Nelson, New Zealand: A Photo Diary From The South Island

Rainbow Nelson New Zealand |
Planning a trip to New Zealand? Be sure to visit Nelson! 

When I was planning my round the world trip I decided to start my round the world trip in New Zealand. I had a friend named Helen from high school who lived there and I thought a mix of new places, as well as familiar faces, would be the best for my extended time away from home. My friend Helen lived in Nelson so I added it to my trip plans.

After flying over a dozen hours to Auckland from Los Angeles, I spent a night there before moving on. I would have flown from Auckland to Nelson but the tickets were expensive and I didn’t want to backtrack and go from Christchurch to Nelson and back since I was planning to go south to Queenstown. Since I was taking a bus to Nelson, I stopped in Wellington for a night. I rode the Intercity Bus Lines from Wellington to Picton and then from Picton to Nelson. From Wellington I took a ferry to Picton and then from Picton, I took another bus to Nelson. I zipped through these places because my birthday was coming up and I wanted to spend it with Helen.

Booking my bus tickets on the internet was pretty easy. It wasn’t particular about which buses I was taking, I would just choose which bus had the cheapest price. I usually chose between Intercity and the Naked Bus. As much as I’d like to have rented a van and camped throughout the country, I was traveling solo. Budget-wise it wasn’t going to work for me. I was pretty good about not squandering my funds since New Zealand was the first stop on my RTW trip and I was determined to adhere to being frugal.

Nelson New Zealand Town |

Here’s a photo of the downtown area of Nelson. A small, quiet quaint town yet so awesome!

My friend Helen picked me up when I arrived in Nelson. Helen, her husband Gary, and their two kids live just outside of Nelson in an area called Upper Moutere. They have a large property with a vineyard. Pretty rad! Helen and I hadn’t seen each other in years. We were part of the same crew at our very small all-girls private school. The last time I had seen Helen was at her wedding to Gary in our hometown of Vancouver a few years prior to my trip. Before the wedding, I hadn’t seen much of Helen because moved to the UK after college. We had so much to catch up on!!

Helen and Gary's Home In Nelson |

Helen and Gary’s home

Ruby In Nelson |


Eamon In Nelson |

Eamon was a bit shy at first

Stella the dog in Nelson New Zealand |

Can’t forget about the family dog, Stella!

New Zealand is all about nature so on my first day in town, Helen took me on a hike to Cable Bay. It’s not far from where Helen and Gary live. I loved the scenery and being able to catch up on all the years as we hiked. It wasn’t hard at all and it was about 8 km.

Cable Bay Hike in Nelson New Zealand |

Of course some sheep and their shepherd

Cable Bay Hike in Nelson New Zealand |

I almost got run over by a herd of stampeding cows

Cable Bay Hike in Nelson New Zealand |

Stampeding cows

Cable Bay Hike in Nelson New Zealand |

I’ve known Helen since we were 13. We’re still super goofy after all this time.

Cable Bay Hike in Nelson New Zealand |

Beautiful views

Cable Bay Hike in Nelson New Zealand |

Cable Bay Hike in Nelson New Zealand |

More cows on the hike

The best part about the hike was our post-hike meal at the Cable Bay Cafe (I wrote about it in more detail here). The food was so fresh and delicious. This place is only open in the summer so I was pretty lucky to eat here.

Cable Bay Cafe -

Green lipped local mussels with arrabbiata sauce

While I was in Nelson, Helen also took me to experience some local wineries. Prior to my trip to New Zealand, I did not care for white wine. The trip changed everything and now I love a good Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. A few people told me about Neudorf and it is known to be one of the best wineries in the country. It’s not far from where Helen lives so we spent the day there sampling amazing wines and walking around the property. If you happen to come across Neudorf wines outside of New Zealand, buy as much as you can!

Neudorf Vineyards In Nelson New Zealand |


Neudorf Vineyards In Nelson New Zealand |


Neudorf Vineyards In Nelson New Zealand |

One day Helen and Gary took me out to Abel Tasman National Park. They have a boat and we went to a beach that is only accessible by boat or a multi-day hike. It was pretty amazing!

Abel Tasman National Park |

Abel Tasman National Park |

I was on a boat! In New Zealand!

Abel Tasman National Park |

See! On a boat for real!

Split Apple Rock Abel Tasman National Park |

Split Apple Rock

I celebrated my birthday when I was in Nelson. It was nice to celebrate with an old friend across the world.

Rainbow Nelson New Zealand |

Rainbow Nelson New Zealand |

A massive rainbow appeared on my birthday!

Victoria Sponge Cake |

Helen baked me a local favorite, a Victoria Sponge Cake

Birthday In New Zealand |

The kids were more thrilled about my birthday I think!

Birthday In New Zealand |

Eamon loved my cake!

Birthday In New Zealand |

Ruby gave me tomatoes (and a courgette) from their garden

I didn’t get to spend as much time as I’d like in Nelson. We were hoping to get to Rabbit Island but I didn’t have enough time. I also ate at a great restaurant called the Boatshed right on the water. It’s owned by Helen and Gary’s friend. We had a great meal but I didn’t bring my camera with me that afternoon. I remember snacking on whitebait for the first time. Yum! There was even one vineyard where we sat, drank, and snacked in an olive grove. I wish I had photos from there too!

What a blessing it is to have old friends who live far away. I used to always say I’d visit but then I finally got a chance during my round the world trip. It was an amazing experience in Nelson and I’ll never forget it. Many thanks to Helen, Gary, Ruby, and Eamon for having me. I hope I can go back again in the future!


Round The World Girl is a blog by Arnette, a solo female traveler, lover of adventure, coffee, tropical islands, and unforgettable meals. She shares a retrospective of her 19 month, 19 country round the world trip, adventures both near and far, destination guides, helpful tips and tricks for travel, as well as tips and reviews of her favorite things.

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