Chances are, you’ve heard of Emma Lewisham’s namesake beauty brand – revered for its clean and sustainable skincare – or seen its peppy purple packaging splashed all over Instagram. Here, the New Zealander shares her personal guide to Nelson Tasman, a breathtakingly beautiful region at the top of the South Island. “Nelson is my hometown so I know it intimately,” she says. “There’s so much to experience and do with lovely local boutiques, markets and art galleries, and amazing parks and beaches on its doorstep.” Travel here to experience all the best bits of New Zealand distilled into a single destination – lush landscapes, fine food and a culture hit – minus the crowds of the country’s more obvious tourist attractions. Plus, the town’s been dubbed Sunny Nelson for its covetable climate year-round. Sign us up!
The absolute must-do
Abel Tasman Coast
“Growing up, I enjoyed lots of summers exploring the Abel Tasman National Park. An invigorating thing to do in this area is the Abel Tasman Coast Track which is one of the Great Walks of New Zealand – it takes you through forests and along beaches. It’s wonderfully scenic and peaceful, a real slice of paradise.”
Ultimate beach day
“This is such a great beach for families! My parents would take myself and my three siblings here as children for summer days out with a picnic, and I now love doing the same with my own daughter. It’s a safe, sandy beach for children and there’s a pier which reaches out into the bay, popular for fishing.”
Best view of the city
“This is a great walk up Botanical Hill, near the Nelson city centre. It has beautiful views over Nelson and Tasman Bay.”
“Arguably offering one of the most beautiful vistas in Nelson, the Boat Shed Cafe is always on my list when I’m in town – you seriously can’t beat the outlook at sunset with the glistening water below. It’s the perfect spot for brunch, lunch or dinner (a must if you want to catch that sunset) and a delicious menu that features plenty of local seafood.”
350 Wakefield Quay, Nelson
“If you happen to be in town on a Saturday then a visit to the Nelson Market is a must. Known around the country for its fine local produce, homewares, florals and art, it showcases all that the Nelson region has to offer from some fantastic artisans.”
Montgomery Square, Nelson
Coffee & cake
“Set in a grand historical home surrounded by beautiful gardens lies the Melrose House Cafe. Lauded for its high tea and cake offerings, there’s also an impressive a la carte menu if you’re looking for a more substantial breakfast or lunch. My favourite dish is the haloumi salad with Isaraeli couscous, roasted beetroot, spinach and spiced chickpeas, always followed by one of their delicious sweet treats.”
Brougham Street, Nelson South, Nelson
“I love making time to dine at Hopgood’s & Co – it’s cosy, inviting and the staff make you feel like you’re at home. The ever-changing menu is kept deliberately short and is designed to be shared, so it’s a great spot to dine if you’re with a group. My current menu pick? Pāua dumplings radish, shiitake and kombu butter.”
284 Trafalgar Street, Nelson
“A visit to Nelson isn’t complete without stopping by Te Aratoi o Whakatū — the Suter Art Gallery. Having undergone an impressive renovation in 2016, this building seamlessly amalgamates late 1850s heritage architecture with modern design. And while you’re there, the cafe is well worth a visit to enjoy a coffee while admiring the riverside view.”
208 Bridge Street, Nelson
The fine print
How to get there
Fly into Christchurch then take a domestic flight to Nelson with Air New Zealand (alternatively, it’s a scenic five-hour drive from Christchurch).
When to go
“I absolutely love Nelson in the spring and summertime so you can make the most of beautiful walks and beaches,” says Lewisham. “I would recommend visiting over a weekend so you have the chance to experience the famed Nelson market.”
“Even though wandering around the charming city should be high on your agenda, hiring a car is absolutely essential so you can visit the national park and other city sights,” advises Lewisham.
What to pack
Easy everyday layers, walking shoes and beach gear. And given the famous sunny climate, don’t forget your Emma Lewisham Skin Shield sunscreen – it’s a cult favourite and the tube is made of 100 per cent post-consumer plastic.