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What to do in Nelson & Queenstown

The lovely towns of Nelson and Queenstown bookend our New Zealand: Alpine & Coastal Hiking tour on the South Island. We highly recommend spending an extra day or two in both of them if you have the time. Nelson is a charming artsy town while Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand—perhaps of the South Pacific!

nelson

At just over 50,000 people, Nelson is the South Island’s second largest city and is known for its vibrant local arts scene. An hour and a half walk from the city center will get you to most of the suggestions in this guide (except the last three on this list).

Nelson visitor center

Located on Trafalgar Street. Visitors’ centers are always a good place to stop first for maps, information on special events, and restaurant recommendations.

Montgomery Square Markets

The famous Nelson Market takes place every Saturday and showcases the best local arts, crafts, and produce. Monty’s Sunday Market has a fun flea market vibe with antiques, new, and used items.

tahunanui beach

Considered by some to be New Zealand’s best beach for its proximity to the town, you’ll find people swimming, running, wind and kite surfing, paddle boarding, and much more.

world of wearable art & classic cars museum

Housing the bizarre and remarkable garments of the World of Wearable Art Awards Show as well as a fascinating collection of collectible cars.

maitai valley

Take the Maitai River Walkway through Nelson into the river valley. Walk, run, cycle, or mountain bike on this relatively flat, east path along the river.

Mccashin’s Brewery

The makers of Nelson’s favorite bear, Black Mac. Brewery tours are available as are tastings at the bar.

Nelson Lakes National park

Great hiking with few crowds, you’ll find two beautiful glacial lakes and beech forest. Head to the Park Visitors Center for information.

Farewell split

This wetland is a renowned bird sanctuary and offers a beautiful landscape of huge sand dunes, a vast salt marsh, and panoramic views of Golden Bay. Plan at least two days for this excursion.

Queenstown

Queenstown may be in one of the most scenic spots in the world, and it is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. This small town is easily walkable and a day or two post-tour is most enjoyable.

Queenstown visitor center

Located on Shotover Street, find maps, restaurant suggestions, and operator recommendations for bungy jumping, rafting, paragliding, canyoning, mountain biking, jetboating, and more.

skyline gondola

Take the gondola to the summit of the hill overlooking the town (you can walk it, too). Opt to take the three-wheeled “luge” back down.

milford sound

One of New Zealand’s most famous destinations for its breathtaking fjord landscape. The Milford Track is perhaps the country’s best-known hike.

doubtful sound

Less crowded, larger, equally beautiful, and more remote than Milford Sound, this peaceful area is well worth a visit. Plan time for some hiking.

te anau glowworm cave

Evening tours will take you through the darkness where hundreds of glowworms illuminate the underground world.

Queenstown Wine trail

Rent a car or bike and do a self-guided tour yourself, jump on a small-group tour, or enjoy a private tour. Inquire at the Visitor Centre.

Questions?

Our dedicated team of travel experts are here to help.

1-800-941-8010

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