Visitor numbers to Nelson have increased hugely over the past couple of years. The number of restaurants and cafes in Nelson City have grown according and we now have a great choice of eateries. Here are a few of my favourites.
If you book a table upstairs at the Harbourlight Bistro, you’ll get the most gorgeous harbour views at whatever table you’re seated.
The wait staff are friendly and eager to please. I’m impressed by the chef’s skill with flavours. Make sure you order the Harbourlight’s legendary Key Lime Pie. It’s to die for!
Pomeroys is not a restaurant, but an intimate and relaxing little coffee place in Montgomery Square. Plenty of sweet morsels on offer to have with your coffee to keep you going til dinner.
Inside, there’s a treasure trove of goodies and interesting gift ideas. With blues music playing in the background and the smell of coffee and chicory in the air, its a perfect place to relax.
At first glance, the prices at Babbagatto may seem rather low, but the mains are very small. The idea is to go through the whole menu, which is similar to a degustation experience. Italian owned and operated, the staff make you feel at home.
The River Kitchen is a spacious lunch cafe with a great vibe. Home-baked cabinet food plus a full menu, make this restaurant a popular option. There’s great outdoor seating with close-up views of the Mitai River.
The newly re-built Suter Gallery is a pleasure to walk through and the cafe now has a much better layout. Very modern seating inside with wall to ceiling windows. Sit outside to enjoy the views over Queens Garden.
As the name would suggest, The Cod & Lobster Brasserie specialises in seafood. Located just down from the Nelson Cathedral in Trafalgar Street, they’re opened for both lunch and dinner.
Although Nelson focuses a lot on casual dining, you wouldn’t be out of place putting on the bling at Hopgoods & Co. The standard of service is definitely not casual, nor is the food which consistently features in New Zealand’s premium Cuisine Food awards. Hopgood’s & Co have recently extended their restaurant to include a bar and tapas section.
There are some good Asian and Indian restaurants in central nelson and for something really casual, authentic Pizzerias. Eat well dear travellers!
The Waitomo Caves tour options are located in the central North Island, 3 hours south of Auckland and 2 hours west of Rotorua. To save time, its best to travel ex Auckland via Waitomo to Rotorua.
A lot of international travellers choose the 45 minute guided Waitomo Glowworm Caves tour. Although the groups are larger, its the ideal ‘taster’. (The ‘Aranui’ cave can be added to this tour as a combo option.)
A major highlight is seeing the unique Glowworms (Arachnocampa luminosa) Thousands of these tiny creatures radiate luminescent light to create a starlit galaxy. Guides provide an informative commentary and a Boat Ride is included. Mother Nature’s light display surrounds the boat as it glides silently along, creating a sense of serenity you’ll never forget.
The 2-hour Ruakuri Cave tour is totally different to the Classic Waitomo Caves tour options. With a maximum of 18 people, there’s greater interaction with the guide. The Ruakuri Caves has full wheelchair and pushchair access. This cave offers a blend of Waitomo’s subterranean highlights including a spectacular spiral entrance, limestone formations and crystal tapestries. You’ll also get up close to the glowworms.
Ruakuri Cave is New Zealand’s longest guided underground walking tour and an experience that must be seen to be believed. Visitors are awed by the sheer majesty of nature.
This is the original Waitomo subterranean adventure and was introduced in the mid-1980’s by dedicated local cavers as “Black Water Rafting”. There are now a number of tour options with two different companies. Waitomo Discoveries (with the ‘Black Labyrinth‘ trip) and Waitomo Adventures (with the ‘TumuTumu‘ tour).
Both trips take around 3 hours. Neopren wetsuits and helmets are provided. Be warned, you will get wet! The journey ends when you emerge into the sunlight of the Waitomo forest.
This caving tour is perfect for travellers seeking more of an ‘expedition’. It can be done as a 4 hour or 7 hour trip. It is not suitable if you have a fear of heights! For the 7 hour Lost World trip, you’ll need to stay in the area at least overnight. Here are some accommodation options.
This region is a real ‘treasure box’ full of goodies. Forest Walks and hikes, Lord of the Rings, Hobbiton and surfing at Raglan, are all very close by. So consider staying 2-3 nights to really experience the Waitomo Caves region in-depth. What to do in Waitomo.