Nelson is a small, cute little town on the South Island of New Zealand where everything closes early and after making a few turns you’re back in the center of town. I was worried that booking four nights would be too much time in this small town but it turned out to be perfect.
My first night I recovered from the ferry ride from Wellington to Picton (which was lovely) and then the bus ride from Picton to Nelson. When I arrived, I searched for food and quickly discovered that everything closes early. Not surprising for New Zealand but 4:30 p.m. seemed a bit extreme. Of course there were some places open for dinner but if you wanted to go to the café across the street after 4:30 p.m., forget it.
My goal was to travel light. I left my massive suitcase in Wellington and took my carry on backpack and my purse. However, when I left Wellington to get on the ferry I noticed that I was struggling to carry 5 little bags – my carry on backpack, my crossover purse, a tote bag, my light day-pack, and a grocery bag with snacks. The moment I got to Nelson, I broke down and went to the nearest luggage shop and purchased a tiny carry-on suitcase (the carry-on suitcases here seem to be a lot smaller than US standards). It turned out to be perfect because now I can fit my clothes in it and the odd things like body wash, which I was carrying around in a tote bag. Plus, it’s really cute.
The Miyazu Japanese Garden was a bit outside of the city but still walkable even though the lady on the street, who I asked for directions, warned me it would be a long, long walk. I always try to carry a bottle of water even though after only drinking half of it I might need to find a bathroom because, you know, small bladder. I passed through a suburby area and Founders Park before finding the garden. When I finally reached the garden my first thought was: “This is beautiful.” My second thought was: “Where are all of the people?” It was quite empty and freaked me out a bit. I guess I can blame that on being a city girl. I imagine this is where celebrities go when they want some personal space – I’m looking at you Justin Timberlake.
When I decided to head back, I walked along the sidewalk passing one suburban house after another and I was sure that I was going in the right direction when I heard a voice calling out “Hello”. (Spoiler Alert: I was walking in the wrong direction!)
I turned to see a man by his car in his driveway. I waved. Was he being friendly or creepy? I couldn’t tell. Kiwis are known to be really, really nice. However, I wondered why he didn’t say hello to the old white lady walking slightly behind me.
I kept walking as I passed the houses and a few stray restaurants. Nelson isn’t really a party town. It’s more of a small retirement/family town. I was grateful for this because I booked an 8 bed mixed room – a bit too much for my introverted side, but it was OK. No one got crazy drunk or brought a stranger into the room in the middle of the night. There was that German guy who snored REALLY loud in the middle of the night and I almost threw something at him. However, the really old couple from the UK who stayed in our room were possibly in their 70s and possibly the cutest couple ever. They were so worried about waking others up and I had to reassure them that it was fine.
Nelson is not a party town. It’s more of a chill and relax town. And I really liked it. And it turns out people just say hello to each other in this part of the world. And, yes, I did find a bathroom on my way to the city, just in case you were wondering.
There was also the Queen’s Garden which is in the city and a great place to sit and read a book. And Church Hill was a nice place to wander over to and take selfies. I discovered some cool restaurants, chilled out and took a couple of day trips (blog posts soon about these trips).
Want to see pictures of all of the cool things I’ve been doing on the South Island? Follow me on Instagram! Though I must warn you, I take way too many pictures.