Things to do in...
Cheap and free
- Saturday art & craft market – fresh fruits & veggies, arts, 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 (e.g. at Rattle and Hum), attend a Poker Night (Liquid NZ Bar on Tuesdays), join a Quiz Night (e.g. at Sprig & Fern on Wednesdays in Winter), listen to Live Music (e.g. at Sprig & Fern, weekends) or join a karaoke night (at the Little Rock on Wednesdays).
- Cafés – choose any in Nelson, or drive to Jester House in Tasman or the Cable Bay Café.
- Swimming – at the ASB Aquatic Centre near Richmond: A really nice heated pool complex with spa pools, 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.
- 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. 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 or on Rabbit Island.
- Centre of New Zealand – a short walk up from Botanical Park or town. You can walk along the hill to Founders Park for a beer or coffee at the café.
- Visit Cable Bay – 20 minute drive/taxi from Nelson. Picnic, swim and coastal walk.
- Maitai Valley – walk or picnic beside the river.
- Kaiteriteri – 45 minute drive from Nelson. 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 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 – get ideas and a map from the information centre.
- World of Wearable Art and Classic Cars Museum – near the airport.
- Visit the Nelson Provincial Museum – corner of Trafalgar Street and Hardy Street.
- Visit Fairfield House – a historic home at the very end of Trafalgar Street.
- Take a free tour of Pics Peanut Butter Factory – four tours a day, takes place from 9am, Monday to Friday and lasts up to 55 mins (bookings are essential).
- Visit Suter Art Gallery – free on Saturdays – has 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. Miyazu Japanese Gardens is a lovely place for a walk, to relax and read a book and enjoy the sunshine.
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. It’s free! – https://nelson.ultimatecentral.com/
- Tramping Club – if you are active and enjoy walking in the outdoors try a day or weekend tramp with a tramping club:
- Nelson/Richmond Newcomers Network – Check www.newcomers.co.nz for social events and to connect with others.
- Volunteer groups – ask at the Nelson Volunteer Centre, www.volunteernelson.org.nz
- 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!
For free bookings and advice come and see our friendly team. We can book almost anything in whole New Zealand for you!
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 right in front of our office, offers one of the best coffees 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!
Pomeroy’s Coffee & Tea House, 105 Montgomery Square, has a creative blend of flavors for coffee and tea lovers to go along with their cakes and biscuits.
YAZA café, situated in Montgomery Square. Breakfast, lunch, coffee or tea and heaps of sweet treats. French Fries with aioli or tomato sauce for $7.50 or Deep Fried Potatoes topped with sour cream & sweet chilli sauce for $10.00. They have also really good cabinet food– check it out!
Di Pierris Café, this café in 19 Buxton Square is also very nice! You can get coffee, breakfast & lunch – some people said their lasagna is to die for. Their food looks amazing.
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 joint with similarly cheap fish & chips.
Milton Street Gourmet Takeaway, 136 Milton Street. They’re taking around $10 for burgers and fish & chips. Pizzas are a tiny bit more expensive but still very good with $10-$12.50 for a 7 incher.
You’ll find similar at Seabreeze Takeaways, 51 Vanguard Street, which also do stuffed potatoes for a maximum of $9.
It’s extremely affordable to eat at the Indian Cafe, 94 Collingwood Street, at lunch time with curries priced around $10 including their lunch platter – a selection of curries and rice. Sides and naans will take you over the $10 but are all still cheap. We also recommend checking out their take-away menu, which takes you over the $10 mark but is definitely reasonable with curries around $16.50.
If you’d like to have a great Pizza, go to Stefano’s Pizzeria, just next to the cinema or with really nice atmosphere in Morrison Square. The menu starts from $8 and it’s really yummy!
You should try the Sochan Korean cuisine in 57 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! The menu starts from $10.
Either at the Noodle Canteen in 93 Hardy St where they prepare your meal right in front of you. It’s nice to see the fresh, high quality ingredients for yourself. Rice Dishes, Soup Based Noodles or Wok Tossed Noodle with Vegetables, Chicken, Seafood, whatever you like.
Or you can also go to Samko, 105 Hardy St, delicious everyday Asian Meals! An excellent variety of Snacks, Curries, Rice and Noodles to choose from – lunch special for $6.
Nicola’s Cantina, 6 Church Street, just next to our office, here you can get tacos for $9. As for the rest of their menu, you’ll find meals at a reasonable $11-$26.
The Original Baked Potatoes Ltd from Spuddy good food on Trafalgar Street outside the ASB Bank – for around $10 you can get a yummy potato with your favorite toppings. Check it out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spuddygoodfood/
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 food which comes from a farm close by. Check it out! It’s behind the I-site in 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 for under $10.
Ikko Sushi, another great idea for lunch – they are placed in the arcade on 167 Hardy Street, close to our office. The menu starts from $5 and they make it fresh just for you. Sushi, Sashimi, and anything else. But they also offer non-fish-food such as chicken.
Paasha, 161 Hardy St, Nelson 7010, close to our office. Hot chips for $6, Kebabs for $12-18 and Burgers for $15. They do have lunch specials with fries and a can of drink of your choice.
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 from $12.50 which is really cheap for what you get.
At TONG TARA on 142 Hardy St you also get lunch specials starting from $8 and curries for about $12.
There is also a Thai Food Car at lunchtime, right next to the kiwi bank. The menu starts from $10.
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, picnicking, walk or cycle along the waterfront, e.g. at Oriental Bay Beach or at the Scorching Bay
- Cable Car – Take the historic Wellington Cable Car up to the Botanic Garden and enjoy the view and the beautiful Garden.
- Cafés / Restaurants – Wellington is famous for its great cafés and restaurants, Wellington is 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 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 see a movie at the Embassy Theatre.
- Indoor Markets – Wellington Underground Market on Saturdays is a vibrant market for designers, makers, bakers and crafters. The very freshest foods try the City Market and Harbour side 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 lead you to a vibrant present day.
- Te Papa National Museum of NZ – visit the interactive and very interesting famous museum on the waterfront. Free Admission!
- The Beehive and Parliament Buildings – The Beehive is the most recognisable building in the parliamentary complex.
- Top spots for a warming hot Chocolate – Warm and creamy hot chocolate can be found at Butlers Chocolate Café on Willis Street.
- Walk at the Waterfront – Take a wander around the waterfront to Oriental Bay
- Wellington City Library – Central Library (next to Civic Square) is Wellington’s largest library.
- Weta Cave – Get an insight into Wellywood (Wellington’s movie business) 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
- Relaxing day trip to the Kapiti Coast (or Golden Coast), this is a fast-growing area consisting of beaches and sweeping coastlines for nature-lover.
- Take a plane or a ferry and visit the South Island; cross the Cook Strait to the South Island Port is 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 on the North Island, or art-centric Nelson on the South Island.
For free bookings and advice come and see our friendly team. We can book almost anything in whole New Zealand for you!
- 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 island’s 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.
- 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 age 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, 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 Cafe for a coffee before the drive home.
If you want a nice and close 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 ride 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 Winery in Clevedon to pick up a bottle or two of their organic wine for a relaxing night at home.
Have a nosy around the more than 250km of native bush that make up the beautiful Waitakere Ranges before heading down to Muriwai Beach for a BBQ – they have them onsite. On the way back to town, check out the Arataki Visitor Centre for some of the most stunning views over Manukau Harbour. And if you can swing by Swanson, you have to check out Crystal Mountain – West Auckland’s very own animal and theme park!
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.