Should I spend 1 or 2 weeks in Nelson?

Should you spend 1 or 2 weeks in Nelson?

Most visitors spend three to five days in Nelson when visiting. The natural city offers so many things to see and explore, so you'll want to take full advantage of the limited time you have. Highlights include the beaches, the hiking, the food, and the beautiful scenery.

Located on the South Island of New Zealand, Nelson is a fun city that many travelers use as a base for exploring the surrounding natural areas. There are three national parks nearby as well as coastline and caving sites. In town there are cafes and cultural activities that you can enjoy.

Do you have one or two weeks to visit Nelson? Here's our comprehensive breakdown of how much time you might need for your trip along with some suggestions for things to do.


Is one week enough time in Nelson?

One week provides ample opportunity to explore the entirety of Nelson at your own pace to experience the beaches, the hiking, the food, and the beautiful scenery. Then you can use the city as a convenient base for venturing out to nearby mountain towns, hiking trails, or scenic viewpoints. There are also many exciting day trip options.

How to spend a week in Nelson

The beautiful beaches await you in Nelson, so spend the day (or several, if you can) relaxing on the sand or swimming in the water. Beaches in the area are sandy and most are great for swimming. There are many water sports available as well such as kayaking, kite surfing, and paddleboarding. You'll find locals and tourists alike hanging out at the beach and enjoying a barbecue.

The restaurant and food scene here is top notch, so make sure you spend time at one of the local restaurants where you can taste the delicious cuisine. Local ingredients, vineyards, and craft breweries all make the foodie scene around town interesting. There are many great restaurants that offer seasonal menus that change with the season. Eating is an experience in town, and locals take pride in the food they produce.


A few tour suggestions include:

  • Self-guided E-bike cycle tour with private wine tasting ($101)

Nelson is a walkable city and easy to explore on foot. With only a day in the city, you'll have no trouble seeing the local sights. There are many great walks in the area and its a wonderful way to get around.

Known for it's hiking, Nelson sees plenty of visitors looking to get outdoors. Spend a day exploring the natural beauty and scenery on a nearby hike. The area is filled with walking and hiking trails that wander along the coast and soak up the spectacular views. There are also three national parks in the area that are filled with trails. Abel Tasman National Park, Kahurangi National Park, and Nelson Lakes National Park each have their own environments and scenery to explore.

Nelson is known to be such a beautiful destination, so just exploring and taking it all in should be one of the top things to do on your list. The city is surrounded by beautiful scenery and wonderful outdoor environments.


A few tour suggestions include:

  • Nelson City Walking Tour - Guided ($30)

Don't miss Abel Tasman National Park during your trip to Nelson, as it's one of this destination's most well-known attractions. You should make sure to set aside enough time to see it.

The nightlife scene is very popular here. After dark, head out to one of the many venues around town. The city attracts a good tourist crowd, and there are bars and clubs that keep things interesting late into the evening.

You'll find a few good museums and historic landmarks here, so it's worth your time to spend a day exploring a few of them. While most people spend their time enjoying the nature-oriented activities, there are several museums in the area as well. Founder's Heritage Park Museum is a village-like setting that you can explore. There's also the Nelson Classic Car Museum and local art and craft galleries that are fun to walk through.

There are plenty of restaurants you haven't tried yet, so don't miss another amazing meal at local places for lunch and dinner. Try to go out of your way to find the small, locally owned places that offer the charm and ambiance that can only be found in Nelson.

Shopping in Nelson is very popular, and it's easy to see why. Spend time exploring the many shops and boutiques to find the perfect gift, souvenir, or outfit. There are weekly markets in the area and a variety of retail shops where you can pick up anything you might need.

There are plenty of restaurants you haven't tried yet, so don't miss another amazing meal at local places for lunch and dinner. Try to go out of your way to find the small, locally owned places that offer the charm and ambiance that can only be found in Nelson.

After you've explored most of Nelson, take a day trip to one of the many beautiful destinations nearby.


A few tour suggestions include:

  • Best Abel Tasman Day trip ($237)

There are plenty of restaurants you haven't tried yet, so don't miss another amazing meal at local places for lunch and dinner. Try to go out of your way to find the small, locally owned places that offer the charm and ambiance that can only be found in Nelson.

Another fun day at the beach awaits, so spend more time relaxing and swimming. After all, a beach vacation usually calls for plenty of time to have fun on the sand and in the waves.

There are plenty of restaurants you haven't tried yet, so don't miss another amazing meal at local places for lunch and dinner. Try to go out of your way to find the small, locally owned places that offer the charm and ambiance that can only be found in Nelson.

Is 2 weeks enough time in Nelson?

With two weeks at your disposal, you'll have more than enough time to take in all that Nelson has to offer, giving you the flexibility to unwind in your hotel, spend more time hiking, or use Nelson as a base for day trips to nearby mountain towns. You'll be able to relax while enjoying the beaches, the hiking, and the food at your own pace. We have some suggestions of things to do below, too.

Archway Islands, Wharariki Beach, New Zealand Archway Islands, Wharariki Beach, New Zealand

How to spend 2 weeks in Nelson

With 2 weeks in Nelson, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy everything the city has to offer at your own relaxed pace. You'll want to spend plenty of time relaxing on the beach and hiking. You can also relax at your hotel, or casually explore this city looking for hidden gems. Also, consider taking some day trips to nearby destinations where you can explore more of the region.


A few trip suggestions:

  • Best Abel Tasman Day trip ($237)

More Info

If you're looking for more information about Nelson, we have even more advice to help you plan your journey.

Budget Your Trip is all about finding out how much everything costs so that you can travel cheaper and longer. Created by avid travelers Laurie and Bryan, our goal is to help you plan your next trip on the right budget. With average daily travel costs that are calculated from the budgets of real travelers, plus an analysis of hotel and tour prices, you can find out how much money you need to plan your next adventure. We also have plenty of travel advice, accommodation reviews, and activity suggestions.

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