Nelson

Sunny Nelson is often hailed as one of New Zealand's most 'liveable' cities. This shouldn't take anyone by surprise - Nelson is surrounded by mountains, the Tasman Bay and three diverse national parks. Very few places in the world offer mountains, golden sand beaches with crystal clear waters and remote bush within such a short distance.

Not only is Nelson an outdoor playground, but the town itself is a bright, optimistic and worldly place. The streets are dotted with beautiful Victorian era houses, fantastic restaurants and quaint cafes. The cafe culture in Nelson is unsurpassed by few and it seems art galleries and artists' studios are popping up daily. Creative New Zealanders and those from abroad flock here to work with glass, wood, paper, paint and any other sort of artistic medium you could imagine.

Local produce is a staple in Nelson's variety of restaurants and cafes. And don't forget the wine - wineries are scattered throughout the region as are boutique breweries.

Beyond the urban fringe of the town, the three national parks on Nelson's doorstep offer some fantastic tramping and mountain biking opportunities. Nelson is a great place to base yourself before setting off on the (newly opened to mountain bikers) Heaphy Track.