Food Tours and Activities in Nelson
Across the fertile plains and river valleys surrounding Nelson, combined with a sunny climate and a group of passionate and talented locals, a foodie’s paradise awaits. Wine and craft beer are at the forefront of Nelson’s food scene, but you’ll also find so many hidden gems like cheese artisans, a peanut butter factory, spirit distilleries, markets and so much that they’ve created a 177km bike trail to visit them all.
So, find food tours and activities with this list of the best things to do in Nelson for foodies. Plus, get more travel advice in The Foodie Guide to Nelson.
1. Cycle the Great Taste Trail
Nelson is so nutty about its food that there is a whole cycle trail dedicated to exploring the artisanry experiences of the Tasman Bay! The Great Taste Trail is a flat 177km (110-mile) trail taking anywhere between one to four days depending on how much you want to do. While natural beauty is just a small part of this coastal trail, it’s the boutique shopping, fruit stalls, cafes, craft beer pubs and winery restaurants that give this trail flavour. Plan your ride with Kiwi Journeys (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), Wheelie Fantastic Cycle Tours or The Gentle Cycling Company. Learn more about the trail in Mountain Biking in Nelson Tasman.
Location: Between the Nelson i-SITE and Riwaka.
2. Visit Nelson’s Wineries
From the Moutere Hills to the foothills of Richmond, Nelson Tasman is scattered with vineyards, many of which with cellar doors to taste the wines produced there. Either visit the wineries independently by car or by bike, or join one of the driving tours of the region so you don’t have to worry about a designated driver. Nelson Tours and Travel, Bay Tours, Wine, Art & Wilderness (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) and more offer winery-hopping tours to make the most of the Nelson wine region. Learn more about the wineries and where to find them in the 24 Nelson Wineries on the Nelson Wine Trail.
3. Check Out Nelson’s Breweries
If you’re more of a beer sort of person, no worries. Nelson has plenty of that too thanks to the hops grown in the region since the 1840s! With that, there are several craft breweries in and around Nelson, some offering tours and others offering tastings in their restaurant. Check out the breweries to visit in the 8 Craft Breweries in Nelson You Have to Try or book at brewery-hopping tour with the likes of Wine, Art & Wilderness (on Viator or Tripadvisor), Nelson Tours and Travel, Day Out and more.
4. Take a Look Around One of Nelson’s Markets
Keep your Saturday morning free because The Nelson Market is not to be missed! A tradition for more than 40 years, The Nelson Market in Montgomery Square is a popular event with all sorts of foodie treats, including homemade teas, honey, jams, sodas, cow/goat/sheep cheese, juices, nuts, chocolate and the list goes on and on. You can also check out Monty’s Sunday Market in the same place on Sundays. Alternatively, the Motueka Sunday Market is another huge event where you’ll find more local artisanry products and fresh produce.
Location: The Nelson Market and Monty’s Sunday Market – Montgomery Square, Nelson city centre. Motueka Sunday Market – Decks Reserve Carpark, Wallace Street, Motueka, approximately 48km (30 miles) from Nelson city centre.
5. Tour Pic’s Peanut Butter World
Yes, Nelson is also home to one of New Zealand’s most-loved peanut butter brands, Pic’s Peanut Butter. Their factory is the base for making the favourite morning spread, as well as their factory tours on weekdays only. You’ll get to tour the working factory, tasting creative peanut butter blends and even trying your hand at making your own. It’s fun for the whole family, as featured in the 10 Things to Do in Nelson with Kids.
Location: 49 Saxton Road, Stoke, approximately 11km (7 miles) from Nelson city centre.
6. Do a Helicopter Fishing or Wine Tour
Amp the foodie experiences up a notch or two with a food-orientated helicopter tour! Helicopters Nelson New Zealand might offer flights to just about anywhere doing anything in the region, but their Marlborough Vineyard Discoverer, flying to a Marlborough winery for tastings and a gourmet lunch, and D’Urville Indulgence, for helicopter reef fishing and having your catch prepared for lunch on the island, is a must for foodies! Find out more about Helicopters Nelson New Zealand on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Nelson Airport, Dakota Street, approximately 7km (4 miles) from Nelson city centre.
7. Indulge in High Tea at the Melrose House Cafe
To celebrate a special occasion or “just because”, book yourself a high tea experience at the Melrose House Cafe. Served on antique china tiered platters amidst a historic home, the high tea at Melrose House Cafe feels like sophisticated dining from a bygone era. Indulge in a selection of petite sweet and savoury treats accompanied by your choice of loose-leaf tea, locally-roasted coffee or a homemade soda or lemonade.
Location: Brougham Street, Nelson South, approximately 1.6km (1 mile) from Nelson city centre.
8. Visit Upper Moutere and its Artisans
This small village outside of Nelson is a haven of (and for) foodies! Collectively called the “Moutere Artisans”, Moutere is home to food and drink producers selling sheep and cows’ cheese, gourmet mushrooms, rich olive oil, traditional-style cider, preserves made with local berries, artisan sausages and, of course, wine – lots of wine. Check out the produce sold in the various cellar doors, Moutere Inn, Moutere Post Office, Neudorf Olives and at Nelson’s markets (see point #4).
Location: Upper Moutere, approximately 37km (23 miles) from Nelson city centre.
9. Treat Yourself to Nelson’s Bars, Restaurants and Cafes
Finally, simply sit down and dine at one of Nelson’s exquisite restaurants to understand how good the local fare is. We’ve already listed fine dining in The Luxury Guide to Nelson, romantic dining in The Honeymoon Guide to Nelson and street eats in Cheap Eats in Nelson. Even with that, there’s much more on the menu, such as Urban Eatery specialising in fresh local produce, especially oysters. We also love Styx for their seasonal menu with everything cooked from scratch. Bistro 276, previously called Ford’s, serves up contemporary New Zealand cuisine that’s suited from vegans to carnivores, while The Indian Cafe is Nelson’s favourite Indian restaurant with three locations across the city. Finally, anyone open to tasty wholesome food should check out East St. offering a groovy atmosphere, vegetarian eats and sometimes live music.
Locations: Urban Eatery – 278 Hardy Street. Styx – 272 Wakefield Quay. Bistro 276 – 276 Trafalgar Street. The Indian Cafe – 94 Collingwood Street. East St. – 8 Church Street.