Resting on the eastern shores of Tasman Bay at the northern tip of the South Island is Nelson, the biggest fishing port in Australasia. Curved around a stunning natural harbor, the city lies at New Zealand’s geographical heart.

Nelson’s exquisite smorgasbord of seafood and shellfish, its mild year-round climate and its arresting alpine backdrop replete with glacial lakes and White Water Rivers, have generated a thriving tourism industry in recent years.

This modest city possesses an excellent primary, secondary and tertiary education system. The city’s major university campus at its Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) is one of the city’s growth engines, alongside its flourishing tourism, fisheries, agriculture and horticulture sectors. Flanked by three major national parks, the picturesque city spills onto white sandy beaches.

Renowned for its vibrant arts and crafts culture, the seaside town of Nelson serves up an eclectic array of boutiques, charming cafés, eateries and bars. When eating out, you’d be remiss not to order a regional wine or locally brewed ale; these are the perfect complement to the daily catch.

What is special or unique about your city?
Nelson is a great place to live and we think you'll love it! You can participate in just about any sport or leisure activity you can think of and probably more. Flowing through the urban areas, there is an extensive network of parks, walkways and cycle-ways for recreation and, of course, the region borders three awesome national parks. As a cultural center, we have the famed Montana World of Wearable Art Awards, a smorgasbord of festivals, the Suter Art Gallery, School of Music and the Nelson Provincial Museum. There is something for everyone!

What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Immediately apparent is the friendliness of Nelson’s residents, who have the reputation of being among the nicest on the South Island. Newcomers also can't help but enjoy the city's beautiful weather and scenery, which is regarded as some of the loveliest in the country.

Are these impressions likely to change?
Not likely. The relaxed lifestyle and great climate is contagious and most people that visit never want to leave. Most expatriates that have been lucky to experience Nelson report fond memories that last a lifetime.

What is the local language?
English is the official language of New Zealand, however, you will also hear Maori spoken, along with other languages from the South Pacific islands and Asia. The Nelson region had continuous occupation by early Maori from the Moa Hunting period of 700-800 years ago and it still does today.
Here are a few Maori words that may be fun to learn as well as help you while you are here:

English = Maori
hello = kia ora
good bye = haere ra
please = koa
thank you = kia ora rawa atu
good = ka pai
bad = ka kino
help = äwhinatia
yes = äe
no = käo
food = kai
water = wai

How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
It would be difficult to live in New Zealand without speaking English, as most New Zealanders only speak English or Maori. There is a wide variety of English language schools throughout New Zealand.

What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
The main thing to remember is to respect the many diverse cultures in New Zealand. To avoid offending, please take note of the following:

  • Casual dress is acceptable and usually preferred in most situations
  • Do not use the "V for victory" sign as it is considered offensive
  • Always try to be on time for appointments as punctuality is considered good manners
  • Afternoon tea is between 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Early evening tea is between 6:00 p.m. - 8:00
  • p.m., and a larger meal is served. Supper is a snack served much later in the evening
  • Tipping is uncommon
  • Cover your mouth if you must yawn, do not chew gum or use toothpicks and please do not spit in public.
  • Ask permission before you attempt to photograph someone
  • When meeting someone or departing, use a firm handshake and maintain good eye contact.
  • Avoid confusing or comparing New Zealand to Australia, as they are two distinct countries.
  • Remember that New Zealand has strict smoking rules, and smoking is not permitted in any public building or public transport
  • Smoking is not permitted in any bars, cafes or restaurants; smoking areas may be provided outside.

How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Typically, most expats love the climate so much they want to stay here forever. Protected by the mountains, Nelson is noted for having the greatest number of sunshine hours in New Zealand.
Located in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand's seasons are reverse to those in the Northern Hemisphere. Here, the warmest months are December, January and February and the coldest are June, July and August. Winter, in particular, is glorious in Nelson. Days start with a frost, but the sky is generally a beautiful vivid blue and the sun is shining.

Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
New Zealand has a high regard for its natural beauty and New Zealanders are extremely protective of the flora and fauna.