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6 tips to get the most out of Nelson

We had no idea what to expect when we booked 3 nights at the Hotel Nelson in January except for that on a map Nelson looked kind of close to everything that we wanted to go and see.

Fun fact – Nelson is also home to the geographic centre of NZ. There’s a monument and everything and luckily for the kids I didn’t find that out until after we got home and I was writing this otherwise we all would have been trekking off to see that.

Nelson ended up being the perfect city for our teenage and tween family with just the right amount of everything and yes, close to everything that us adults wanted to see too.

Lets start with the kids. Nine days on the road with your parents can feel like a long time when you are 12, 13 and 14 and the biggest thing our kids were missing were shops (particularly the 14 year old).

They had Christmas money burning a whole in their pockets so when I asked them what they wanted to do on our one day with no plans they said shop.

Now for teenagers this is all about the chain stores and the great thing about Nelson city is that they had an awesome mix of the Glassons and Cotton On for the kids, and the more eclectic shops like an Aromatic Dispensary and the little market vendors on the side of the road for us.

They also had great little coffee shops and pubs to grab a quick drink on a hot day too. So the kids shopped, James had a beer and I smelt everything in Aromaflex. It was perfect for us all!


When it came to eating out though our hands down favourite was the Boat Shed. We loved it so much that we nearly went back for a second night in a row. The food was sensational, they whipped up steak and chips for the kids despite it not being on the menu and the views were absolutely stunning.

Boatshed Nelson

And after we were done eating James went and sat outside and fished off the wall. I’d put it up there with The Bistro in Taupo and almost a reason to visit just by itself.

The Boatshed Nelson

The beaches in Nelson (like all of this region) are incredibly tidal and if you pass through at low tide you’d be forgiven for missing some of the magic that Nelson has at full tide when driving around the waterfront.


We headed down to Tahunanui Beach with a picnic lunch on our day out adventuring in Nelson.

First up there’s the beach. Beautiful sandy shores with clear water and great swimming – even at lower tides.


Head on a quick walk up the beach and you’ll find yourself at Nelson Fun Park with Bumper Boats, hydro slides (definite winner for the kids) and mini golf (more mine and James scene).


Right next door is a trampoline park and slides. It’s definitely a spend the day kind of a place.

And it was a quick jump up to Abel Tasman, Mapua Wharf or across to Blenheim so it really was in the heart of everything.

Abel Tasman

There’s a well stoked New World and pretty much everything you could need so it really is the perfect base to explore the top of the South Island (just make sure you leave a couple of days to explore Nelson too).

Our recommendations to get the most out of Nelson;

  1. We stayed at Hotel Nelson and we’d thoroughly recommend it for a family – loads of room to spread out, an onsite restaurant and bar, swimming pool, usable kitchen and big fridge and super close to everything
  2. Head on down to the supermarket on day 1 and stock up on all the picnic essentials and breakfast stuff
  3. Go early to the supermarket and take a detour around the waterfront at high tide (it’s pretty magic)
  4. Plan at least half a day at Tahunanui Beach
  5. Divide and conquer in Nelson city centre – there’s so much for everyone and it’s the perfect little city break for a couple of hours
  6. Go to dinner at the Boat Shed at least once

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