From stunning natural beauty to a bubbling and vibrant culture, Nelson is simply extraordinary. 

Nestled at the entrance to the Abel Tasman region sits Nelson, a captivating city full of mesmerizing attractions, an imaginative and diverse art scene, and more breathtaking walking tracks than you’ll ever have time for. Kick off your New Zealand holiday with a leader-led tour of this sparkling city, stopping to wander through epic gardens bursting with lush foliage and marvel at the unique and equally impressive art trail that snakes its way past historical streets and architectural buildings. Whether you feel like sunnin’ it up on one of the South Island’s best beaches, strolling along the marvellous Maitai River, or exploring spectacular national parks, our tours and holidays in Nelson offer the perfect backdrop for some pretty unforgettable memories. 

Our Nelson tours & holidays

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Things to do in Nelson

A vineyard in Nelson, New Zealand.

Stop at a local winery

All that exploring can be thirsty work. Luckily there are several wineries for you to choose from if you’re in need of a little rest and some adult hydration. Thanks to the region’s high sunshine hours, coastal climate, and fertile soil, Nelson is the perfect place to grow tasty crops and orchids with wineries specializing in Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. From cellar doors with outstanding views to boutique vineyards offering unique and emerging varieties of wine, Nelson is the place to go for a tipple. 

An aerial image of Tahunanui Beach with a rainbow in the background.

Lay out on Tahunanui Beach

Nelson is considered one of the most desirable places to live in New Zealand and we reckon Tahunanui Beach is the main reason why. With just over 1.75km of sparkling, golden sand, this perfect slice of paradise makes for an afternoon filled with fun, laughter, and the best memories. Whether you feel like making a sandcastle, laying out under the sun (with sunscreen on of course), or splashing around in the aquamarine water, Tahunanui Beach is a place you’re going to want to go to again and again and again. 

Cyclists travelling along the Maitai River in Nelson.

Wander along the Maitai River

The Maitai River might be Nelson’s largest, but did you know it’s also the prettiest? A manageable 11km in length, this naturally impressive body of water flows right through the city and out towards Tasman Bay so if you’re looking for a truly spectacular sight all you have to do is stroll alongside it. With several walkways and trails to follow, spend an afternoon under the warm Nelson sun, stopping off for a dip in one of the many swimming holes, and pack a picnic to enjoy some local produce surrounded by the beauty of mother nature. 

A couple of travellers enjoying the Nelson Art Trail.

Discover the Nelson Art Trail

Nelson is bursting with beautiful places to visit so it’s no surprise a vast array of artists have found their inspiration among its breathtaking natural landscapes. From several art galleries full of imaginative and unique pieces to public studios and try-it-for-yourself workshops, Nelson is a community of creatives all willing to share their magnificent work and design process with you. Why not ask your tour leader for directions to The Suter art gallery (Suter Te Aratoi o Whakatu)? Or wander through boutique shops for a special trinket to take home?

A water fountain in the lush Queens Garden, Nelson.

Take a stroll through Queens Gardens

Another day, another lush natural attraction to explore! First opening its wrought-iron gates in 1892 as a gift to Queen Victoria on her jubilee, Queen’s Garden is designed in a classic Victorian style around parts of the Maitai River with floral ornamentation and various war memorials scattered throughout the grounds. Featuring a diverse plant display that’s easy to get lost in and an extensive tree collection known for its remarkability, these impressive gardens will have you not only feeling relaxed and recharged but also closer to nature in no time. 

A lake in Nelson Lakes National Park on a clear, sunny day.

Explore Nelson Lakes National Park

While the Nelson Lakes National Park is a short one-hour drive from the city centre of Nelson, it’s still worth organising transportation to thanks to its enchanting landscape. Acting as a gateway to the Southern Alps of New Zealand, this park features forested valleys and jaw-dropping peaks accessed by tracks that are both perfect for beginners and suitable for those after a bit more of a challenge. Bursting with breathtaking alpine lakes, honeydew beech forests, and native wildlife, Nelson Lakes National Park has something everyone can be excited about. 

Nelson tour reviews 

Nelson FAQs

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises). 

However, we continue to strongly recommend  that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid's COVID-19 policy

There are a number of ways to get to Nelson depending on where in New Zealand you're travelling from. Nelson is located on the tip of the South Island so catching the ferry across from Wellington and then self-driving is a great way to travel to the region if you're on the North Island. You can also catch public transport from other destinations on the South Island or fly to Nelson's airport. 

Click to read more about travelling to Nelson

Nelson enjoys a relatively mild climate with no extreme temperatures throughout the year, either hot or cold. Rainfall is also distributed evenly throughout the year, however, December is the wettest month with 113mm on average. The warmest month is February but temperatures are unlikely to reach over 30°C+. July is the coldest month with an average temperature of 8°C with little to no chance of overnight frosts. 

Click to read more about the weather in Nelson

Nelson is known for having extraordinary natural landscapes so chances are that during your holiday you'll be doing exploring some of them. If that's the case, you'll want to pack comfortable walking/hiking shoes, a day bag, a reusable drink bottle, and some sunscreen for your outdoor adventures. You should also pack your swimsuit if you want to make the most of Tahunanui Beach, as well as weather-appropriate clothes for the time of year you're travelling in. 

Summer is usually considered to be the best time to visit Nelson as the weather is at its warmest. If you do travel during the months of December, January, or February, expect it to be crowded in certain spots as it is peak season. If you did want to avoid the crowds, try travelling in Autumn (March, April, and May) as the weather will still be warm and rainfall will be minimal. 

Nelson has some of the best landscapes in the South Island and to make sure you're getting the most out of this naturally beautiful region, why not follow a few tracks and embark on a few walks to see it all? Below are some of our favourites: 

  • Abel Tasman Track 
  • The Boulder Bank 
  • Mt. Arthur Summit Track 
  • Lake Rotoiti Circuit 
  • St. Arnaud Range Track

Read about the best Nelson walks to go on here. 

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

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