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Nelson isn't short of beds, but if you're visiting over the December-to-January period, you'll be competing with thousands of New Zealanders who descend upon the area. Book early! There is a wide range of accommodations - including lots of smart B&Bs and excellent backpacker offerings - and with one or two exceptions, most are incredibly well priced. The rates given include 15% GST and free parking.

In Nelson

Rutherford Hotel Nelson, Trafalgar Square (www.heritagehotels.co.nz; tel. 0800/368-888 in NZ, or 03/548-2299), is a good, centrally located spot that always has good deals. Its 113 rooms are priced from NZ$205 to NZ$460. You'll also find seven B&B rooms in a large, character homestead behind the cathedral at Cathedral Inn, 369 Trafalgar St. (www.cathedralinn.co.nz; tel. 03/548-7369); they're priced from NZ$195 to NZ$310.

There are modest but comfortable self-contained and B&B rooms at Joya Villa & Garden Studios, 49 Brougham St. (www.joya.co.nz; tel. 03/539-1350); four rooms go for NZ$95 to NZ$185.

Backpacker Beds -- Nelson is blessed with quality accommodations at affordable prices - there are at least 10 backpacker establishments in the town. In addition to Paradiso , you'll find good value at Nelson City YHA, 59 Rutherford St. (www.yha.co.nz; tel. 03/545-9988); and the Green Monkey, 129 Milton St. (www.thegreenmonkey.co.nz; tel. 03/545-7421). Club Nelson, 18 Mount St. (www.nelsonbackpackers.co.nz; tel. 03/548-3466), is in a sunny, quiet street and a swimming pool is among its excellent facilities.

In Tahunanui-Richmond

Tahuna Beach Holiday Park, 70 Beach Rd., Tahunanui (www.tahunabeach.co.nz; tel. 0800/500-501 in NZ, or 03/548-5159), is the largest motor camp in New Zealand, accommodating several thousand travelers a night during the summer months. It has motel units, tourist and standard cabins, and tent sites - not to mention a fabulous atmosphere. Just make sure you book early because this is a favorite camp for New Zealanders. For a more contemporary stay, you'll have every comfort at hand at The Sands, 623 Rocks Rd., Tahunanui (www.thesandsnelson.co.nz; tel. 0800/635-766 in NZ, or 03/539-6030). Modern one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments overlook pretty Tahunanui Beach, just 5 minutes from central Nelson; from NZ$175.

In Motueka/Mapua

Motueka township itself doesn't contain an abundance of nice accommodations, but outlying areas have rich pickings for those wanting a peaceful country stay. Bronte Country Estate, Bronte Road East, near Mapua (tel. 03/540-2422; www.brontecountryestate.co.nz), is one such place, with two luxury suites (NZ$585) and three villas ranging from NZ$720 to NZ$1,230 (NZ$155 for each additional person). Private dinners cost NZ$200 per person.

A lovely discovery in this area is Neudorf Hall, 252 Neudorf Rd., Upper Moutere (www.neudorfhall.co.nz; tel. 03/543-2252), which is just a short stroll from nearby Neudorf Vineyard; two rooms are priced NZ$195 to NZ$315. Nautilus Lodge Motel, 67 High St., Motueka (www.nautiluslodge.co.nz; tel. 0800/628-845 in NZ, or 03/528-4658), is a good motel with simple rooms (NZ$115-NZ$225).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.