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Nelson's Top Museums & Historic Buildings

Nelson Provincial Museum, Trafalgar and Hardy streets (tel. 03/548-9588; www.nelsonmuseum.co.nz), relocated to its original 1842 site in 2005 and now the treasure-filled museum is welcoming in a new era of fascinating permanent displays and changing exhibitions. Look out for the fabulous silver collection, antique furniture, historical books, and Maori artifacts - not to mention the new stained-glass window featuring native birds and plants. Its research center in the former museum building in Isel Park, Stoke, houses one of the largest historical photographic collections in the country, and a comprehensive reference library on local history. The museum is open Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm (weekends and public holidays until 4:30pm); the Research Facility is open Tuesday through Saturday 12:30 to 4:30pm by appointment. Museum admission is by donation; the research facility is free. Some charges may apply to touring exhibitions.

In Stoke, a suburb of Nelson, you'll find the Broadgreen Historic House, 276 Nayland St. (tel. 03/547-0403; www.broadgreenhistorichouse.co.nz), a restored two-story cob house built in the mid-1850s. This New Zealand Tourism Award winner has 11 rooms furnished to faithfully represent a family home of the period. It's open daily from 10:30am to 4:30pm; call for winter hours. Admission is NZ$8 for adults and NZ$4 for children 14 and under.

In central Nelson, it's worth visiting the South Street Historic Precinct. Just off Nile Street West behind the Rutherford Hotel, this cute little street captures the feel of a past era. Sixteen working-class cottages built between 1863 and 1867 remain intact and are still inhabited. Nearby, on top of Church Hill, is Nelson Cathedral, 367 Trafalgar St. (tel. 03/548-1008; www.nelsoncathedral.org). It's open daily free of charge to visitors, in summer from 8am to 6pm and in winter from 8am to 5pm. Built of local Takaka marble, the cathedral is known for its striking stained glass, carved features, and unique free-standing organ. Car and fashion buffs - jointly or separately - will enjoy the World of Wearable Art & Classic Cars Museum, Cadillac Way, off Quarantine Road (tel. 03/547-4573; fax 03/547-0856; www.wowcars.co.nz), which presents about 100 collectible cars and motorbikes, as well as a stunning collection of over 600 past entries and winners of the internationally renowned World of Wearable Arts Awards. It's open daily from 10am to 5pm (closed Dec 25). Admission is NZ$22 for adults, NZ$8 for children ages 5 to 14; family discounts available. Also onsite are a shop, a cafe, and a gallery.

Across town, the Founder's Heritage Park, 87 Atawhai Dr. (tel. 03/548-2649; www.founderspark.co.nz), is a replica of a historic village containing many of the old buildings and artifacts of Nelson. Special attractions include Dr. Bush's Windmill, the Port Nelson Exhibition, vintage and horse-drawn vehicles, fire engines, and a working train. It's open daily from 10am to 4:30pm (closed Good Friday and Dec 25); admission is NZ$7 for adults and NZ$15 per family; children under 12 are free. Train rides run daily between December 26 and January 10, otherwise every Sunday. Look out for the very good cafe and an interesting organic brewery complex on-site, and they stage a farmers' market from 3 to 6pm on Friday evenings.

Last, but definitely not least, is the Suter Art Gallery, 208 Bridge St. (tel. 03/548-4699; www.thesuter.org.nz), the region's public art museum. The collection includes works by 19th-century New Zealand artists with strong Nelson ties, such as Gully, Lindauer, and Van der Velden. There's an excellent crafts shop and a bush-clad cafe overlooking Queens Gardens. Open daily 10:30am to 4:30pm (closed Good Friday, Dec 25, and Jan 1); admission is NZ$3 adults, NZ$1 for students and kids.

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.