The Nelson Food Guide
The cuisine says a lot about a place and it’s no different in Nelson. Its sunny climate and fertile soils combined with passionate artisans explain the array of wineries, breweries and all kinds of food producers in the region.
Taste is such an integral part of the Nelson experience that there’s even a 177km bike trail dedicated to its foodie experiences. So stop by this gastronomical haven at the top of the South Island and plan your food tours, places to eat and accommodation with this foodie guide to Nelson.
Foodie Activities in Nelson
- Cycle the Great Taste Trail
- Visit Nelson’s wineries
- Check out Nelson’s breweries
- Take a look around one of Nelson’s markets
- Tour Pic’s Peanut Butter World
- Do a helicopter fishing or wine tour
- Indulge in high tea at the Melrose House Cafe
- Visit Upper Moutere and its artisans
- Treat yourself to Nelson’s bars, restaurants and cafes.
For more details on each experience and their locations, see the 9 Things to Do in Nelson for Foodies.
Food Tours in Nelson
Food and drink isn’t just something to tag onto your itinerary to keep you going in Nelson, it’s an experience in itself – so much so that there is a whole cycle trail dedicated to exploring the artisanry experiences in Tasman Bay called the Great Taste Trail. The 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.
Amp the experience up a notch or two with a foodie helicopter tour with Helicopters Nelson New Zealand. While they offer flights to just about anywhere doing anything in the region, their foodie offerings include the 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. Find out more about Helicopters Nelson New Zealand on Viator and Tripadvisor.
And, of course, don’t miss Pic’s Peanut Butter World, which offers free tours of its peanut butter factory on weekdays and an alternative tour on Saturdays. 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!
For more food tours, like visiting Nelson’s wineries and craft breweries, as well as the markets, check out the 9 Things to Do in Nelson for Foodies.
The Best Restaurants in Nelson
Man, where do we get started with the restaurants in Nelson?! It’s by far one of the best cities in New Zealand for dining, where every night brings something new to the table.
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. That leaves much more on the menu, such as Urban Eatery (278 Hardy Street) specialising in fresh local produce, especially oysters. We also love Styx (272 Wakefield Quay) for their seasonal menu with everything cooked from scratch from breakfast until dinner.
Bistro 276 (276 Trafalgar Street), previously called Ford’s, serves up contemporary New Zealand cuisine that’s suited to vegans all the way to carnivores. The Indian Cafe (94 Collingwood Street) is Nelson’s favourite Indian restaurant with three locations in Nelson city, Richmond and Stoke.
Finally, anyone open to tasty wholesome food should check out East St. (8 Church Street) offering a groovy atmosphere, vegetarian eats and sometimes live music.
Other honourable mentions include Babagatto (7 Morrison Street), Paasha (161 Hardy Street), Harry’s Hawker House & Bar (296 Trafalgar Street) and Mama Cod (300 Trafalgar Street).
Alternative Things to Do in Nelson
Nelson isn’t just about eating, although it mostly is. There’s a huge range of activities to help complete a stellar itinerary in the sunniest city. Some of the other things to do include:
- Visit Founders Park
- See native birds at the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary
- Browse the Suter Art Gallery
- Take a trip to the Abel Tasman National Park…
- … then the Kahurangi National Park…
- … the Nelson Lakes National Park
- Do the Cable Bay Walkway
- Relax on Tahunanui Beach
- Walk to the Centre of New Zealand…