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.

Day One

Nelson Market

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.

People shopping at stallholder at Nelson Market.

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.

Gallery space at Flame Daisy, Nelson Tasman.

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.

Soaps on display at Global Soap, Nelson Tasman.

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.

Inside Stormy's Man Cave Barbershop, Nelson Tasman.

Day Two

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.

Café space at Bloom, Motueka Tasman.

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.

Inside Moutere artisan shop.

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.

Exterior of The Moutere Inn, Tasman.

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.

Ice cream making machine at TOAD hall, Motueka, Tasman.

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.

Inside gallery space at Zappekin Artists and Allies, Motueka.

Māpua Wharf

Māpua, Tasman

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.

View of shpps at Māpua Wharf, Tasman.

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.

Painting of bear on the wall at Golden Bear Brewing, Tasman.

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.

Chef preparing a meal at The Smoking Barrel, Tasman.

Words by Petra Nyman

Photography by Nancy Zhou 

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