Nelson's Māori name, Whakatū, means 'build', 'raise', or 'establish'. Nelson is one of the few New Zealand cities to have its own flag. The city of Nelson was named after Admiral Lord Nelson of Battle of Trafalgar fame. With the sun shining most days and with its enjoyable and beautiful environment, there are many good reasons to visit the Nelson region and get acquainted with the creative local culture. Situated in the north-west corner of the South Island, the Nelson region is surrounded by sheltering mountain ranges giving it a Mediterranean-type climate with golden beaches, national parks, boutique wineries, micro breweries and a large creative community of working artists. There is a wonderful feeling about Nelson that combines a stress-free approach to life. Unlike many towns and cities in New Zealand, Nelson has retained many Victorian buildings in its historic centre and a whole street has been designated as having heritage value: South Street. Nelson is surrounded by mountains on three sides with Tasman Bay on the other and the region is the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, Kahurangi National Park and Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa in the Nelson Lakes National Park. With eco-tourism and adventure tourism in the ascendency, the area is highly rated among caving enthusiasts. There are several prominent cave systems around Takaka Hill and Mounts Owen and Arthur, which hold the largest and deepest explored caverns in the southern hemisphere. Many people believe Nelson has the best climate in New Zealand, as it regularly tops the national statistics for sunshine hours, with an annual average total of over 2400 hours.
With an abundance of locally grown produce, fresh seafood, wonderful restaurants situated either in town or down on the waterfront, there is plenty of employment here. If adrenaline sports are your thing there are a lot of jobs for guides whether it is on the water or land. Diving is also very popular here, so jobs are available for boating or any similar area. There’s an abundance of motels, hotels and lodges in the region, plus a wide variety of cafes and restaurants. The busiest time in this area is summer. There are exclusive lodges to everyday cafes in this region and it’s a wonderful place to work if you love water sports and the great outdoors. Other areas of employment are available on day charters, from dinner cruises to sailing and diving. Nelson is a favorite tourist destination, especially as the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. There are also really great wines and boutique beers emerging from this region, plus a great variety of fruit and vegetables.
Population: 78,000 Nelson region.
Nelson city’s total population rose from 41,568 in 2001 to 42,888 in 2006, while Tasman district’s rose from 41,352 to 44,625, to exceed that of Nelson for the first time. Figures released on 23 April 2007 by Statistics New Zealand showed that 3,774 people born in the United Kingdom and Ireland lived in the Nelson City Council area and made up 9.1% of its population - the highest proportion of residents from the United Kingdom and Ireland in New Zealand - with another 9.5% born overseas. Although Statistics New Zealand no longer keeps statistics for numbers of residents born in Germany, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Wellington has stated that a greater proportion of German speakers live in the Nelson and Bays area than anywhere else in New Zealand. There was a 23.7% rise in the number of Asians living in Nelson and a 35.4% rise in Tasman district. Nelson is growing at 3% and Tasman at nearly 8%, while the rest of New Zealand is growing at 5.4%. Based on the current rate of population increase, Tasman and Nelson each will reach a population of 50,000 in 2021. The population figures in this information are from the 2006 census.
Land area: 444 km²
Main Centres: Nelson, Motueka, Takaka
Maoris first began to arrive in Nelson 1100 years ago. There is evidence the earliest settlements in New Zealand were around the Nelson-Marlborough regions. The earliest recorded iwi in the Nelson district are the Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Tumatakokiri, Ngāti Apa and Rangitane tribes. Raids from northern tribes in the 1820s soon decimated the local population and quickly displaced them. Nelson received its name in honour of the Admiral Horatio Nelson who defeated both the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Many of the roads and public areas around the city are named after people and ships associated with that battle and Trafalgar Street is the main shopping axis of the city. Inhabitants of Nelson are referred to as Nelsonians. The New Zealand Company in London planned the settlement of Nelson. They intended to buy cheaply from the Māori some 200,000 acres (800 km²) which they planned to divide into one thousand lots and sell (at a considerable profit) to intending settlers. The Company selected the site now occupied by Nelson City because it had the best harbour in the area. Notably, the early settlement of Nelson province included a proportion of German immigrants, who arrived on the ship Sankt Pauli and formed the nucleus of the villages of Sarau (Upper Moutere) and Neudorf. These were mostly Lutheran Protestants with a small number of Bavarians.
Activities: What to do there?
From Nelson it's easy to access any of three national parks. Abel Tasman National Park is a coastal wonderland of sea, sky, rocky headlands and bright golden beaches. The Nelson Lakes National Park is set in beautiful scenery among the mountains and valleys south of Nelson city. The park features beech forests and the beautiful jewel-like lakes, Rotoiti and Rotoroa. Kahurangi, New Zealand's second-largest national park, it has three- to four-day hiking trails. There is everything to do here for the adrenaline junkie: Kayaking, river rafting, mountain biking, horse riding etc. Nelson has fine beaches and a sheltered harbour. The harbour entrance is protected by a Boulder Bank, a natural, 13km bank of rocks transported south from Mackay Bluff via longshore drift. The bank creates a perfect natural harbour and with Nelson’s fantastic beaches water is inevitably a big part of the local lifestyle - but so is music. There is the biennial Nelson School of Music Winter Music Festival, plus the Adam New Zealand Festival of Chamber Music and the annual Jazz Festival. Taste Nelson festival at Founders Heritage Park highlights gastronomy, the Festival of Opportunities features alternative health and lifestyle possibilities, while the Suter International Film Festival screens 20 non-Hollywood films in late May to June every year. The Nelson Kite Festival takes advantage of the reliable sea breezes that blow inland.
Nelson is a centre for creative people whether its music or arts and crafts. Every year Nelson hosts many popular events such as the Nelson Arts Festival, The annual Wearable Art Awards began near Nelson and a museum, World of Wearable Art, is now housed close to Nelson Airport showcasing winning designs and a fine display of collectable cars. This is just one of several top-flight museums in the region. For instance, the Nelson Provincial Museum houses a collection of locally significant artifacts. Nelson has a vibrant local music and arts scene plus a variety of potters, glass blowers and wood carvers who use native New Zealand southern beech and exotic macrocarpa in their work. The One Ring that figures prominently in Sir Peter Jackson’s film trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, was designed by goldsmiths in Nelson. Brightwater, near Nelson is the birthplace of Lord Rutherford, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose image appears on New Zealand's $100 banknote, the largest denomination in circulation in New Zealand. Nelson is a popular visitor destination and year-round attracts both New Zealanders and international tourists. The Saturday Nelson Market is renowned and you can buy direct from local artists. Art organisations include the Suter Gallery and Nelson Arts Festival. The first rugby match in New Zealand took place at the Botanic Reserve in Nelson on May 14, 1870, between the Nelson Football Club and Nelson College and an informative commemorative plaque was renovated at the western edge of the grassed area by Nelson City Council in 2006. http://www.nelsoncitycouncil.co.nz/festivals-and-events/
Airport: Nelson Airport is the country's fourth busiest commercial airport, with more than 2,600 air seats in and out per day. There are approximately 90 aircraft movements daily, with a plane taking off or landing on average every 4.5 minutes during scheduled hours. Direct flights are available on Air New Zealand's schedule to and from: Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton, Palmerston North. In addition there are flights throughout the Air New Zealand network from Nelson with connections via Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch. http://www.nelsonairport.co.nz/
Roads: Good roads connect Nelson to the West Coast, Blenheim and Christchurch. Whether you travel to Nelson through Murchison or follow the Kaikoura coast you will see some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. The Nelson-Tasman Region is well serviced by coaches operating into and around the district. The roads between Nelson and Blenheim or Havelock are all in good condition.
Buses: There are buses from Nelson - Blenheim – Picton. Intercity: two services daily; Southern Link/K Bus: two services daily; Atomic Shuttles: one service daily. Picton - Blenheim – Nelson. Intercity: two services daily; Southern Link/K Bus: three services daily; Atomic Shuttles: one service daily. Nelson – Christchurch – Nelson. Intercity: one service daily; Southern Link/K Bus: three services daily; Atomic Shuttles: one service daily. Within Nelson region there are also regional services between Nelson and St Arnaud, Takaka, Motueka and Abel Tasman National Park. http://www.nelsoncitycouncil.co.nz/buses/
Ferries: For travel between the North Island and Nelson-Tasman region there are ferry services from Wellington and Picton, with regular connections to Nelson by bus. Regular coach services connect with the inter-island ferry services at Picton to bring you here to paradise. There are several water taxi companies who operate in the Abel Tasman.
Train: There are no trains through Nelson.
Cycling: Explore Nelsons’ natural beauty by bike - the wonderful temperate climate makes this an excellent way to see the area. There is advice on routes and road conditions on the Nelson website. The RaboPlus 2010 New Zealand Mountain Bike Cup continues Nelson’s strong and enduring pedigree of hosting national-level mountain bike events. http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/new-zealand-mountain-bike-series-heads-to-nelson
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