A Day Trip from Blenheim to Nelson

19th Mar 14

If you’re staying in Blenheim for a few days or more, you may wish to consider taking a daytrip to Nelson. There are few better ways to spend a day than meandering along a beautiful scenic road between Havelock and Nelson, two jewels in the crown of the South Island.

Uninterrupted, the drive from Blenheim to Nelson takes approximately an hour and a half by car, yet this can easily be turned into a day of fun, adventure or relaxation.

There are a raft of activities to break up driving time along picturesque State Highway 6, which traverses through valleys and winds alongside the Pelorus and Rai rivers.

With a road that looks like this, we’re sure you’ll enjoy travelling along it.

Start Your Day off in Havelock

Take State Highway 6 west out of Blenheim, where it will cross the Wairau River and head north toward the top of the South Island. About 30 minutes later, you’ll arrive in the small town of Havelock, at the head of Pelorus Sound and the beginning of the Pelorus River. This quaint village is a close-knit community and the Greenshell Mussel capital of the world.

You could spend a few minutes or a few hours in this charming town. Here are some of our favourite activities:

  • A sea kayak adventure. If you’re looking for adventure, hire a sea kayak from just $40 and explore the Pelorus Sounds. You’ll be provided with all necessary safety gear and timely knowledge of the sea conditions and the best destinations.
  • Take a cruise. If boats are more your cup of tea then there are many options to choose from – take a water taxi for a sight-seeing and walking tour or take a cruise or a boat charter on the Foxy Lady. Choose to relax, take photos, search for birds or dolphins, or cast out a line for mussels or fish.
  • Stop for lunch. We expect you’ll be hungry after spending time on the water. Why not stop in at The Mussel Pot? This restaurant is famous for serving up the mussels the region is best known for, which are sourced locally and served at an affordable price. It’s no surprise this is a popular restaurant, so we suggest booking early. Our friendly reception staff at Hotel d’Urville can make a reservation for you.

Havelock is also home to the Havelock Mussel Festival – a yearly event held in March. If you missed it last month, be sure to check it out next year.

People swimming with dolphins

Spend the Afternoon in Nelson

After your morning in Havelock, you’ll follow the Pelorus River on State Highway 6. You’ll cross the Pelorus Bridge and soon be following the Rai River as you head into the city of Nelson.

This beautiful region is renowned for having a vibrant arts culture and is home to a variety of art galleries and festivals, such as the Nelson Arts Festival and the Art Expo Nelson.

  • Appreciate art. Amongst others, the Marilyn Andrews gallery and the Bellamy gallery reside on 221 and 125 Brooks Street, respectively. Visit the NelsonNZ website for a full list of regional art and craft galleries.
  • Go shopping. If you fancy a bit of retail therapy there are a number of specialty shops around Nelson. Check out the World of Wearable Art and Classic Cars Retail Shop on Cadillac Way, and if you arrive on a Saturday, don’t miss the Nelson Markets at Montgomery Square carpark.
  • Get crafty. Want to make something yourself? Pottering About offers classes and activities where you can choose and paint your own piece of ceramic pottery, then enjoy a bite to eat in their café. Find them at 38 Buxton Square.
  • Will you be in Nelson in July? Don’t miss the Art Expo Nelson from the 11th to the 13th of July in Saxton Stadium, showcasing over 2000 pieces of artwork.

It’s up to you how you wish to end your day trip in Nelson. Choose from an adventure or a quiet activity for you and your friends/family to enjoy:

  • Saddle up. The adventurous types may choose a horse trek through the untamed Nelson back country or along the beach during sunset. Happy Valley Adventures are a popular option and are located just 15 minutes from Nelson at 194 Cable Bay Road.
  • Reach for the stars. Want to get active? Conquer fears or push yourself at Vertical Limits, Nelson’s indoor climbing centre- open seven days a week. All gear is provided or bring your own for cheaper entry. Find them at 34 Vanguard Street, Nelson.
  • Chill out. For those who wish to relax, visit any of Nelson’s day spas, we recommend Sabi Sabi Thai Massage Therapy on 7a Tahunainui Drive in Nelson.

Horse trek around Nelson

Want to take another day trip? Try one to Picton – check out our blog post on the best way to spend a day in Picton!


Photo credits:

A view of State Highway 6, Google maps

Smiles from Jaime and Cici by jennacatpink, CC-BY-2.0

Around the lake by Tim Lucas, CC-BY-2.0


Filed under Local Attractions

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