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Nelson, New ZealandNelson History

Nelson | Regional Information | Activity Highlights | Scenic Highlights | History

Come to Nelson, New Zealand and gain an interesting insight into Nelson's past pioneers and the people and places that make Nelson so unique today.

Nelson History Overview

Image Soure: Tourism New Zealand. Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, New Zealand
Abel Tasman National Park
Nelson, New Zealand
Photographer: Gareth Eyres
(www.exposure.co.nz)

The Nelson area is known by the Maori as 'Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Maui' or 'the tip of the nose of the canoe of Maui'. Maori legend tells a tale of the demi-god Maui using his magic fish hook to catch and land the North Island 'Te Ika a Maui' or 'the fish of Maui' from his waka (canoe) the South Island.

The Maori first settled the Nelson region, and later the New Zealand Company organised settlement of the land by European immigrants.

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Early History

The Nelson and Marlborough regions are among the earlier regions of New Zealand to be settled by the Maori. However raids from tribes from the north in the 1820s displaced many of them.

After Captain Cooks discovery of New Zealand, the New Zealand Company began buying land from the Maori. In the early 1840s they arranged purchase of as much arable land in the Nelson region as possible from the Maori and began bringing in European immigrants by ships to settle the land.

As with many regions of New Zealand, early settlement was difficult due to lack of land and disputes between the resident Maori and the arriving settlers.

Farewell Spit

Image Soure: Tourism New Zealand. Awaroa Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, New Zealand
Awaroa Bay
Abel Tasman National Park
Nelson, New Zealand
Photographer: Gareth Eyres
(www.exposure.co.nz)

Situated at the extreme northern tip of the South Island, Farewell Spit stretches more than 30 kilometres into the Tasman Sea and is an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Maori name for the spit is 'Onetahua', meaning 'heaped up sand'.

Farewell Spit has been a bird sanctuary since the 1930s and provides a home for over 90 bird species. Bar tailed godwits, knots, curlews, whimbrels and turnstones fly around 12,000 kilometres every northern hemisphere autumn to spend the summer here in the south. The spit also has a gannet colony.

To guide passing ships, Farewell Spit's first lighthouse was built in 1869. In the early years the lighthouse site had no vegetation and windblown sand was an ongoing problem for the keepers. Then one clever keeper organised for small loads of soil to be delivered with the mail. He planted a windbreak of macrocarpa pines which are still there to this day. The pines protect the station from the shifting sands and provide a daylight landmark for passing ships.

The best way to experience the spit is on a 4WD safari. You'll find tour operators in nearby Collingwood.

Kahurangi National Park

Kahurangi is a geologically complex area, and that's one of the reasons it was made a national park. Much of its rock is sedimentary, originally laid down in an ancient sea, then uplifted and scoured by glaciers. Other parts of the region are limestone or marble—there's an abundance of caves, bluffs, natural arches, sinkholes and water-worn outcrops.

New Zealand's oldest fossil (540 million years old) was found in the park. Maori lived here from the 14th century, and the coast was used as road by those seeking pounamu (greenstone).

» Kahurangi National Park Information

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Nelson Region Information


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Featured

 
Mainstay New Zealand Hotels

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Large collection of independent hotels.

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels

Holiday packages for any occasion.

Distinction Hotels

Distinction Hotels

Great hotels in great NZ wide locations.