This weekend we set off to discover another amazing and one of my top favourite places in the world - I could compare it to "the Mediterranean of the Pacific" - the Tasman Nelson region with its amazing landscapes and beaches, and its cultural and economic hub, Sunny Nelson.
Nelson is a charming little city on the “top” of the South Island, and also the geographical centre of New Zealand. It has one of the best climates in the country with plenty of sunshine and clear blue skies. The yearly average of 2400 sunny hours contributes significantly to the absolutely relaxed and laid back atmosphere here.
Wander along the main street, Trafalgar Street, and enjoy the small town atmosphere. Many people will say hi and smile at you. :) Pass by some signature shops and interesting buildings, such as the four-faced Civic House clock tower, the gateway edifice of the city, or the local museum, the Nelson Provincial Museum where you can learn a lot about the region's history.
Nelson, Trafalgar, you might wonder... Yes, it's all history. The famous Battle of Trafalgar of 1805, when the British Navy victoriously defeated the French and Spanish ships during the Napoleonic wars. And Admiral Nelson, hence becoming one of the most famous war heroes of Britain. The names of the street and the city, as well as a special marble sculpture all pay tribute to this victory.
Nelson's recent history actually dates back to 1841 when the first colony ships from London arrived, with some early settlers to set ground here, making it the oldest settled city in the South Island. But if you travel back even more in time, it seems like the earliest Maori settlements originate from around this region in all New Zealand, too, some 700 years ago!
Walking by Elliott Street, you wander along unmistakable white heritage villas and stylish verandas from the 1860s to the 1940s, all part of Nelson’s first government-funded and only artisan housing development. 31 houses are under protection as heritage buildings here, meaning any alteration or demolition requires a special consent or notification. A nice way to conserve a piece of the past.
Another fly back in time is definitely in picturesque South Street though, New Zealand’s oldest and fully preserved street. The cottages date here from 1863! The once homes of local tradesmen went through a beautiful facelift when a new generation recognised their historic value... The colourful rooftops, the painted windows, the hills, the palms, the ferns, the spring flowers, the tranquil atmosphere make you feel like you are part of a movie setting from the last century...
If you feel like taking a bit of Nelson home, the cute pottery shop on the corner has a big collection of local art. There is so much creative energy in the air, no wonder, the spectacular landscapes offer such a great inspiration everywhere you look.
Talking about creativity... Did you know that the famous ring from the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies was designed here? Jens Hansen's Gallery showcases some of the models right in the middle of the town! There were actually more than 40 variations made for the films in order to fit every little or big finger. :)
Nelson combines art and nature in such a fascinating way. If you like classical Victorian style parks, do not miss the elegant Queens Gardens - there are plenty of old trees, sculptures and a beautiful little bridge with a pond to feed ducks. Perfect pastime with kids. :)
Continue your walk along the river to unwind and relax even more. Smell the fresh air, the blossoming spring. Watch the birds sing and play in the stream, gaze at happy doggies run by. Life is simple, life is good.
To enjoy the best views in town, head up the stairs to the Christ Church Cathedral, sit back, let the sun caress your face while you listen to the sounds of a guitar. Almost like Montmartre in Paris...
If you happen to feel like you are in the beach mood, no problem. Nelson has probably one of the best beaches as far as a city can get. :)
Tahunanui with its beautiful, wide pathways and golden sandy shores, shallow, protected waters by the Boulder Bank, and fascinating vistas for a romantic evening sunset definitely is the place to be if you are a beach bum. And right next to the city!
Spring was definitely in the air...
The cherry trees were in full bloom in the Miyazu Garden, a little piece of Japan named after Nelson's sister city. A place of contemplation, peace and tranquility embraced by the beautiful pink-white petals and the calming sound of the water in the pond. Just. So. Truly. Zen.
The amazing turquoise green-blue colors of the Tasman Bay, the fascinating green, occasionally snow-capped mountains on the horizon, the blossoming spring flowers and cherry trees, the splendid sunshine and the soft breeze playing with your hair - just a perfect place to recharge your body and soul...
Sunny Nelson, we will be back!
P.S.: Did I tell you that the Nelson Arts Festival is soon on?? :)
If you liked this post and want to discover more about this beautiful region, please click here to visit
the Abel Tasman Natural Park. :)
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