Luckily, Nelson is full of free outdoor activities for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. From challenging hikes to relaxing beaches, check out these free things to do in Nelson and add them to your itinerary!
Hike through Grampians Reserve
This is a great walk for some good exercise. The track begins at Collingwood Street and follows a steep path through a residential area before reaching the start of the reserve. The track levels off for a bit, with a final short steep climb at the end to reach the tower (with some sheep munching around, just FYI). After about an hour you see gorgeous views of the town and the shoreline. Trails are well marked and there are clear maps at intersections indicating additional tracks, durations and exits and entrances. These hikes are moderate and satisfying, you’ll reach the top in no time!
Relax at Tahunanui Beach
The perfect outdoor activity for a sunny day, Tahunanui Beach is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The beach is located 10-minute drive from the Nelson city center. Alternatively, save gas money by biking for 25 minutes or walking for an hour along the scenic coastal Rock Road. There is plenty of room for walkers and cyclists along this path.
Hike or Bike the Dun Mountain Trail
The start of this track is a 45 minute walk outside of town but well worth it! Despite the fact that I set out on this hike with sandals (that broke after 10 minutes) and an almost empty water bottle, I don’t regret this 2 hour barefoot walk. The 2-hour return hike to Tantragee Saddle is relatively flat and has some great, clear mountain views. For trampers or mountain bikers it is 13km from the carpark to Third House point, and another 6km to Coppermine Saddle.
Explore Nelson’s Saturday Market
Every Saturday from 8am-1pm, Nelson’s famous farmers market pops up at Montgomery Square. This event is bustling with locals and travelers browsing rows of antiques, local products like soaps and clothing, healthy street foods, homemade ice creams, and artisan baked goods. I tried an afghan (dessert with chocolate and corn flakes), talked briefly with a local wool artisan, and had a deliciously healthy raw chocolate caramel slice. There is something for everyone at this fun and affordable market!
Hike to the Center of New Zealand
A 20 minute uphill climb just outside town brings you to a hilltop – the center of New Zealand! The summit has clear views of the Tasman Mountains, Nelson City and Tasman Bay. There’s a small plaque explaining what exactly the ‘center’ of New Zealand means – you’ll have to hike to the top to find out! Walking to this point is one of the most gratifying free outdoor activities to do in Nelson.
I hope you will have the chance to check out these awesome outdoor activities to do in Nelson, New Zealand. What were your favorites? Let me know in the comments!
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