Welcome to Sunny Nelson! Nelson is one of the older towns on the South Island, meaning it exudes more charm than all the modern, ticky-tacky buildings that pop up today in other cities. It’s got a good energy too. It’s no sleepy, dying town. Lots of artsy types, craftsmen, live music, and fabulous restaurants. And it sure doesn’t hurt that it is surrounded by hills, three national parks, the ocean, and 2,500 hours of sunshine per year! So c’mon and explore Nelson with us!

The town square. Like I said, it is a vibrant little town! This was some quirky Kiwi circus act we watched for a hot minute. We didn’t stay long, because I immediately ran away when they started looking around for audience members to participate in their act. I’ve never understood those people that volunteer to go stand in front of hundreds of onlookers gawking at them. I guess their nervous system is made of different stuff than mine. Clay says I (along with all my mom’s side of the family, haha, yep, all y’all) possess overactive nervous system antennae. He’s right. When we’re anxious, one can literally see the antennae perk up on high alert and our voices climb about ten octaves higher.
Peaking through the window into a pretty restaurant and watching the staff with their pre-dinner scurry. I always think of the song “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast. “Be. Our. Guest! Be our guest! Put our service to the test. Tie your napkin round your neck, cherie, and we’ll provide the rest. Soup du jour! Hot hors d’oeuvres! Why we only live to serve!”

As many good restaurants as there are in Nelson, it is the perfect place to gather your own bounty from the sea and whip up a seafood feast in the comfort of your own home. Locals wait for the tide to go out, and then they collect their mussels to cook for dinner. The ocean is abundant! I can’t get enough Green Lip Mussels and Bluff oysters. Eat them when you come visit!

The Boat Shed Cafe, just right outside of town. We enjoyed eating here one night. Dining on the water is always better than not dining on the water. Leon Bridges playing in the background made it extra special. However, I particularly loved the food from the restaurant across from here… The Harbour Light Bistro. It was the first time I have ever tried white gazpacho! Green grapes, cucumbers, lemon juice, toasted almonds, olive oil, etc… Oh my goodness, it was SO refreshing.
Probably needed a flash for this one, but the sunset sure is peaceful and wispy, eh? Something about that little island in the background and eating right there on the water really reminded me of Ono Island, where I grew up going to the beach. My wonderful grandparents built a house there when I was little and raised up all us cousins there. Thanks Mimi and Papa!
It’s The Lord of the Rings girl from the Interislander ferry! Remember her? It really is a small world, y’all. She reappeared in Nelson five days later to behold The One Ring from the movie trilogy. Have you noticed how Clay is really good at taking photos of strangers without them ever knowing? Sneaky sneaky!
That there is some expensive stuff! We saved our money. Not my style.
Historic cottage in Nelson. I heart tiny homes. Especially if they are white and yellow and have flowery window boxes.
Clay flew past this in the car one day, and I immediately screamed, “Stop! Stop! Go back! I want to go back and look at that cottage!” I named it Minerva’s Cottage. I have no clue who lives there, but I think it’s a she, and her name is Minerva. And she wears beautiful, flowing kaftans, and potters away happily in her colorful, tiny garden while chatting with her fat white cat. And she has an easel and paints funny self-portraits in her down time. And she has the best reading nook next to her fireplace. And she savors all of life.

I think we found Minerva! The beautiful, older woman.

Look! I think we found Minerva! The beautiful, older woman, sitting over there near the bar. That must be her.

She reminded us of Clay’s Granny Betty, who adored an evening out listening to music.
While we were listening to the lovely music, Clay noticed this photo in the restaurant’s menu. Mom, it’s your twin, Barbara Streisand! Pamcakes does NOT like that someone once told her she looks identical to Barbara Streisand, hahaha.
I had read about this museum in Lonely Planet and didn’t really have high expectations or anything… However, we were really surprised and truly enjoyed ourselves! Nothing opens the mind up more than taking in the workings of someone else’s imagination. Welcome to The World of Wearable Art!
Oh look, it’s the couple from my nightmares!
Forget tulle tutus. Give me a metal tutu!
Clay particularly loved this outfit. Dad (and all lovers of zip ties), this costume is made entirely of zip ties!
My personal favorite.
Clay’s home girl. A woman dressed in ethernet cables. And she has Madonna cone boobs to boot!
A peacock tail of ethernet cables.
I think Lady Gaga is under there.
Edward Scissorhands meets Pharoah meets Augustus Ceasar meets The Little Mermaid meets Marie Antoinette.
After our museum visit, I attempted to speak Clay’s love language by suggesting we go to the Nelson airport and watch the planes take off. I am not remotely interested in that sort of thing, but he loves planes (and describing them to me in greaaaaat detail). Nelson’s teeny weeny airport borders a golf course. This sign made us think of Clay’s dad, an avid golfer. Mr. Mo, how much are your balls worth?! $2,000 fine if you hop over the fence to rescue the ball you just shanked!

Never gets old for him.

Never gets old for him. You can tell I’m super impressed… Just moseying around the golf course.

The Cod and Lobster Brasserie. Pretty restaurant in the town square where we dined later that evening.
Mmm… Warm lighting and heart-warming food awaits. The seafood board we shared was truly divine… Smoked fish, mussels, oysters, fried blue cod, and huge, spicy shrimp (or prawns, as they call them down under.)
“Hold it right there Mr. Waiter… We are still working on that bread.”
“Does this bread plate look empty to you? We ordered corn chowder specifically to dunk the bread into it.” (This was a re-enactment after the waiter left. We are not actually rude to our waiters and waitresses, but sometimes we miss the best bread man ever: Israel at Chez Fonfon! He never takes our bread away early.)
On an afternoon walk, we stumbled upon Founders Park, where you can experience what it was like to live in Nelson during the 1800’s! Ummmm, question: Why can’t everything still look like this? I feel it is a fair question. Where is the charming design these days???
Mmmmm. Yes. White wooden chapel with a beautiful clock bell tower. And a windmill! Now we just throw up a gymnasium box and slap the word “church” on it. Now don’t get me wrong. I believe worship can happen anywhere and everywhere, but I think God is aight with us spending the time and a lil dough to create a pretty place to gather and worship him.
Can we have gas pumps like this again?
And trucks???
And romantic professions?
And buildings?
And front porches? Now this looks like the South, don’t cha think? All that’s missing is an icy sweet tea, a pimento cheese sandwich, and a slice of poundcake.
Love an old train station. All that’s missing here is the Whistle Stop Cafe.
Unfortunately, part of living in Nelson in the 1800’s was La Guillotine! “Noooooo!!! But I’m innocent!!!”
We hiked up to the Centre (Center) of New Zealand one day, the geographical center of the whole country!
Windy New Zealand being windy as ever!
Probably one of my favorite pictures ever. Just relaxin’, something I’m not good at. The way I “relax” is by immediately falling asleep when I sit down, especially if I sit down in the warm sun. I get it from you MacDaddy!
Refusing to move. “Molly, get up. Let’s go. We gotta hike back.” Me: “But whyyyyy? I’m so comfy and happy on this hollowed out log.”
The view of Nelson’s town/valley/harbor while on the hike back down.
I guess Gertrude can’t come to Nelson, Macmama. You’ve never been able to control any of your daughters, hahaha. Take that as a compliment. 🙂

I feel this sign is a bit absurd, personally. I jog by herds of sheep all the time. I “worry” them all the time. They scamper off even when I am a football field away, jogging at a grandma pace. The older I get, the more I get why God compares us humans to sheep. We are SO dumb, so close-minded, we live in fear and worry, we wander from the fold so easily, and we run like hell from the one thing trying to help us…the shepherd himself.

“Stop that train!!!!”
Because sometimes the warm sun, the mountains, and the ocean make you wanna shake it… Michael Franti style.