48 hour Guide to Nelson Tasman
Known as a hub for creatives and growers, an enviable number of sunshine days per annum, and glorious beaches and national parks to explore, Nelson Tasman is a favourite holiday destination for many. But if you don’t have more than a couple of days up your sleeve, it’s still possible to cram in many of the best experiences the region has to offer. A visit of any length to the sunshine capital of Aotearoa will leave you feeling recharged. With our guide at hand, you’ll be able to relax while ticking off some of the highlights around town.
Breakfast at Hardy St Eatery
136 Hardy Street, Nelson
Begin your day in the beautiful, light-filled space of Hardy St Eatery. All of your senses will be taken care of here. Expect a hard-to-beat brunch menu filled with house-made sourdoughs, preserves and self-smoked fish, alongside a perfectly crafted coffee or mimosa to celebrate the start of your mini-holiday.
Montgomery Square, Nelson
If you happen to find yourself in town on a Saturday, then a visit to the famous Nelson Market is a must. An ensemble of multi-coloured tents covers Montgomery Square once a week, displaying the best produce, crafts and art from the wider Nelson Tasman region.
Arts fix at Hot Clay - Kiln Gallery , flamedaisy and Parker Gallery
Various locations around Nelson
Once you’ve taken in all the wonderful arts and crafts at the market, it’s time to continue on an art trail and dive deep into the pulsating heart of Nelson’s creative scene.
Zigzag your way up towards Trafalgar Square, where you’ll find the extravagant flamedaisy glass design gallery and studio. Everything here is hand-blown by artist Anthony Genet, and no two pieces are alike. Take in the stunning colours and forms, from drinking vessels to huge neon light art. During the summer you might get lucky and catch glassblowing in action.
Next in line is a weave back to Hardy St towards the marvellous celebration of ceramics at Hot Clay - Kiln Gallery. Hand-built and wheel-thrown pieces from vases to artworks and beautifully made quotidian necessities such as bowls and cups, adorn the shelves and tables in this modest gallery. On top of clay-made objects, Kiln Gallery also exhibits paintings, wood and metal works, jewellery and stone art.
Last, but not least, the final destination of this little art tour is located a couple of blocks further towards the Maitai river. Parker Gallery represents the best original art works by local Nelson Tasman and New Zealand artists. A mix of mediums such as original paintings, sculpture, ceramics and glass can be appreciated here.
Lunch at Bobby Franks
40 Tasman Street, The Wood, Nelson
By now, you’ve surely worked off that delicious breakfast and it’s time to refuel again. Since you’re already close to the river, jump on the Maitai River walkway and enjoy a touch of nature within the city centre as you make your way towards Bobby Franks café (cross over at Collingwood St or make it a longer walk by strolling all the way to Bridge St). At Bobby Franks you’ll find yourself among locals sipping a cuppa or stopping by for grab-and-go food; it’s a great spot for people watching and delicious kai. An all-day-brunch-menu offers café classics with a twist, and coffee is brewed with self- roasted Soul Arch beans.
The Suter Art Gallery
208 Bridge Street, Nelson
After lunch, it’s back to the business of art appreciation. Return towards the river and make your way past Queen’s Gardens to Suter Art Gallery. One of the oldest galleries in Aotearoa, the original 19th century building was architecturally added onto in 2016, and it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the structure itself. A contemporary gallery, theatre, education space, café and store, there is much to discover at the Suter.
Retail therapy at Global Soap, Palm Boutique, Trouble and Fox Boutique
Various locations in Nelson
Reward yourself after all that art appreciation and indulge in a bit of retail therapy at some of the best shopping spots in Nelson.
A one-stop-shop for all your personal hygiene needs, Global Soap is all about products that are kind to the earth as well as your skin. Everything on display has been hand-made on the premises by the owner-operators, so on top of buying sustainably, you’ll also be supporting a small family business while adding a touch of style to your bathroom.
For serious fashion lovers, Palm Boutique is a must visit while in town. The store boasts a wide selection of home-grown New Zealand labels and carefully selected international brands. Although it sits neatly in the high-end scale of the fashion world, there are items for various budgets in-store too.
Down a little hidden alleyway, you’ll find Trouble and Fox Boutique – a petite fashion shop filled with tastefully curated apparel for women and men. The store supports New Zealand labels such as Ruby and ThingThing, and spices things up with international brands including Paloma Wool, Assembly Label, and Veja.
Stormy’s Man Cave
69 Montgomery Square (Near Penguinos & Robert Harris) Nelson
Perhaps a bit of a tidy up of the ol’ mop is at hand or maybe your boyfriend’s beard is getting a tad shabby – if so, point your nose to the famous Stormy’s Man Cave. Located up a few steep steps on the edge of Montgomery Square (yes, where you started in the morning at the market), Stormy’s delivers the best cuts and hot lather straight-blade shaves in downtown Nelson. Even if you’re not after a cut, it’s worth poking your nose in to appreciate this unique space, and to browse through the shaving supplies and beard oils available for purchase.
Beer at The Free House and Records at Family Jewels Records
95 Collingwood Street, Nelson
Now that you’re looking all spick and span, it’s time for a craft beer and a flick through some LPs. The Free House is a favourite after-work-beer-spot for Nelsonians. Choose from a huge variety of craft beers, and find a place along one of the many beer garden tables outside to soak in the atmosphere. In the beer garden, you’ll also find Family Jewels Records, a specialty record store where vinyl enthusiasts are sure to discover a find or two.
Dinner at Arden
216 Hardy Street, Nelson
Surely it’s time to eat again — you’re on holiday after all! Sit down for dinner at the wonderful Arden. Whether you’re starving or after just a little something to fill in a gap, you’ll find just the right size of meal from the food menu. Accompany your dinner of choice, with a local drop of wine and your taste buds will thank you once more.
Nightcap at Kismet Cocktail and Whisky Bar
151 Hardy Street, Nelson
Wrap up the day with a nightcap at Kismet. This world-class cocktail and whisky bar will transport you to a bygone era of class and sophistication. Expect bespoke drinks, graceful service and comfy nooks to settle in for the rest of the evening.
Well rested and Nelson well covered, it’s time to explore all that Tasman has to offer. Hop in your vehicle and head North to Motueka. With a mere half an hour drive between the two destinations, it’s easy to make it a day-trip to discover the Tasman area, even if your accommodation is back in the city.
Breakfast at Bloom Café
208 High Street, Motueka
Find a table in the lush garden of Bloom Café in downtown Motueka. Set back from the main road, this peaceful setting has all that an urban oasis requires. Choose something to get you going for the day from the brunch menu and recharge with great coffee. Browse through a selection of local products and crafts for sale inside before departing.
Moutere Artisans and Wineries
Various locations Moutere
Moutere is known as home to a bunch of creative and productive people. Drive along the main highway and you can’t miss signs pointing you to workshops and galleries, artisan food makers (think cheeses, sausages and the like) and various wineries. A map of all that’s waiting to be discovered in this area, is available on the Moutere Artisans website.
Lunch at The Moutere Inn
1406 Moutere Highway, RD2, Upper Moutere
A true kiwi pub in all its glory, The Moutere Inn is the oldest pub in New Zealand and proud of its history. Find a great selection of craft beer and local Tasman wines, unpretentious gastro pub fare and stunning valley views in this special establishment.
Ice cream at T.O.A.D Hall
502 High St, Motueka, Tasman
The Tasman area is known for real fruit ice cream and it would be a crime to leave without sampling some. The iconic T.O.A.D Hall back in Motueka is the perfect spot to grab your soft serve fix. Choose from a number of fresh fruits and berries to go with either ice cream, frozen yoghurt or coconut ice cream, for that perfect post-lunch hit of sweetness.
Art fix at Zappekin Artists and Allies
3 Wood Loop, Mariri, Motueka
The Tasman region is home to a large number of artists, and what better way to experience the creativity here than by visiting a collective workshop and gallery? Zappekin Artists and Allies is a group of local creatives who have set up shop in an ex-apple-packing shed on the edge of the Moutere Inlet. Watch the artists at work and amble through the gallery and shop space.
Wander around the Māpua Wharf and stumble across curious stores, cafés and restaurants while taking in some glorious views across the Waimea Estuary. Find a new hat to keep sun-safe from Serious Straws Hat Shop, appreciate more local art at Coolstore Gallery and pop into The Smokehouse for some self-smoked fish or premier fish n chips.
Golden Bear Brewing Company
501/6 Aranui Road, Māpua
Finish off your visit to Māpua with a craft brew at Golden Bear Brewing Company. Housed in a refurbished ex-apple-crate-shed (yes, this part of the country is big on apples) the state of the art brewery produces beer solely for sale at their premises. Try a California Pale, IPA or a New England Hazy for a taste of something a little different.
Dinner at The Smoking Barrel
105 High Street, Port Motueka
Back in Motueka, a true American BBQ style dinner awaits you at The Smoking Barrel. This cosy restaurant serves home-smoked meat and statement burgers. It’s safe to say you won’t leave this restaurant hungry, except perhaps, hungry for another visit on another day.
Words by Petra Nyman
Photography by Nancy Zhou