Things to do in...
Cheap and free
- Saturday art & craft market – fresh fruits & veggies, crafts, pottery, clothes, food and local products at Montgomery Square (car-park) from 8am to 1pm.
- Second hand market – Go „op shopping“ on Sunday mornings (at Montgomery Square).
- Movies night – Catch a movie at State Cinema (Trafalgar St). Tuesday night is cheaper!
- Go to the bars and pubs in Nelson and… play a game of pool, attend a Poker Night, join a Quiz Night, listen to Live Music or join a Karaoke Night. Check the events at Rattle and Hum, Liquid NZ Bar, Sprig & Fern
- Cafés – choose any in Nelson, or drive to the Wharf in Mapua or to Cable Bay.
- Swimming – at the ASB Aquatic Centre near Richmond: A really nice heated pool complex with spa pools, sauna, a wave pool, hot showers and a café. Alternative: In town at Riverside Swimming Pool (Riverside Dr).
- Rock climbing – Paynes Ford Rock Climbing at Golden Bay. Practice at The Gravity Well, Bouldering Gym at 37 Wakatu Lane in Nelson
- Cycling or Mountain Biking – borrow a bike from your host family or hire a bike to explore Nelson, e.g. at https://nelsoncyclehire.co.nz/ or https://kiwijourneys.co.nz/.
- Tahunanui Beach – walk, cycle or catch the bus to the beach, there is a lot to do: Stand Up Paddling • Go Karts • Lasertag • Bumper Boats • Super Slide • Public Tennis Court • Natureland Zoo • Mini Golf • Volleyball. Afterwards have fish’n’chips on the beach at sunset
(fish’n’chips shop opposite the beach).
- See a match of Nelson’s Rugby Team, the Tasman Makos, at Trafalgar Park stadium.
- Have a BBQ – at Maitai Valley, Rabbit Island or Tahuna Beach.
- Centre of New Zealand – a short walk up from Botanical Park or from town. You can walk along the hill to Founders Park for a beer or coffee at the café.
- Visit Cable Bay – 15 minute drive/taxi from Nelson to the Cable Bay Adventure Park. Take in the views from their Skywire, go on a quad bike tour or for a game of paint ball. Visit Archery Park. Or drive a further 15 minutes to the Cable Bay Beach for a picnic, swim and the beautiful coastal walk.
- Maitai Valley – walk or picnic beside the river.
- Kaiteriteri – 1 hour drive from Nelson. Beautiful golden beaches. Short drive/walk to the famous Split Apple Rock bay.
- Hire a car for a day or weekend with a group of people and visit some of the greatest places in the region – Mapua, Kaiteriteri, Nelson Lakes, Abel Tasman National Park or Golden Bay – Vineyards, pottery and craft shops on the way.
- Go for a walk – There are lots of ideas and maps for walks around Nelson, e.g. Grampians.
- Walking Art Tour – explore the city’s galleries right in town.
- Nelson Classic Car Museum – near the airport.
- Visit the Nelson Provincial Museum – corner of Trafalgar Street and Hardy Street, check for their changing exhibitions.
- Take a tour of the Pic’s Peanut Butter Factory – bookings are essential and are taking place on weekdays only.
- Visit the Suter Art Gallery – exhibitions from local and national artists. Afterwards you can walk in the Queens Gardens, or have a coffee at the Suter Café (Bridge St).
- Founders Park/ Miyazu Gardens – Go to Founders Heritage Park and enjoy the historical atmosphere and a coffee. Miyazu Japanese Garden is a lovely place for a walk, to relax and read a book and enjoy the sunshine.
- Isel Park in Stoke – Go for a walk or a game of frisbee golf. Enjoy the local food carts on a Thursday evening at the Isel Market.
On the weekends
Nelson is surrounded by stunning National Parks and a unique landscape. Here are just a few of many ideas how to spend your weekend:
- Visit the golden beaches of the Abel Tasman National Park (by foot or boat) or have some leisure days at
- Go hiking on the Queen-Charlotte-Track in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds (maybe combine it with a wine
tour around Blenheim).
- Get to Nelson Lakes National Park and go skiing at Rainbow Ski Area (1.5 hrs from Nelson)
- Explore Kahurangi National Park and maybe do the Heaphy Track.
- Take a plane or a ferry and visit Wellington, New Zealand’s capital.
- Sports Club – soccer, karate, badminton, tennis, gyms, dance classes. For information ask your host family, or visit https://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/regions-nz/nelson-tasman/recreation
- Ultimate Frisbee – Wednesday afternoons 5.30pm at Tahuna touch fields or Sundays 3.00pm at Tahunanui Beach. Social games and anyone is welcome to play. – https://nelson.ultimatecentral.com/
- Tramping Club – if you are active and enjoy walking in the outdoors with a group of people, try a day or weekend tramp with a tramping club: www.nelsontrampingclub.org.nz
- Nelson/Richmond Newcomers Network – Check www.newcomers.co.nz for social events and to connect with others.
- Further sights and activities – Have a look on https://www.nelsontasman.nz/visit-nelson-tasman/things-to-do/
- Join special events in Nelson – Find them on www.itson.co.nz
- Ask your host family for ideas!
Things to eat in Nelson
New Zealand’s bakeries are always a good way to get lunch under $10. Check out the Tasty Tucker Bakery at 40 Bridge Street. Or get a sweet treat from the Swedish Bakery & Cafe in 54 Bridge Street.
Kush, 5 Church Street, just around the corner from our office, coffee roasters and one of the best cafes in town. You can get a cheap (and sweet) eat along with your coffee. Scones, brownies or banana bread are really good. See for yourself!
Red Art Gallery and Café, 1 Bridge Street. Try their scones with your coffee in a creative atmosphere and browse through the shop. Fantastic service and very friendly staff.
Lambretta’s Café Bar, 204 Hardy Street. A local favourite that is always busy and has yummy cabinet food on offer. Try their pancakes for breakfast or a salad for lunch!
YAZA café, situated in Montgomery Square. Breakfast, lunch, coffee or tea and heaps of sweet treats. They have also really good cabinet food and simple affordable lunch options – check it out!
Broccoli Row in 132 Collingwood Street – they do offer more than broccoli. They have gluten free, vegetarian, vegan food on their menu. You can’t go wrong with your decision to grab something there.
For cheap takeaway food, check out Victory Square Fish & Chips, 176 St Vincent Street. This is an award-winning fish & chips shop. Or try Guiseppe’s Fish & Chips just a few buildings down the road at 150 Toi Toi Street. They have cheap fish & chips, burgers and Chinese food on offer.
Milton Street Gourmet Takeaway, 136 Milton Street. They’re making gourmet burgers, fish & chips and pizzas.
It’s extremely affordable to eat at the Indian Cafe, 94 Collingwood Street, at lunch time with curries or try their lunch platter – a selection of curries and rice. We also recommend their take-away menu, which might seem a bit more expensive, but their portions are definitely a decent size.
If you’d like to have a great Pizza, go to Stefano’s Pizzeria, in the cinema or with really nice atmosphere to Bagatto at Morrison Square.
You should try the Sochan Korean cuisine in 157 Hardy Street, it is also just across from our office. You could get rice and salad with your favorite topping like salmon, teriyaki chicken or tofu. You decide!
Look for changing lunch specials at any of the restaurants in Hardy Street!
Try Samko, 105 Hardy St, delicious everyday Asian Meals! An excellent variety of Snacks, Curries, Rice and Noodles to choose from – lunch special.
Nicola’s Cantina, 6 Church Street, a great selection of burritos, tacos and yummy margaritas.
Check out the local food karts at Kirby Lane (off Bridge Street) on a Friday. They have lots of different food options for every taste and a relaxed atmosphere.
To be honest, River Kitchen is not the cheapest place, but you can get really yummy breakfast or lunch at River Kitchen. They just use local, seasonal and sustainable foods. Check it out! It’s right by the Maitai River at 81 Trafalgar Street.
For a smaller lunch such as snacks, check out the Sprig & Fern, 280 Hardy Street. They have garlic bread, curly fries or crispy potatoes.
Ikko Sushi, another great idea for lunch – they are placed in the arcade on 167 Hardy Street, close to our office. Very fresh Sushi, Sashimi and they also offer non-fish-food such as chicken.
Paasha, 161 Hardy Street or Kebab Kitchen, 41 Bridge Street. Both have hot chips, Kebabs and Burgers. Check out their lunch specials!
Looking for a traditional Thai restaurant where Thai chefs prepare every dish from scratch to bring you an authentic, uncompromised taste of Thailand? Then go to Chokdee on 83 Hardy Street, they have lunch specials and good sized takeaway options.
There is also a Thai Food Cart at lunch time on weekdays, right next to the Kiwibank. Very tasty!
Additional info for Nelson
- Adrenalin Forest – a series of rope bridges, Tarzan swings and flying foxes from platforms constructed in the tree canopy.
- Beaches & Coast – Go swimming, have a picnic, walk or cycle along the waterfront, e.g. at Oriental Bay Beach or at Scorching Bay
- Cable Car – Take the historic Wellington Cable Car up to the Botanic Gardens and enjoy the view and the beautiful park.
- Cafés/Restaurants – Wellington is famous for its great cafés and restaurants and also known as the craft beer capital and as for the coffee… it’s legendary.
- Carter Observatory – Go stargazing and check out the amazing planetarium show at the Carter Observatory.
- City Gallery – in the heart of Civic Square, offers world-class exhibitions of contemporary New Zealand and international art.
- City Tour – Go for a ride through Wellington with one of many local companies offering sightseeing tours.
- Cuba Street – Cruise down Cuba Street. Home of hipsters, artists and lovers of vintage. Cuba Street is a bohemian haven with some of the city’s most colourful shops, bars and cafes.
- Embassy Theatre – Go to watch a movie at the Embassy Theatre.
- Indoor Markets – Wellington Underground Market on Saturday mornings is a vibrant market for designers, makers, bakers and crafters. For the very freshest foods – produce and food karts – try the Harbourside Market on Sundays.
- Interislander – Take the ferry from Wellington to Picton and visit the South Island.
- Mount Victoria Lookout – Enjoy the great 360-degree view over Wellington from the top of Mount Victoria.
- Museum of Wellington City and Sea – takes you back a thousand years and leads you to a vibrant present day.
- Te Papa National Museum of NZ – visit the interactive and very interesting famous museum on the waterfront. You can easily spend a whole day here. They have their permanent museum that is admission free and also changing exhibitions that vary.
- The Beehive and Parliament Buildings – The Beehive is the most recognisable building in the parliamentary complex. Book a tour to get a glimpse behind the scenes.
- Top spot for a warming hot chocolate – Warm and creamy hot chocolate can be found at Butlers Chocolate Café on 172 Lambton Quay.
- Walk at the Waterfront – Take a wander around the waterfront to Oriental Bay
- Weta Cave – Get an insight into Wellywood (Wellington’s movie scene) at the Weta Cave in Miramar.
- Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience – Visit Zealandia and see New Zealand’s wildlife as it’s best, including the famous Kiwi birds!
Weekend things to do outside of Wellington
- Wairarapa region (northeast of Wellington), best known for its vineyards and wineries
- A relaxing day trip to the Kapiti Coast, visit some of the cool beaches and sweeping coastlines, perfect for nature-lovers.
- Take a plane or a ferry and visit the South Island; cross the Cook Strait to a little town called Picton (Marlborough region, known for its wines). Weekend jaunts to visit the areas famous wineries or to hike parts of the Queen Charlotte Track but you could also do a ferry-centric day trip to Picton.
- Longer trips (2-3 day trip) from Wellington include scenic Taupo with it’s beautiful Lake Taupo on the North Island, or art-centric Nelson on the South Island.
- Auckland Art Gallery – With over 15,000 artworks, Auckland Art Gallery is home to world-class historic and contemporary displays. Free guided tours are available daily, offering a fantastic introduction to the collections.
- Auckland Harbor – Curise the harbour on a yacht or catch a ferry to the historic seaside town of Devonport.
- Awhitu Peninsula – The restored heritage Manukau Heads Lighthouse sits proudly on the very tip of the Awhitu Peninsula overlooking the turbulent ocean. This lighthouse is one of only a few in New Zealand you can actually climb to the top of. Discover the golden beaches, crystal-clear waters and vast native forests. The walking and tramping here are superb, with forest trails leading you to secluded hot springs, swimming holes, waterfalls and old kauri dams.
- Festivals and Live Music – There are lots of free events on in Auckland throughout the year, from live music and outdoor movies to major cultural events, e.g. the Pasifika Festival, the Auckland Lantern Festival and many more.
- Goat Island – is a protected marine reserve and one of New Zealand’s top snorkeling and dive spots. Swim amongst the colorful fish or take a trip out on a glass bottom boat to view the sea life.
- Great Barrier Island – is the largest and most seaward of the Hauraki Gulf islands in Auckland region. The forests, beaches and bays provide scope for all kinds of wilderness adventures.
- Mount Eden – It is the highest natural point in Auckland. Climb on the volcano and it offers stunning 360-degree views of the city.
- Muriwai Beach – View the huge gannet colony at stunning Muriwai Beach, where over 1200 pairs of gannets nest on the rugged cliff tops. There are two viewing platforms so you can get up close.
- Otara Market – It is the world largest Polynesian market on a Saturday.
- Piha Beach – Piha is one of the most popular beaches on Auckland’s west coast. The wild surf at Piha Beach draws seasoned surfers and it’s also a great swimming spot in summer.
- Stardome Observatory and Planetarium – the sky of the Southern Hemisphere contains beautiful star clusters, gas cloud nebulae and star patterns that can only be seen from this latitude.
- Take a walk – Auckland has a huge number of walking trails throughout the region, from leafy tracks through native bush to energetic hikes with magnificent views – there’s something for every mood and fitness level.
- The Sky Tower in Auckland – Enjoy the breathtaking view from Auckland’s famous Sky Tower. You can walk around the pergola at SkyWalk or take a controlled free-fall to ground level at SkyJump.
- Waitakere Ranges – Discover a flourishing subtropical rainforest just 40 minutes from the city. The Waitakere Ranges are a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, with surfing, swimming, fishing, walking, picnicking and camping. Stop off at Titirangi village, the gateway to the regional park, for great Kiwi art, markets and a coffee at a local café.
Weekend things to do outside of Auckland
Visit Matakana farmers market on a Saturday, then try the delicious organic ice-cream from the shop on the corner.
Visit the Reptile Park in Ti Point, then get something to eat from the Leigh Fish and Chip Shop and enjoy it looking out towards Goat Island. Finally, duck into Leigh Sawmill Café for a coffee before you drive home.
If you want a nice day out, then head South to Ambury Farm. Spend a day exploring this working farm complete with cows, chooks, peacocks and heaps of other farm animals. Then on the way home jump back in time at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway where you can check out real, working, vintage trains.
Head east and visit the historic Orere Point and explore the archaeological sites concentrated around the Tapapakanga Stream and along the coastal strip, including three Maori pa. Then head back to Kawakawa Bay for a swim and picnic at Snakes Gully before visiting Turanga Creek Winery in Clevedon to pick up a bottle or two of their organic wine for a relaxing night at home.
Have a nosy around more than 250km of native bush that make up the beautiful Waitakere Ranges before heading down to Muriwai Beach for a BBQ. On the way back to town, check out the Arataki Visitor Centre for some of the most stunning views over Manukau Harbour.
Rangitoto Island is an explorer’s paradise. After jumping off the ferry, you can climb the summit (either by leg power or the nifty tractor-pulled road train), explore the lava caves, and do a spot of bird-watching or just chill out by the water with a picnic lunch.