The town of Nelson (officially a city because it boasts a cathedral) is a compact regional hub of New Zealand that punches above its weight in terms of things to see, do, and experience.
Nelson is known for its arts and crafts, the Saturday market and the various festivals taking place throughout the year. The region has a large community of working artists, especially a lot of good painters and woodworkers, whose works and workshops can be visited on walking and driving trails through town and the region. The Wearable Arts awards, a yearly event which mixes fashion, visual arts and theatrical expression, began in Nelson, and the museum showcasing the spectacular garments from years past is still here.
There is a lot of relaxed outdoor wining and dining in Nelson. Morrison Street Cafe is renowned for its award-winning baristas, and Hopgood’s, a true destination dining location, has gained a reputation as one of the best restaurants in all of New Zealand. Founders’ Brewery, located within the recreated historical ‘village’ Founders Park, provides its own organic ales. The Boat Shed, perched above the water at Nelson harbour, has been a local favourite for years. For organic produce the Saturday market at Montgomery Square is ideal and on Wednesday afternoon the Community Gardens sell fresh fruit and veggies at a more than reasonable price, especially for those who are willing to lend a hand in the gardens.
Nelson is also known for its ‘alternative’ scene. New-Age therapies, meditation classes and spiritual teaching of various kinds are all readily available. There are courses and workshops on varied topics: from yoga, quantum physics, and sacred geometry to how to design your own mudbrick or strawbale home. Once a year Nelson hosts the Festival Of Opportunities, one of the biggest alternative lifestyle expos in the country.
The beauty of the region, the flourishing art scene, the quality restaurants and the availability of good, healthy food, good schools and health care attract many people to the area to live, work and play.