Sun, sea and stunning scenery: a weekend mini break in Nelson

Friday saw me heading over to Nelson, in the north of the South Island, for a work trip.  Very convenient, I thought, for adding on a couple of days and making a mini weekend trip of it.  And so after work on Friday, Karl joined me for a wee autumn break.

Nelson is the second oldest settled city in New Zealand, and was first established in 1841.  It is known as being the sunniest city in the country, though in 2014 it was Whakatane, with Nelson in fifth.  It is only a short hop over the water from Wellington, and so really quite a surprise we hadn’t already gone there.

We stayed at Villa 10 Waterfront Apartments in a lovely apartment with a fantastic view over the water.

IMG_7514Evening view

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The apartment
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Out to the balcony (note the coffee table painted with fish)

IMG_7545 Hand painted cushions

We slept in a four poster bed, with a canopy above made by the owner that depicts the night sky, with constellations that can be seen from the house.  At night, when you put the lights on and lie beneath, you can see the stars twinkling.  Quite special and rather lovely.

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The bedroom, with four poster bed and the canopy

For dinner on our first night, we headed down to Wakefield Quay and to Harbour Light Bistro, where we had an excellent meal. Karl had a steak which he said was beautiful, and I opted for the fish of the day which was blue cod, and also superb. Since we were kind of on holiday, we actually had desert – affogato with Amaretto.  A first class dinner served by friendly staff in a nice atmosphere and highly recommended.

IMG_7527Affogato….

Saturday morning was a bit cloudy, but it was still a warm and lovely day.  We started off at the market, where I was tempted by this hand dyed silk scarf from Unique Threads.

IMG_7547A one off silk scarf

From there we headed over to Mapua, or more specifically, Mapua Wharf, situated on the Waimea Estuary, a short drive (25 minutes) from Nelson. The area is a collection of specialist shops, cafes and a microbrewery and a busy and bustling wee place.  There was a group of girls jumping in the water, only pausing to grab bags of chips, another group of small children fishing, squeeling with delight when one of them caught a fish and people browsing shops and enjoying just looking at the water.  We had lunch in a place we had been recommended, the Jellyfish Cafe and Bar.  We both opted for the ‘pie of the day’, which was a rich base of beef, chorizo and paprika.  I enjoyed a local pinot noir with mine, making a thoroughly enjoyable and special Saturday lunch.

IMG_7540Gourmet lunchtime pie

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Mapua

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By the wharf

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Looking over to Rabbit Island

We stopped over at Rimu Grove vineyard to taste some wine, particularly enjoying a lovely, buttery chardonnay, before returning to the apartment to read and relax.

I woke early on Sunday, and enjoyed a stunning early morning view over the water from our balcony.  After a leisurely breakfast, we headed into town and to the Nelson Provincial Museum, where we viewed the permanent display about the history of the town and a great little display celebrating the 150 years of the local newspaper.  I love small exhibits like this as you learn so much about a town and its people from actual news of the day and at the time.

IMG_7550  Sunday morning

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A little bit later when the sun came out

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Another view from the apartment

From there we walked up to the cathedral. The diocese of Nelson was created in 1859 by Queen Victoria and the first church built on top of Church Hill in 1851. The granite steps leading up to the cathedral from Trafalgar Street are named after Thomas Cawthron, who was the founder of the Cawthron Institute, a scientific research centre in Nelson.  In 1925 work began on the current building which is made of Tākaka marble. The concrete tower was added in 1965.

IMG_7556Walking up to the cathedral

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The cathedral

It was far too short a time to see much of the area, but there are things we have brought away with us and will definitely visit this lovely city again.

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