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Beautiful Nelson is widely known for its high sunshine hours and rich history – it’s the second oldest European-settled city in New Zealand and the oldest in the South Island. Along with early Maori settling in the area around 700 years ago, the Nelson region and city has earned its place as a thriving economic, cultural and historic centre. Nelson is nicknamed “Sunny Nelson” because of its average annual total of 2,400 hours of sunshine.
Nelson can also claim to be the centre of attention; it is stated that the point “zero, zero” from the country’s first trigonometrical surveys indicate that the “geographical centre of New Zealand” lies on a hilltop (Botanical Hill) near the centre of the city of Nelson. Though more modern surveys proved the true centre to lie elsewhere, a marker stands as a symbol of the first surveys and subsequent ‘centre’.
Nelson English Centre is a great place to learn English. There are also a number of other programmes and tertiary education providers in the region, ensuring there are plenty of students to meet and make friends with. Nelson locals are friendly and talkative, so you’ll always have people to talk to and practise your English with. The city itself is easy to navigate, with an easily accessible central business district, tree-lined streets, and high quality bus and taxi services.
Nelson is surrounded by three beautiful National Parks – Mount Richmond Forest Park, Kahurangi National Park and Abel Tasman National Park. Each has their own unique beauty and great activities to experience. All National Parks in New Zealand are protected by the Department of Conservation and are open to the public to enjoy in a respectful manner.
Branford Reserve and Botanical Hill have a number of great walks that cater for everyone. Botanical Hill is especially important to Nelson’s history as it is the home of the marker indicating what was first thought to be the centre of New Zealand, as mentioned above. There’s information there about the first surveys done in the area. During the warmer months, take your togs (bathing suit) and have a swim at “Black Hole” on the eastern side of the hill.
Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa are the two lakes within the Nelson Lakes National Park – a stunning area to visit any time of year. Clear waters and beautiful bush land are sure to leave you speechless as you explore the region at your own pace.
Nelson is an unofficial artists’ mecca. More than 350 artists and craftspeople live and work in Nelson, many with studios and galleries where the public is welcome to appreciate their exquisite works. From Maori art and carving, to traditional and contemporary, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. It’s no wonder that with all this creative energy in the area that the World of Wearable Art and Classic Cars Museum calls Nelson home. Amazing works of wearable art are showcased from the annual WOW awards (which began in Nelson in 1987), as well as a collection of rare and classic collection of cars – a must see for lovers of art, fashion and cars.
The Abel Tasman National Park is a premier New Zealand kayaking destination. Take a tour or hire a kayak for your own adventure, and experience for yourself the splendour of the area. Its sheltered bays, sandy beaches and clear lagoons are ideal for those who are less confident on or in the water. Other great water activities in the region include sailing, boating, fishing and taking wildlife tours to see fur seals and dolphins – even getting the chance to swim with them!
If you prefer staying on land, there are hundreds of hiking and biking trails suitable for all experience levels around Nelson and the surrounding National Parks. Take a relaxing day trip or a 2-5 day trek through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.
The legal age for the purchase and consumption of alcohol in New Zealand is 18, so anyone over this age can sample the products of the passionate winemakers and brewers in the region. Because of its wonderful weather, the Nelson area is a favourite for winemakers and their vineyards. Many producers offer tours and tastings and love teaching people about their unique production processes.
Are you studying in Nelson or have you visited this wonderful region? We’d love to hear about your awesome experiences in a comment below!