With 2,500 hours of sunshine per year, Nelson has acquired a reputation as a reliable holiday destination. Enjoying one of the best climates in New Zealand, the city named after Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson boasts long warm summers and mild winters, primarily as a result of the sheltered nature of surrounding mountains.
But the real secret of Nelson lies in its location off the beaten path. With slightly more than 66,000 residents, the Nelson urban area feels rather idle as the cityscape blends into the countryside. The lifestyle is the envy of many and it has become a popular place to retire. Meanwhile, Nelson has a thriving economy from the local forestry and fishing industries. And, its flourishing arts and crafts’ scene adds vibrant character to the city.
Tourists can also relax at local beaches, visit one of the region’s many wineries or spend a Saturday morning in the city centre at a farmers’ market where they can sample all the amazing local produce.
The annual Nelson Festival of Golf is a perfect opportunity to enjoy the best the Tasman region has to offer. Held from 30 April-4 May, this amateur tournament allows participants to savour the autumn colours and temperate climate while playing three very nice club courses.
The Festival encompasses four rounds of golf: two rounds at Nelson Golf Club, one round at Greenacres Golf Club and one round at Motueka Golf Club. These three courses will be in excellent shape in mid-autumn and ready to host golfers from around New Zealand with international players travelling from Australia and beyond.
Nelson Golf Club is located next to the airport and it’s not uncommon for golfers to take a moment and admire incoming planes as they fly into land. The 6,200m links-style course is a superb test that provides sweeping views across Tasman Bay. During summer months, visiting golfers are warned to expect stiff coastal breezes.
While not long, Nelson’s strategically placed bunkers, mounding and rough make the 18-hole experience a thorough examination. The par-71 layout has a very good record of hosting national events, including the 2014 New Zealand Amateur Championship.
The starting holes are quite challenging before a lovely sequence that includes the signature par-3 sixth and tough par-4 seventh with its elevated green. The back nine provides a stern test of shotmaking and putting skills. Little wonder it’s a favourite of top players in the region.
Located 15 minutes away on Best Island on the outskirts of Richmond, Greenacres Golf Club is considered to be the second-best course in the region. Greenacres borders a tidal inlet with water coming into play on several holes. The inland holes are rather tree-lined whereas the coastal holes enjoy water views and a linksy feel.
The layout is more than 6,300m off the championship tees but doesn’t seem to play that long due to the flat terrain. Tight driving areas and raised greens pose a constant threat, but scoring opportunities come on the back nine with a trio of par 5s. A spacious clubhouse has magnificent views across the course and estuary.
Motueka Golf Club is a tight, tree-lined layout renowned for being in wonderful condition and an abundance of bird life. It asks longer hitters to throttle back and play for position and there are some smaller greens that call for precision iron shots. The course is extremely popular with golfers of all handicaps but those with a slice tend to struggle as quite a few holes have out-of-bounds down the right side.
With a par of 72 and measuring 5,965m, Motueka bares its teeth over the last four holes, which have been known to ruin many a scorecard. A very welcoming and comfortable clubhouse with good service makes it a terrific spot to unwind and review the round before making the 30-minute trek around Tasman Bay back into the city.
Away from the course, Nelson has fine cafés and restaurants. The Christ Church and Anglican cathedral in upper Trafalgar Street are the city’s central landmarks. Below the steps you’ll find more good places to dine and shop. On the way to Tahuna Beach are some waterfront cafés and restaurants with stunning views.
Whether it’s climate, views, attractions, food and wine or enjoying four days of golf at the Festival of Golf, Nelson and the surrounding Tasman region is an amazing golfing destination.
Where To Stay
Greens Motel is nestled amongst the trees at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, just a short walk from Nelson Golf Club. Adjacent to the district airport and picturesque waters of Tasman Bay, Greens Motel is a perfect location to start your Great Taste Trail tour. It’s also close to Tahunanui beach fun park and five minutes away from the World Of WearableArt & Classic Cars Museum.
Greens Motel offers studio, one and two-bedroom units.