Everyone knows you don't have to venture very far in New Zealand before stumbling across another beautiful part of its natural landscape. My weekend trip to Nelson last week was the breath of fresh air I so badly needed without even knowing it.
My visit coincided with the New Zealand Pipe Band Championships held in Nelson's Trafalgar Park and thus arriving on Saturday morning I was greeted with the sound of bagpipes and was spectator to a mass march down the main road. A rather grand and unexpected beginning to the weekend.
I had been awake since the early hours of the morning to catch my Jetstar flight so I naturally indulged in locally roasted coffee and a cooked breakfast at River Kitchen. Cafe culture appeared strong in Nelson which, as any New Zealander, I thoroughly appreciated. I would recommend taking to the city on foot to explore the cafes, art galleries and boutique stores.
I was lucky enough to spend a day sight seeing and exploring the Abel Tasman on a 10 tonne catamaran on Sunday. The adventure began when I was called in the early hours of the morning with a weather warning; the forecast predicted thunderstorms and heavy rain. However the only change to my plans was a raincoat and an extra pair of socks packed into my bag. I was off!
For New Zealanders who haven't seen the Abel Tasman with their own eyes I implore you to add it to your bucket list. The landmarks, wildlife, history and beauty made it a place I still find myself daydreaming about. With six hours of luxury to fill on the Abel Tasman Charter trip I sipped coffee in the cabin, kayaked at Bark Bay, jumped off the top of the boat into the waters of Te Pukatea and ate a delicious lunch.
It was all in a day's work and what made it so special was the freedom I felt I had on the day trip. Whether you like to swim on every beach you see or would rather stay dry onboard this scenic cruise meant that young and old alike could have a fun day. Well worth the time and money to see a part of New Zealand I doubt you could ever forget.
Split Apple Rock, Adele Island and Tonga Island were just some of the landmarks we stopped to admire, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention the penguins and sea lions we saw too. For those a little more interested in the art and culture of a city Nelson is brimming with destinations to visit.
The World of Wearable Art and Classic Cars (WOW) museum offers an experience like no other. The skill and work of designers from more than 40 countries is on display for the eyes to feast on, and those with an interest in cars and motors will have plenty to explore too. Museum admission does come at a cost but if you're in any way interested in art, clothing or both you are bound to take something away from the experience.
Having launched regional routes in 2015 Jetstar has made it it's mission to make travel more accessible and affordable for New Zealanders like myself. Flying into the Nelson region last weekend reminded me just how lucky we are to have such a beautiful backyard and with Jetstar now offering regional services between Auckland, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Wellington the chances are at your fingertips. I encourage you to take them.