Nelson Centre of NZ

Nelson, the centre of New Zealand

Normally bus rides aren’t worthy of mention in a blog post; uncomfortable, mind-numbingly boring journeys where I either fall asleep or pass the time wishing I was out in the spectacular scenery the bus is rushing by. Our trip from Christchurch to Nelson, despite its far too early start for a very late night/early morning arrival to New Zealand, gets an honourable mention however for the amazing scene we saw along the way. While on the road to Kaikoura our bus was particularly lucky to pass an enormous pod of dolphins splashing about  in the bay that hugged along the highway. There were quite literally hundreds of dolphins swimming along, leaping through the air and playfully performing tricks and spins – it was a truly memorable performance!

Dolphins near Kaikoura

Dolphins near Kaikoura

But on to Nelson.

Despite spending three nights in Nelson, broken up by our Cable Bay adventure, we only spent one full day in the city. Late arrivals and early departures meant the rest of the time was reserved for organising ourselves for upcoming journeys and tramping – read food shopping; the not so glamorous reality of travel. The city itself is nice enough, with clean streets, manicured gardens and the cathedral standing proud on the hill, although I don’t really think we explored its full potential. We stayed in two different but both comfortable and fun hostels; the Prince Albert Backpackers and the Tasman Bay Backpackers. I appreciated the ‘extra’ inclusions at each of the hostels, the free breakfasts and courtyard equipped with hammocks at the Prince Albert, and the fun atmosphere, artworks and cartoons, herb garden and free brownie with ice cream (if you eat that sort of thing) at the Tasman Bay.

Relaxing at the Prince Albert Backpackers

Relaxing at the Prince Albert Backpackers

As a relaxing destination before the hard work of tramping had begun, my highlights of Nelson were simply spending time in Queen’s Park, a local garden, and hiking to the Centre of New Zealand. The walk is conveniently only a quick stroll from the city and, while steep in some places, is a short hike up Botanical Hill. Offering stunning views of Nelson, the coastline and the surrounding Maitai River Valley, the walk is suitable for most people provided they walk at their own place. At the top, information boards provide points of interest for the panoramic view of the city that lays ahead of you.

Centre of New Zealand

Centre of New Zealand

As a gateway to the gorgeous northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, Nelson is a great city to base yourself and rest up in between the abundant coastal adventures to be had in that beautiful part of the world.