Nelson – a pocket paradise nestled in the top northwest corner of the South Island. The entire area is said to resemble the prow of the waka (canoe) of Maui, an important figure in Maori mythology, and was known by the Maori as Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Maui (the tip of the nose of the canoe of Maui). Nelson was called Whakatu (the standing place) by its first Maori settlers. They found here a fertile land with plentiful food from sea, rivers and forests; a sheltered coastline and favourable climate. Organised European settlement of the region began in 1840 and in 1858 Nelson (named for Admiral Lord Nelson) became New Zealand’s second city by Royal Charter signed by Queen Victoria.
Nelson is an area of great beauty lying between the northern edge of the Southern Alps and a great sweep of Golden sun-baked beaches. Nelson's trademark is the diverse culture that has bloomed in this area of rich resources and easy climate. There is always something happening in the Nelson, and visitors can count on encountering original characters amongst a vital network of artists and craftspeople, farm and orchard settlements, Maori marae, alternative communities and adventurers- friendly folk happy to share their good life with you. Nelson enjoys sunny summers and clear crisp winters. Its setting in Tasman Bay with the backdrop of the Mount Arthur Range provides a wealth of recreational opportunities.
The region has three national parks within 90 minutes of each other, two marine reserves and many more wonderful places to play. Wine tasting, beaches, fishing, walking exploring, dining, kayaking, relaxing... Nelson has it all. With its mild Mediterranean climate and more than 2400 sunshine hours a year (Nelson is consistently rated as New Zealand's sunniest spot!). January and February are the warmest months of the year and July is generally the coldest. Nelson enjoys outdoor activities in all four seasons. Snow is rare on the lowlands but falls are common in the mountains in July and August. Visitors can shop from some of the over 300 fulltime artists and craftspeople active throughout the Nelson region. There are ceramic artists, sculptors, glassblowers, painters, designers, woodworkers, jewellers and textile artists.