"I wanna hang a map of the world at my house. Then I wanna stick pins in the locations that I`ve traveled to.
...But first I have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won`t fall down."
-Mitch Hedberg

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Oh Nelson…what can I say about you? Robbery, apple picking, all you can eat pizza deals, freedom camping, the beach, the library – all of these things shaped our time in the principle city of the Nelson Region on the South Island.

Freedom camping is the only way to stay in Nelson for any extended period of time, and Care and I parked at our fair share of locations. The three that were the most effective were (in order of ease):
  1. The Kinzett Terrace carpark at the north end of town
  2. Tahunanui Beach on the west edge of town
  3. The carpark near the yacht club – surprising but true
The overall attitude of people in town towards freedom campers is begrudgingly accepting. Nelson is a focal point for trampers headed to the Abel Tasman National Park and the West Coast, as well as backpackers looking for fruit picking work, so they get that people are going to be loitering for a bit. The economy in the area depends heavily on tourist dollars and low-paid backpacker picking labor, so during the apple season the town sets aside a few areas where they turn a blind eye to campers – most notably Kinzett Terrace. We actually got a printed flyer from a security guard telling us it was ok to sleep there. But Tahunanui Beach has more amenities like water, cold showers, toilets, beach access, and a small library annex with free WiFi, so it's a better fit for a lot of short-term campers.

For long-term campers like us, pricey holiday park accommodation simply isn’t an option. So we did run into some hassles, and we had our car broken into at one point, but that was in the middle of the day and didn’t happen at any of the sites mentioned above. We saved a lot of money by staying in Nelson 16 nights over the course of a month, but we're still a bit undecided on whether it was worth all the effort. Freedom camping really makes you appreciate the simple luxuries of running water, sinks, and toilets inside a house.
Aside from all that, Nelson is great. The Information Site is helpful and well staffed, public bathrooms are everywhere, the movie theater has current films, a few bars in the area serve great brews and have WiFi, and there is free (but slow) WiFi at the central library. Care and I were at the library a lot – it’s where this blog was born - and we enjoyed our stay in town.

Drink and food deals exist at different places throughout the week, but our favorite spot was 623 Bar. On Wednesdays they have all you can eat pizza for $15. Done. Care and I actually went there for St. Patrick’s Day and scarfed ourselves into a coma on five different gourmet pizzas, including one deliciously rich banana chocolate dessert pizza. We waddled out of that place exhausted but proud.

It’s hard to sum up Nelson into one post, yet it’s not quite worthy of being split up into more. Should we have stayed as long as we did? No. Were parts of it really cool? Sure. Freedom camping, free WiFi, and pizza, pizza, pizza. Not a bad combo, but Care and I were happy to move on.

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