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Travel Guide
Nelson Lake National Park, NZ

Nelson is a vibrant city at the top of the South Island of New Zealand. It has some of the highest sunshine hours in the country, a lively arts scene, fabulous local produce, and access to wonderful outdoor areas. You can fly directly into Nelson from most main centres in New Zealand, or it is just over an hour's drive from the ferry terminal in Picton. It's also become one of our most affordable centres to fly into, with both Air New Zealand and Jetstar servicing the city, and offering competitive pricing.

 How to get the best deal on a rental car in Nelson

At VroomVroomVroom we save you time and money! Use our simple system to get the right hire car at the best price in Nelson. 

  1. VroomVroomVroom has teamed up with trusted car rental suppliers Avis, Thrifty, Budget, Hertz and Europcar to give you the best car hire deals possible.
  2.  Compare various models; do you need an economical compact car for your road trip, or would you like special features, such as the boot space of a wagon, or 4-wheel drive? We've got them all! 
  3. In Nelson, our depots are all at the airport. Check out our Nelson Airport car rental page to find more information about picking up your car up from there.
  4. If you still have questions, our competent and highly qualified customer care experts can help you out. Phone, email or use live chat.
  5.  Book with total confidence, if your plans change after making the booking, you can cancel without any fees.

Driving From Christchurch to Nelson?

This is a chance to see some great New Zealand scenery. Currently, there are some road closures due to earthquake damage. Use the inland route of Highways 6 and 7, which will give you a mix of scenery, including Lewis Pass, and the alpine village of Hanmer Springs. 

Further afield: Mapua and the Ruby Coast

Nelson is a fantastic starting point for many adventures at the top of the South Island. Get some ideas from our useful article on a rental car road trip centred in Mapua

Discover what Nelson has to offer with a cheap car rental!

Nelson is a unique place to visit and a hire car is the most convenient way to explore the city and the surrounding region.

What to see and do in Nelson

Situated at the top of the South Island, Nelson is well-known for having the highest sunshine hours in the country, and all that warmth seems to have transferred to the population, creating a welcoming and creative vibe. There are over 350 working artists living in the Nelson and Tasman region, many with studios open to visitors.

You can see lots of arts and crafts in one place at the famous Nelson Saturday Market. Hoglund Art Glass is a world class glass-blowing operation, with a studio and gallery open to visitors, just 20 minutes from Nelson city. The Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith is a special place to have your jewellery made. Since 1968, they have been making jewellery with uncompromising beauty, and in recent times have become famous as the makers of the 'One Ring' from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. You can get your own Elvish love ring made for you or your partner. 

With its wonderful climate, Nelson is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.  It is handy to not one, but three, national parks,  Abel Tasman, Kahurangi, and Nelson Lakes. It's also a mecca for cyclists, Nelson has the Gold Ride Centre status with the International Mountain Biking Association, one of just six such centres in the world. 

Here's our top picks of things to do: 

  Things to Do |    Places to Stay  Places to Eat

 Things to Do

World of Wearable Arts and Classic Cars Museum

Address: Cadillac Way off Quarantine Road, Annesbrook,  Nelson

The famous World of Wearable Arts event started in Nelson, and though it has now become so big it transferred to the big smoke of Wellington, the original exhibits are at the World of Wearable Arts and Classic Cars Museum.  Gape at the astonishing exotic gowns that are made from the most amazing materials. Gawk at the excellent classic car collection —with over 50 different vintage cars and motorbikes, all in superb conditions. There is also an art gallery that features local painters.

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park The Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand's smallest national park, but is perfectly formed along a string of golden sand beaches. The Abel Tasman track within the park is one of New Zealand's Great Walks, a concept of premium walking experiences with fantastic facilities. The park is popular for sea kayaking also, with guided trips of up to five days available. The Tonga Island Marine Reserve is at the top of the Abel Tasman, and is home to dolphins, seals and penguins. If you don't think you can kayak all the way there, you can always catch a water-taxi instead. The Kahurangi National Park is also handy to Nelson, home to the famous Heaphy walking track. In the winter season, the track is open to mountain bikers.

Man cycling at a bike trail in nelson

Wheelie Fantastic Cycle Hire and Tours

Address: Mapua Wharf, Aranui Rd, Mapua

The ultimate way to explore the cycle ways around Nelson and Tasman, especially the Tasman Great Taste Trail; 175 kms  that explores the rich foodie culture of the region, from organic bakeries to boutique brewers. This 'can do' company can hire you a bike for one day or many, deliver it to your accommodation, give you a 'one-way' hire, where they take you down the track and you ride home; or offer  a range of tour options, from do-it-yourself to the ultimate in luxury. www.wheeliefantastic.co.nz

Abel Tasman Kayaks

Address: 273 Sandybay, Marahau Road 

The Abel Tasman Park is a sea-kayaking mecca.  Get here by car rental and experience a unique way to enjoy the beach. Explore the serene and gorgeous blue beaches, coves, lagoons, offshore islands, wildlife and the native forests all in one trip. They also offer guided day tours for half day, full day, or overnight excursions. 

Michael MacMillan Sculptor and Country Homewares

Address: 252 Neudorf Road, RD2 Upper Moutere

Call in to view large scale sculptures, or browse the beautiful homeware, handmade from parts of French oak wine barrels. You can even buy a coffee and relax in the beautiful courtyard in front of the gallery. Part of the Moutere Artisans collective, you can find more treasures by local people nearby. www.michaelmacmillan.co.nz or moutereartisans.co.nz

Helicopter flying in the mountain of NZ

Reid Heslop Helicopters 

Address: 256 Eighty Eight Valley Rd, Wakefield

With the aid of a car, drive your way to Reid Heslop Helicopters and explore the best that Nelson has to offer with one of their adventure flights or helicopter charter. They can arrange activities such as trout fishing, overnight stays, hiking, wine tours, etc. They also offer wedding and engagement flights, a luxury lodge transfer, and exclusive mountain landings.


Click here for list of tracks.

If your shoes where made for walking, then Nelson is known for its walkways with over 40 designated walks within a short distance from the city. 

 Places to Stay

 Ratanui Lodge

Address: 818 Abel Tasman Dr, Pohara

Ranked #1 of 71 hotels in Nelson, this cosy cottage like accommodation is your home away from home. It's like staying with your grandma with all the vintage wooden furniture like decor and superb customer service. You'll be fussed over like your royalty.

 Almond House Backpackers

Address: 63 Grove Street, The Wood, Nelson

Must stay at the best Hostel in Nelson! With its great central location, provides only a 10min walk to town, very homely feel with well equipped and clean facilities. Not to mention the great service reviews. Perfect for those on a budget looking for a quality, comfortable and hospitable place to stay.

 Places to Eat

 Mint Dining Room Restaurant

Address: 20 Harley Street, Nelson

This award winning fine dining restaurant offers perfection on a plate and with its entirely new fit out and refurbishment, you'll feel like your dining at home with its cosy warm wooden interiors and cottage detail exterior. 

Great food in a warm romantic atmosphere. 
Open: Tues-Sat Evenings from 5:30pm

 Penguino Gelato Ice-cream & Cafe

Address: 85 Montgomery Square, Nelson

Need refuge from the rigours of shopping? Then head to one of Nelson's favourite summer spots to cool down. With its huge variety of flavours to choose from and the extra options of bakery and coffee specialties, makes a perfect place to whine down for the individual or family traveler.

Find the best events in Nelson 

Nelson Buskers Festival on 2-5 February

Four days of shows in locations from the city to Mapua Wharf. 

Annual Marchfest at Founders Park, Nelson on March 2017

The Nelson region is New Zealand's sole hop growing area, and as a result has more craft breweries per head of population than anywhere else in New Zealand. Marchfest is a one day festival to celebrate all things craft beer. There are brewing workshops, and a beer and food matching lunch. There's also great music, delicious food, and a family friendly vibe. 

Nelson Heritage Week April, each year. 

Explore Nelson's rich history in this week of free and low cost events through walks, talks, theatre and film. 

Nelson Arts Festival 11-23 October 2017

Two weeks of arts and culture, including a masked parade and carnivale. 

Nelson,South IslandNew Zealand
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