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Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, London….Nelson?

Rebekah Joy
Rebekah Joy
Haulashore Island

New Zealand after thirteen years away was daunting enough. I wanted to go to Christchurch or Wellington, but my Aussie partner had other ideas…Nelson or nothing.

So here we are in my hometown of little old Nelson, and I got to admit….its not bad…….ask me again in winter….but for now it’s pretty good.

Beneath the colourful flower baskets that decorate the shop fronts, it seems things have changed.........

We were lucky enough to arrive when the Sealord Summer Festival was in full swing. A whirlwind of events culminating in the opera in the park are scheduled daily until mid March. The weather as always has been near perfect, meaning my partner goes fly fishing when ever he can.

The one thing I would warn about are the tenuous parking attendants. Gone are the days when a minute or two lof tardiness meant a smack on the wrist. No these ladies are armed with cameras and all kinds of things, just dying to give you a fine.

Some of my own Nelson favourites:

Cable Bay Café: Open seasonally Cable Bay Café is a cutesy Kiwi café located in the wilds of Cable Bay.

Zatori Chocolate Boutique:  A great place for a hot chocolate when the sun goes down. Located on the corner of Trafalgar and Hardy Streets, Zatori has selection of divine homemade chocolates made daily. The owner is really nice and often lets you sample some of the chocolates. The berry one is awesome.

Fish and Chips at the Haven:
Yum yum, fish and chips may have gone up since I was a girl but the quality hasn’t changed much. Pick some up and eat them on the wharf behind. If you’re lucky you’ll see some of the international cargo ships coming in and out. Be warned the seagulls are furious.

Jesters Café: Technically Tasman, Jesters is a great place to stop on the way to Motueka, Kaiteriteri, Marahau or Golden Bay. The garden café is organic (check out the composting toilets), the food is all locally sourced but the highlight is probably the eels. For $2 you can buy a pottle of mince meat and go and feed the slithering beasts. I’ve done it a million times and still enjoy it.

Haulashore Island Ferry (03) 5471248 Mobile:(027) 4375259 is a fun activity. Take the boat one way to the Boulder Bank. Explore the lighthouse (a key is available from the marine authority board) and walk to the other end. It takes near on four hours to complete but gives an inverted look at Nelson, windswept rocks and marine life and the old bachs (holiday homes) that were erected there. You will have to organize your own transport out at the other end.

Flea Market: Whoops, gone are the days that you can call the posh Nelson market the flea market. But that’s where the humble origins began and many locals still dare to call it this. Every Saturday morning the local car park becomes a haven for talented artists and foodies. Pick up a bargain, buy some local art or sample a wide array of international and local cuisine.

House of Ales Quiz Night  (03) 548 4220: The House of Ales at the top end of Trafalgar Street has a popular quiz night every Tuesday. Table bookings recommended, try to be there by 7pm.

Rainbow Ski field: Skiing is God’s way of making winter bearable. Open from early July until the end of October, Rainbow ski field is a family ski field an hour and a half from Nelson.

Marahau / Able Tasman: What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Great national park, awesome beach activities including kayaking and ferries through out the park.  Marahau is at the base of the Abel Tasman and is a laid back seaside community. The Arts Unique Sculpture Park has some very interesting local art as well as resident artists who are only too happy to let you wander around. They also have a guided tour on a hand carved Waka (Maori canoe) that is very reasonably priced. The café opposite has great drinks and cakes for weary trampers.

There are a few shorter walks, Marahau to Apple Tree Bay is a couple of hours one way, or you can take a ferry from Kaiteriteri or Marahau and walk back.  I usually stay at Old Macdonalds Farm and Holiday Park which has camping grounds, barbecues, natural fresh water swimming holes, farm land, relaxing bush walks, a farm park, an al fresco style cafe on site, Llama and Alpaca and lots of other animals.

Golden Bay: Gateway to alternate lifestyles, yoga retreats and um..... golden beaches. Golden Bay has something for everyone as long as they like a quieter pace of life. The Muscel Inn at Onekaka is a must as they have a big bonfire and live entertainment most weekends.  Opposite them is the environmentally friendly Shambahala Backpackers. Set in amongst sculptured gardens and its own private beach front access, it puts other budget accommodation to shame. .

Regulars to Golden Bay rave about Wharariki Beach. There is 20 minute trek through farmland to the windswept coast but once there, visitors are often entreated to seals or baby seal cubs playing by the rocks. Farewell Spit is another popular tourist attraction for humans and whales alike. In fact Farewell Spit has seen several tragic whale standings in the past. There are just two tour companies that are permitted to take tourists along the sandbanks although independent travelers are allowed to walk around the start of the reserve.

There is something to do nearly every night in Nelson. I'll update the list as I find stuff but here is what I have at the moment

Monday Evenings: Not much, as far as I know everyone stays at home.

Tuesday Evenings: House of ales Quiz Night (7.30pm. $2 cover). Poker night at Liquid Bar (7.30pm. Free but it costs $5). Cheap night at the cinema ($10 instead of $13. It is also only $10 every evening if you go before 5pm) The Vic Mac Bar (previously known as the Victorian Rose) has live Jazz. The Rocks 623 has $10 Thai Tuesdays. Nelson Dance Studio have $5 Tango lessons

Wednesday Evenings: Sprig and Fern Quiz night (7.30pm. $3 cover). Poker night at the Nelson Suburban Club (7.30pm. Free but costs $5)

Thursday Evenings: Poker night at Club Waimea in Richmond (7.30pm. Free but costs $5)

Friday Evenings: Pub Olympics at the Nelson Sports Cafe (Games and such from 6-9pm). Founders Park have a local farmers market (2-7pm free entry)

Saturdays: The Nelson Market (Flea Market) in the Montgomery Carpark

Sundays: The carboot sale in the Montgomery carpark

My advice for any new comers or people staying in Nelson is to check the Leader. It’s a free paper and is packed full of community projects and events. From rock to mineral clubs, tramping clubs, no dig workshops, tango lessons, Kendo classes, smallbore rifle lessons to  roller discos and playgroups, the Leader has it all listed.

Relatively new is the slick magazine Wild Tomato (the magazine is way more comprehensive than the website) which showcases local restaurants and cafes, events and places to go. It’s a great magazine, I don’t know how such a small town produces such great stuff, but I guess thats why I'm learning to love Nelson all over again!

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