It's Pretty Dead After Dark: Other than restaurants, brewpubs, and the Theatre Royal, Nelson doesn't boast an awful lot of nightlife.

The Waterfront Isn't Picturesque: Unlike Auckland and Wellington, don't expect a drop-dead gorgeous panoramic sailing into Nelson Harbour.