A weekend in Nelson

I spent a delightful weekend in Nelson in May. As my plane landed at the small local airport, and I climbed down the stairs onto the runway, I looked around at the early morning light, the open skies, and the distant mountains, and felt that I had arrived somewhere special. After picking up my car from Hardy Rental Cars (very good friendly service) I headed into Nelson township, to visit the Nelson Market, which is held on Saturday mornings. It was a beautiful crisp sunny autumn day, and I had a very enjoyable stroll through the various market stalls – admiring everything from regional goods, fresh, seasonal and organic produce as well as handcrafted items from local artisans, and stalls selling mouth-watering freshly prepared food and coffee.

In the afternoon, I visited the World of Wearable Art Museum. I wasn’t expecting to be so impressed. The skill and talent involved in creating these stunning costumes is incredible. Many of the costumes on display won awards in the World of Wearable Art Awards Show, a two hour performance held annually in Wellington in September. The Museum also has a vast collection of classic cars in wonderful condition too. You can easily while away an hour or three here!

The next morning I visited some of the lovely vineyards in the Nelson area. Nelson is one of the sunniest region in New Zealand, and has a mild climate that combines to create some wonderful wines. Grape vines have been cultivated in this area from the time of the mid-1800s by German settlers to New Zealand. Many wineries in the area also offer lovely cafes at the vineyard, so as well as tasting wines, you can indulge in a platter of something delicious to go with the wine as well. As it is quite a small region, you can visit several vineyards within a few hours.

Afterwards, I ended up at the Jellyfish Cafe at Mapua Wharf for a late lunch. What a beautiful place. I had a delicious meal of grilled calamari, salad and kumara chips, with a glass of a Nelson Sauvignon Blanc, while admiring the beautiful Waimea Estuary flowing past the cafe. I could easily have spent most of the afternoon there, soaking in the sea air and the sound of gulls flying past, but decided I needed a bit of activity to round off the day.

So, after my late lunch I went for a bike tour on Tasman’s Great Taste Trail with Nicky McBride, from Wheelie Fantastic. They have a great arrangement there – Nicky and her team are based directly at Mapua Wharf, and will drop you (and your bikes) anywhere in the area on the Taste Trail (depending on how far and how long you want to bike, and how challenging you want your ride to be). I decided that after my wine tastings and lunch I didn’t feel up to tackling hilly areas, and rather wanted some downhill and flat biking. You can choose whether you want to bike on your own or whether you would like one of their guides to bike with you and show you around. Nicky loaded our bikes up on the back of their van, and we were dropped off on the Trail. Nicky showed me some lovely parts of the country on the way back to Mapua, and some good spots to stop for a break or two (Jester House looked lovely!) There’s something for everyone there, whether you’re a really keen biker or just someone who feels like a leisurely bike ride to work off lunch and a glass or two of wine!!

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