Things to do in Nelson
Nelson has a lot to offer for everyone. There's a great variety of outdoor activities and art & culture that could keep you busy for months. We have listed some suggestions below and if you choose to go with an operator, they'll usually pick you up and drop you off at the hostel for free. We also have hiking gear for hire if you choose to go for an overnight hike in the Abel Tasman for example.
Be sure to check out our free Nelson day tours.
Every Saturday Nelson is having a market at Montgomery Square in the city centre (behind Rebel Sports). You can buy local produce like veges, fruits, handmade foods, crafts, gifts or just enjoy the buzzing atmosphere while having a coffee. The market starts at 8am and ends around 1-2pm.
World of WearableArt™ & Classic Car Museum, Nelson
The World of WearableArt Awards Show is an annual event now held in Wellington (September) where garment designers from all over the world compete for the best costume. The Show has it's origins in Nelson and the WOW© Museum displays many garments from past shows as well as a collection of classic cars.
Art Galleries & Crafts
Nelson is famous for it's creative community an many artist display their art and crafts in galleries and shops. You'll find painters, sculptors, glassblowers, potters, jewellers and woodworkers all around Nelson.
Art Galleries: Art@203, Equilibrium, The Suter, Refinery, Red Art Gallery to name a few
Are you in for a little adrenaline rush? Then a tandem Skydive from 12,000 or 13,000 feet is the experience you're looking for! Enjoy the freefall while gazing down to the stunning Tasman Bay scenery! Check out Skydive Nelson, they also put your screaming on video if you wish.
- Horse Riding
Discover the Nelson area on the back of a horse. Ride through pristine bush, forests rivers and lakes and experience New Zealand's beautiful nature. Multi day horse treks are also available. Stonehurst Farm, Western Ranges Horse Treks, Happy Valley Horse Trekking
- Mountain Biking
There a many great mountain bike tracks in the Nelson area. You'll find short tracks and multi day tracks through rainforest, farmland, ridges and coastal regions for all levels of fitness. Try Biking Nelson and Abel Tasman Mountainbiking for guided tours.
- Hiking / Trekking
The Nelson area is famous for some outstanding walks like the Abel Tasman Coastal Track and the Heaphy Track which are each one of New Zealand's Great Walks. But Nelson itself has some really nice day walks that let you discover the city and it's surroundings by foot (including the Centre of New Zealand).
Nelson and the Westland Regions are renown to have some of the best rock climbing in the country. One of the most popular rock climbing areas is Paynes Ford in Golden Bay. If you like to train indoors stop by at the Vertical Limits Indoor Climbing Centre in Nelson.
- Sea Kayaking
Explore the golden beaches of the Abel Tasman National Park in a seakayak on over 50km shoreline. Half day, full day and overnight trips are available and can be combined with hiking. Seals, dolphins and penguins can be spotted regularly. (Kaiteriteri Kayaks, Seakayak Company, Golden Bay Kayaks)
Another great kayak tour is available at Cable Bay with Pepin Island and it's caves. Cable Bay Kayaks has guided Eco tours along Nelson's Marine reserve where seals, dolphins and seabirds appear frequently (season depending). Cable Bay is only 15 min by car from Nelson city centre.
- Kite Surfing
If you're keen on kite surfing - Nelson is definitely the place to start. The Tahunanui beach is a great playground to learn kite surfing and already hosted the New Zealand Nationals. Try the Kiteschool which is also offering lessons in German (and sometimes even more languages) or Kite Surf Nelson to get started.
Nelson is famous for it's great sailing grounds. Nelson has the most sunshine hours in New Zealand and we are settled in the warm and protected waters of the Tasman Bay which is only a stonethrow away from the Abel Tasman. If you'd like to learn sailing, Sail Nelson offers sailing courses for everyone. If you rather have a ride with chartered tour try the Penelope or Abel Tasman Sailing Adventures. As an experienced sailor you could also charter a yacht by your own.
Fishing is a very popular leisure activity in Nelson. Saltwater fishing in New Zealand is free and can be done from the shore (surf casting) or by boat. Common fish are Snapper, Kawhai, Blue Cod and Shark. Popular spots in Nelson are at the Backbeach, along Rocks Road and the port.
Freshwater fishing is a big sport in NZ, especially fly fishing (Trout & Salmon) and possible in many rivers around Nelson but it requires a license (valid nationwide) from Fish & Game which can be purchased online or in local stores like Fishing & Hunting.
Nelson's marine reserve is buzzing with life and is a great snorkeling and scuba diving area.
The Marlborough Sounds are just around the corner and very popular. If you'd like to make a scuba diving course or hire gear, try Big Blue in Nelson.
- Paragliding & Hang gliding
See the Tasman region from a different perspective. Tandem and solo paragliding / hang gliding options are available and no experience is needed for tandem flights. (Tasman Sky Adventures, Cumulus Paragliding)
Whiter water rafting can be done in Murchison
on rafts and kayaks with Ultimate Descents.
Our Free Nelson Day tours
Leaving daily at 9.30am
See us at the reception to make your free booking! All tours subject to change to suit weather conditions. Minimum 4 persons. You join at your own risk - high heels not recommended.