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Nelson City Top Attractions

Nelson City is compact and pedestrian friendly, surrounded by lovely gardens and historical streetscapes, there are plenty of ways to delve into the history of the City and soak up the relaxed atmosphere.

Morning: Starting at the top of Trafalgar Street, enjoy a coffee or brunch at Fords Restaurant & Cafe and watch the City come to life! A stroll up to cathedral gardens and Christ Church Cathedral is a great way to start your day and has lovely views over the City and out to the Tasman Sea. Tucked behind the Cathedral is the historic South Street heritage precinct, a great place for taking some photographs of original settlers cottages. Once you have learnt a little of the history of this site, head into the Nelson Provincial Museum where you will find a treasure trove of archive material relating the Nelson’s early Maori settlement and later European arrivals.

Afternoon: If you are lucky enough to be here on a Market Day (Wednesday for the Farmers Market, Saturday for the Nelson Market and Sunday for Monty’s Market) enjoy lunch at one of the many food stalls on offer and watch the world go by. Alternatively there are plenty of options within the City for takeaway goodies which can be enjoyed in the Victorian ornamental splendour of the Queens Gardens at the end of Bridge Street. Return to the City via the Maitai River footpath which features several interesting sculptures and finishes at the Nelson i-site – your one-stop shop for visitor bookings and advice from their knowledgeable team.

Evening: Catch a show at The Theatre Royal or go see a movie at the state-of-the-art State Cinemas.

Arts and Galleries

Nelson City is home to many artists’ studios and galleries. Regular exhibitions of local, national and international artists can be found around the City. If your time in the region is limited, there are several convenient City-based outlets stocking Nelson Tasman made arts and craft.

Morning: Great coffee and a breakfast menu served til 3pm can be found at Lambretta’s on Hardy Street. Housed in an historic building and in the centre of the City its big tables and bustling atmosphere a great spot for planning the rest of the day ahead.  Take a short walk around the corner to Fibre Spectrum where they have a colourful range of yarns and materials for crafting and creating wonderful fabric masterpieces. Opposite Cathedral Gardens is Flamedaisy Glass Design; if your timing is right you could get to see the magic of glassblowing happen in front of you in their open studio. Right next door you will find the home of the ‘One Ring’; Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith. Stunning original designs grace the cabinets of this small store as well as information about their special relationship with the Lord of the Rings movies. If you are feeling creative, the Bead Gallery in Hardy Street has an enormous range of beads and findings to make your own piece of jewellery to take home or better still make them for friends and family.

Afternoon:  Retrace your steps up Hardy Street for Morri Street Café, its café walls are used as an exhibition space so there is always an interesting selection of works to view whilst enjoying one of their fabulous lunches.

Directly above Morri Street Café you’ll find Mike Ward Studio, a local icon, former Green MP and councillor and WOW Award winner, Mike’s studio is bursting at the seams with trinkets and treasures.  A new addition to the City is Craig Potton Gallery across the road, stunning photographic prints and books are on offer from this celebrated NZ photographer.  Back on Trafalgar Street seek out Jewel Beetle for quirky affordable and wearable jewellery handmade right here in the City. Red Art Gallery on Bridge Street has a great gift shop, a high quality art space and a welcoming café which has become a firm favourite with the locals. On the fringes of the City centre is the Refinery Artspace, artists’ studio’s exhibitions and a well stocked gallery on Halifax Street opposite Anzac Park.  Benjamin Black Goldsmith can be found in upper Bridge Street, here you will find hand crafted jewellery and lifestyle accessories made from silver, gold and gemstones.


Nelson City’s vibrant retail scene is alive with alluring labels, products and shopping experiences!  There’s the vintage and one-off finds in the eclectic recycle shops, the locally-made gourmet foods, the boho and artisan textiles, wools and handicrafts, and a mecca of fashionable boutiques, designers and high-street fashion stores.

Morning: Kick start the day with coffee and crepes at the River Kitchen next door to the i-site. This puts you in the perfect place to pick up some souvenirs of your time in Nelson at award winning Simply New Zealand, stocking a wide range of NZ and local gifts. For all your photographic needs Hanafins Camera & Video Store on Trafalgar Street is the place to go, postcards, magazines and friendly service is on offer at Paper Plus. For local creativity with a warm glow, step into Living Light Candles, their hand-crafted pillar candles will add style to any space. Across Buxton carpark is Prego Mediterranean Foods & Comida Cafe, stocking a huge range of local and imported foods and wine.

Afternoon: Head along Hardy Street to Morrison Square where you will find Columbus Coffee in the centre of the open air mall. Freshly made cabinet food and a wide selection of hot lunch options are on offer here; the perfect place to check out which stores appeal around the palm-shaded mall, home to well known names such as Just Jeans, Kimberley’s, Jacqui E, Portmans, Merric, Dotti and Hartleys. For high quality essential oils and blends visit Aromaflex, purveyors of a wealth of aromatherapy treatments and great advice. Back onto Hardy Street you will find Cruellas Fibre Boutique for stunning collections of wool, yarn and everything the knitter could need. For additional craft options Creations Unlimited is just across the road. If your visit to the region includes getting out into our magnificent landscape, there are numerous options for outdoor and active clothing and equipment; Nelson Hunting and Fishing has helpful staff to make sure you are well equipped for your next adventure.

Health and Beauty

After a day of retail therapy it’s time to take care of the body and the soul.  Relax and unwind with one of Nelson City’s health, beauty and wellbeing practitioners.  Whether it’s a massage to soothe the stresses away, a new do for your hair or a complete makeover for your face, there’s plenty of choice in Nelson City.  Our beauty centres and spas pride themselves on using the best of local and international beauty products, with some unique offerings made right here in Nelson.

Morning: Start the day nice and early with breakfast at Di Pierri’s, tasty Italian baking and espresso coffees. Today is all about you and there is a wealth of opportunities to pamper yourself in the city; for a de-stressing traditional Thai massage visit Ima Asian Spa on Hardy Street. Stock up on detoxifying supplements and herbal remedies at Health 2000 and then treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure at Nelson Day Spa on Bridge Street.

Afternoon: Lunch is flavourful at Mango; Asian fusion food followed by a refreshing smoothie or freshly squeezed juice. For natural, preservative-free, freshly made skincare created and packed right here in Nelson, a visit to Carol Priest Natural Cosmetics is a must. Nelson Beauty Therapy in Buxton carpark provides pampering and tailored facial treatments. Nelson has many award-winning hair salons including Ursula Harris in Trafalgar Street and Aboki in Buxton car park. Finally, head into Prices Pharmacy for a makeup consultation and makeover ready for the evening to come!

Fashion Footwear and Accessories

Explore the myriad of fashion, footwear and accessories right here in the heart of Nelson City. Discover the hottest fashion trends, the best in weekend chic, casual beach culture or outdoor adventure gear.  Whether it’s top fashion labels, local designers, event wear or funky street wear, there’s a range of fashion boutiques and stores offering something for everyone.

Morning: Kick start your day with a great coffee at one of the City’s many cafés and get ready for a day of exploring Nelson’s Style! Begin your day of retail therapy by treating yourself to some fabulous underwear or swimwear at Little Boutique in Bridge Street (or enter from the other side in Wakatu car park).  Bridge Street is home to some of Nelson’s best fashion boutiques: Jays and KO for the latest men’s and women’s designer fashion; some of New Zealand’s leading fashion labels can be found at Palm Boutique; Marshalls Fashions offer friendly service and a range of leading labels, there’s also Dames for fantastic women’s fashions from size 14 and across the road is Vintage Heaven, a treasure trove of 50s-styled fashions and accessories. For an eclectic mix of international and NZ designs for fashion forward guys and girls visit Trouble and Fox and Sidecar in Bank Lane (next to the BNZ). If you are shopping with younger family members make sure you head into Hogeys Surf, Urban Beach or Cheapskates for all the big surf and street-wear brands. Are you in need of an outfit for an upcoming event? Visit Profile in Hardy Street; they have plenty of gorgeous outfits for weddings, balls or a day at the races!

Afternoon: After a busy morning pounding the pavement, relax over lunch at The Vic Mac’s Brewbar.  Time to get some fancy footwear to go with the morning’s purchases; Nelson has a number of quality footwear specialists including Taylors and Andrea Biani. Take a stroll up Hardy Street for shoes for the whole family at Soul by Mariposa. A few doors away, accessorise your outfit with gorgeous jewellery, handbags and loads of great gift ideas at Shine Design Store.

Restaurants, Cafes and Bars

From casual, outdoor or ethnic eating to fine dining, Nelson City has a vibrant selection of cafés and restaurants to tempt your taste buds.  Seasonal menus specialise in fresh locally grown produce, seafood & shellfish and of course, a selection of local wines and beers.

Morning: Every trip into Nelson City affords an opportunity to eat at one of our great cafes or restaurants and in between all that retail therapy it’s vital to stay hydrated! We have several coffee roasters in Nelson including ZUMO, Pomeroys and Kush, enjoy a choice of unique coffee blends or buy some freshly ground beans to enjoy at home. For something a bit different try frozen yoghurt for your mid morning refresher – Yogi’s on Hardy Street also serve coffees, juices and cakes. If it happens to be a Wednesday or a Saturday when you are in town, make sure you stock up on locally grown produce from one of our markets. There are a number of other outlets in town which offer gourmet handmade or locally produced goods all week, from cured meats to baked goods and preserves, including Marcel’s Butcher Baker & Chocolates, Philippe Butchers, L’Artisan Bakery and Prego Mediterranean Foods.

Afternoon: Nelson is becoming synonymous with craft beer and there are several places you should try a pint and a pub lunch including 623 in the City, the Sprig and Fern and The Freehouse. If local wines are more your style relax at Café Affair where they also offer stonegrill dining – a great way to enjoy prime fillet steak sizzling at your table!

Nelson City Street Art & Murals

Nelson City is fortunate to have a wealth of street art and murals.  You can take an easy walk around the city to see most of them, for further information visit:

You can also view a comprehensive collection of Nelson’s street art, thanks to Amanda Sears.  Amanda has published Nelson City Street Art, a complete photographic collection of Nelson street art.  You can view the book on-line or download a self-guided walking map:  Click here for more info: Nelson City Street Art

Our most recent two new murals are by ASKEW ONE (aka Elliot O’Donnell) and can be viewed on the back of Morrison Square (facing Selwyn Place) and in the Fresh Choice Supermarket car park.

Nelson City Map

ArtWalk Map

Nelson City Centre ArtWalk
Make/Shift Spaces and The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū
ArtWalk Nelson takes you around art installations in central Nelson.
Many thanks to all the property owners and tenants for being part of ArtWalk.

Explore the latest Artwalk here

Nelson City Centre ArtWalk is an outdoor art gallery in Nelson’s streets. With more than 20 sites, ArtWalk takes you on a journey past artworks by some of Nelson’s most celebrated artists, as well as artworks that have a particular poignancy to Whakatū. By Make Shift Spaces and The Suter Art Gallery
Nelson City Centre ArtWalk is an outdoor art gallery in Nelson’s streets. With more than 20 sites, ArtWalk takes you on a journey past artworks by some of Nelson’s most celebrated artists, as well as artworks that have a particular poignancy to Whakatū. By Make Shift Spaces and The Suter Art Gallery.


Check Out the latest Artwalk Map Here

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