Travel Guide to Nelson Wine Region

The Nelson wine region is located in the northern part of New Zealand’s South Island. This beautiful region is characterized by sheltered coastlines, rugged mountains, and long sandy beaches.  The center of this wine region is the historical town of Nelson which is perfectly situated on the banks of Tasman Bay. Around Nelson, the first vines of the region were planted by the town’s early settlers. The Nelson wine region is not only well known for excellent wines but also for enjoying craft beers.


Check out the list of Wine Tastings and Tours in Nelson wine region.

Explore the Nelson wine region with us. Follow the travel guide we created for you to discover more about:

A wide range of the best New Zealand wines

Places to visit in Nelson

Natural spots to explore

What to eat and drink in Nelson

The mountainous landscape of the Nelson region
The mountainous landscape of the Nelson wine region, New Zealand

A Wide Range of The Best New Zealand Wines

The wines of the Nelson wine region are well known and respected for the use of highly aromatic grape varietals. The range of temperatures across the region mean that a range of wines are produced that pleasure the palates of every wine lover. Nelson wines should not be missed by all who enjoy excellent wines with excellent flavours.

Sub-Regions of Nelson

The wine region of Nelson is divided into two sub-regions of the Moutere Hills and the Waimea Plains.

The Moutere Hills is the warmer and wetter of the sub-region. This area is known for its gravelly clay type soils which provide richness, flavor, and texture to the wines. The Pinot Noir wines of the Moutere Hills are easily recognizable by their fine tannins, while the Chardonnays have a high level of depth and complexity. This sub-region is the most popular winemaking area of the region as it is where the first vines of Nelson were planted.

The Waimea Plains sub-region gets its name from the Maori words meaning ‘river garden’. This name was given to this area because of its arable cops, fields of hops, and rolling orchards. It is also here where the wine region of Nelson has seen the most growth in more recent times. The terroir of the Waimea Plains is stony with alluvial soils. The influence of the sea provides the region with a maritime climate which allows the region to produce wines that are light and fresh, with aromas that are wonderfully bright. The Pinot Noir of the Waimea Plains can be described as perfumed while the Chardonnays are rich, vibrant, expressive, and highly aromatic.

Grape Varieties

Red varieties: Pinot Noir

White varieties: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc

Wines to Try in Nelson Wine Region

The unique and specific diurnal temperature changes in the Nelson region mean that it is perfect for aromatic wines. Thanks to this, the white wines of the region have crisp flavors with notes of green apples and citrus. The most commonly produced wine in the Nelson wine region is Sauvignon Blanc, followed by Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer.

Nelson Sauvignon Blanc wine is an elegant wine with restrained flavours and expressions. The wine has a wonderful texture and is crisp, with hints of tropical fruits. These flavours are met with those of fresh herbs.

The Chardonnays of the region can also be described as elegant in style. Nelson Chardonnay has a great level of depth and complexity that gives it a superb level of purity and intensity. Nelson Chardonnays are known for having excellent longevity.

The other wines of the region including Riesling, Pinot Gris are Gewurztraminer are also highly expressive with a fine level of acidity and rich flavors.

Discover Wineries in Nelson to visit for wine tourism experiences.


Places to Visit in Nelson

An Iconic Walking Route in The Town of Nelson

The Centre of New Zealand Walk can be found in the town of Nelson. This iconic walk was given this name because it was the central survey point of the country in the 1800s. This scenic walk begins at the Botanical Hill where New Zealand’s first-ever rugby game was played. From there, there are various route options that one can take to reach the top. Once at the top, there are the most spectacular views over the whole of Nelson. After summiting the peak, there are different paths that can be taken back down. One of these paths passes through the well-known Branford Park and the Black Hole swimming pool that is perfect for cooling down in the hot summer months. This short but steep walk is family-friendly and perfect for those wanting to experience the true beauty of Nelson.

Nelson City, New Zealand
Motueka – Small, Vibrant Town

Motueka is a small town with a wonderful atmosphere located in Nelson Tasman. This town is well known for its vibrant café culture and its local community of artists and hipsters. Motueka becomes particularly busy during the harvest period. During this time, local farmers and hops growers make use of seasonal workers which brings many people to the town looking for work and an interesting new experience. Motueka is also famous for being the gateway to the Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National Parks.

The most popular attractions in Motueka are the interesting town center and the vibrant Sunday Market which showcases the local arts and produce. For the most adventurous visitors, don’t miss the Janie Seddon Shipwreck near the Motueka Waterfront and the Motueka Saltwater Baths at the Riwaka Resurgence.

World of Wearable Art (WOW) and Classic Cars Museum

The World of Wearable Art was established in Nelson more than 30 years in order to bring together the worlds of fashion, design, and art into theatrical performances. The idea behind the World of Wearable Art is to promote local art by taking it off gallery walls and putting it onto moving bodies. Today, one of the most popular events in New Zealand is the World of Wearable Art Awards Competition which attracts participants from 40 different countries around the world. Alongside the World of Wearable Art is the Classic Cars Museum which displays the largest private car collection, which made up of rare and classic cars.

Take a trip to the World of Wearable Art to experience art in motion and the best in classic cars. While there be sure to enjoy a meal at the Museum café which is known for its tasty delicacies.

Hidden Gem – Experience a Slice of Heaven at Cable Bay

Cable Bay is located 20 minutes from the city center of Nelson and is considered by many to be the hidden gem of this region. This bay is known for its crystal clear, bright blue waters and fine rock beaches. These beaches are perfect for swimming, kayaking, and fishing. When the tide is out, there are a number of exposed rock pools that can be explored and that are teeming with sea life. For a relaxing day out, visitors can stroll along the walkway that overlooks the bay and provides wonderful views of the surrounding areas. For the more adventurous. There is also the Cable Bay Adventure Park where one can enjoy the world’s longest skywire, quad biking, mountain biking, and paintballing. In Cable Bay, there is a range of accommodation facilities to suit the need of every traveler.


Extraordinary Nature at its Best

The Nelson wine region is surrounded by endless breathtaking beauty. In this region, where the sun never stops shining. Nelson is teeming with national parks and protected areas that form a natural playground for all nature lovers. The combination of land and sea in Nelson are dramatically beautiful and a true wonder to witness.


Abel Tasman National Park – The Most Visited National Park of Nelson

The Abel Tasman National Park is one of the most beautiful natural areas of New Zealand and offers a wide range of activities for all who visit. These activities including walking the Abel Tasman Coast Track – a 53km walk through lush forests and sandy beaches; canyoning and baselining down granite cliffs; kayaking along with the crystal clear blue bays; spending a night under the incredible stars; seeing aerial views of the park from scenic flights; enjoying a cruise of a trip on a sailing boat; visiting the secluded Tonga Island; visiting the Split Apple Rock and paddling along the extensive coastline.

Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, New Zealand
Golden Bay and Takaka

Experience the Warmth and Hospitality of Nelson

The locals of the Nelson region consider the Golden Bay and Takaka as places that warmly welcome all visitors into these arty and vibrant communities. Golden Bay and Takaka are known for their rows of crafty art stores. There is a definite magical atmosphere between Golden Bay and Takaka and it is perhaps this air of magic that made it one of the shooting locations for the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies. When visiting Golden Bay and Takaka there is a wide range of accommodation available from rustic backpackers to luxury escapes. Be sure not to miss the chance to visit the famous Mussel Inn for the best in live local mucus and the Te Waikoropupu Springs for some rest and relaxation.

Kahurangi National Park – Nelson’s Treasured Possession

The name Kahurangi when translated means ‘treasured possession’ which is exactly what the Kahurangi National Park is. This is New Zealand’s second largest national park and covers 45 000 ha of land. This expanse of land covers various altitudes and landscapes and is home to a wide range of wonderful flora and fauna. The Kahurangi National Park is unique in that it is home to the largest population of kiwi in New Zealand. This national park offers wonderful walking trails to experience the natural beauty of the area. There are also tracks for mountain biking and scenic helicopter flights for the most adventurous.


Perfect Location for Food and Wine Lovers

Nelson is well known across New Zealand for its wonderful artisan products. The incredibly warm and sunny climate of Nelson means that farmers here are able to produce the highest quality ingredients, used to produce award-winning food – a cannot be missed experience for any food lover. Once in Nelson, make sure to visit Wednesday Farmer’s market where you will be able to discover abundance of local products such as, bread, artisan chocolates, pesto, honey and jams, meats and salami.


Fish and Chips – The Staple Meal of New Zealand

According to the official encyclopedia of New Zealand, fish and chips is the staple meal of the country. The fish that is used in traditional New Zealand fish and chips is traditionally either red cod, elephant fish, or blue warehou. The most classic fish and chips recipes call for the fish to be battered in a batter made with beer. If the recipe suggests light beer, this is sometimes replaced with chicken stock or ginger ale. Feel like a true local and enjoy a warm New Zealand day enjoying beer battered fish and chips fresh from the ocean.

Craft Beers of Nelson

Nelson region is famous for the production of some of the excellent craft beers of New Zealand. You can find craft beer breweries across the city of Nelson and all the way out to Golden bay. Beermaking in Nelson started in the 19th century when the first German settlers came here and found the ideal location for the cultivation of hops. Till today, many family-owned breweries keep the tradition alive and produce some of the best beer you can taste in New Zealand.

If you are a beer lover, you must take tour to some the breweries, where you will offered to taste divrsity of craft beers and local food.

Fish and Chips
Fish and Chips
The Peanut Butter King

Pic Picot is a local businessman from Auckland, New Zealand. His introduction to food began when working in his father’s grocery store as a young man. At the age of 55 Pic Picot had made enough money to retire and in his spare time began experimenting with making peanut butter in his own kitchen. Today, Pic Picot has an empire based on what many consider to be the best and most delicious peanut butter in the world. Visitors to New Zealand should not miss the chance to enjoy some of Pic’s Peanut Butter or the many wonderful treats that are made using it.


Share about Nelson Wine Region:

Region Highlights

Surface: 1154
Wineries: 25
Soil: Gravelly silt loam, clay, alluvial and sandy
Climate: Mediterranean
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Map of Wineries in Nelson wine region

Discover the long wine tradition of Nelson and discover some of the best wineries in this region

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List of Wineries in Nelson wine region

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