THE NELSON REGION
The settlement of Nelson was founded in 1841 by Edward Gibbon Wakefield's New Zealand Company. It was part of a grandiose scheme to systematically colonise the whole country with small farms clustered around centrally located towns. Today the city has retained much of its heritage and is renowned for its parks and gardens as well as its stately homes and restored cottages, many of which date back to the 1860s. You can still see many of the quaint workmen's cottages in South Street and Richmond Avenue. The grand mansion, Melrose is on Brougham Street and on Nile Street East you will find Bishop's School, featuring a display of textbooks and items dating back to 1844. On Trafalgar Square, Nelson's Christ Church Cathedral, completed in 1925, is the third and most imposing church to be built on the site. Founders Heritage Park on Atawhai Drive is a reconstruction of a colonial town, featuring two separate sections connected by an operating railway. The Suter Art Gallery on Bridge Street, was established in 1898 and is the third oldest art museum in the country. It houses a permanent collection of nationally significant paintings and lithographs including works by Lindauer, Van der Velden and Woollaston.
At Isel Park in Stoke, the spacious grounds feature rhododendrons and azaleas growing under the shelter of century-old trees that were brought to the area from all over the world by sea captains, at the request of wealthy landowner Thomas Marsden. Isel House is a stately two-storey home built of stone that has been restored and is now in use as a gallery and museum. Behind it is the Nelson Provincial Museum, the oldest in the country, featuring a large collection of Maori artefacts and an extensive array of historical photographs from the area. In Stoke you will also find Woodstock, a notable cob house built in the 1850s and Broadgreen built in 1855, which is one of the largest rammed-earth cob houses in the country. A costumed guide will take you through this fine example of a gentleman's residence that has been restored and furnished with careful attention to period detail and is set in beautiful gardens
Today Nelson is renowned for the quality of its local clay and has become famous for its pottery, glass blowing and wood carving as well as other arts and crafts. The flourishing arts and crafts movement is supported by numerous galleries, pottery trails, markets and museums. You can visit the world of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars Museum and take a drive up onto Botanical Hill for panoramic views across the city. The vineyards in the area are noted for the quality of their grapes and distinctive wines while an array of fresh produce is available from the local orchards which thrive in the warm climate for which Nelson is renowned. If you take a drive west out along the coast you can visit the beautiful sandy beach at Kaiteriteri or drive over the famous Takaka Hill, known locally as the Marble Mountain, to the Waikoropupu freshwater springs and on to Collingwood and the Cape Farewell Spit. South of Nelson the scenic highway leads to the Buller River and the Nelson Lakes National Park as well as the forest clad Buller Gorge out to the Paparoa National Park on the West Coast.