Last updated 7 December 2022
Nelson City is fortunate to have dozens of parks and reserves for relaxing, picnicking and recreation with many of these quite hidden away in residential areas. These complement the extensive trails in the reserve areas in the hills surrounding the city for both walking and mountain biking, and a well-developed cycle way that links the Maitai valley, Wakapuaka and City Centre to the Great Taste Trail. With its sunny temperate climate, it’s a place for the outdoors.
Nature is always on our doorstep as evidenced by the Brook Waimarama Native Bird Sanctuary set in 714 hectares of native forest in the Brook valley, Waterworks Reserve only 5 minutes’ drive from the City Centre.(see separate story).
Nelson is a city of trees. To further enhance the city, trees have been planted along all the key streets and every summer there are irrigated hanging baskets to brighten the streets of the CBD with flowers
In addition, Nelson has some wonderful public gardens including:
A classic Victorian ornamental park, on the edge of the Nelson CBD area and forms part of an historic place precinct including the The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatu which together with its sculpture walk provides a superb backdrop on the Western side of the site.
These intimate gardens include a diverse range of plants and trees set around waterways and the Eel Pond which historically was a food gathering place for Maori. It’s a restful place for people to sit and enjoy the park surroundings or to walk around the paths beside the gardens, water features and sculptures that are in the park.
A heritage woodland of mixed conifers planted in 1845-65 and extensive gardens featuring colourful displays of spring bulbs and golden hues as the leaves of deciduous trees change colour over autumn. There are also large expanses of lawn with gardens and woodlands that provide a wonderful setting for Isel House, the home of an early immigrant, Thomas Marsden.
Was a sister city development with the city of Miyazu in Japan and is a Japanese themed garden with ponds, rock gardens, cherry and other ornamental trees which also provides a tranquil place to sit, walk and enjoy.
The city has also been left 3 other notable historic houses with lovely gardens including gardens:
The Rotary Club of Nelson became an integral part of Nelson City’s landscaping story, with projects starting after the club’s establishment in1927 and continuing in earnest to the early 2000’s, though more recently that focus has spread out beyond Nelson into the Tasman region.
Members have planted over 11,000+ trees over time in cooperation with Nelson City Council. The focus has always been to identify gaps and opportunities to add to the work of the Council.
Projects have included.
Rotary also took an involvement in several of the parks and reserves including:
Christchurch Cathedral (Nelson) played an important part in Nelson becoming a city in 1858 when Queen Victoria made Nelson the seat of an Anglican Bishop despite a population at the time of only 5,000 citizens. The Cathedral has remained a prominent landmark sited on church hill with its bell tower at the North end of the hill overlooking Trafalgar Street, the main street of the city. The walking access from the city centre is up the Cawthron Steps ,a wide set of steps built out of Takaka Marble replacing an earlier wooden structure in 1911.The steps have been a gathering place for events since early colonial days.
Though used for a short time prior to being transferred to the Church of England as the site of a fort by the settlers, it had, prior to European settlement, also been recognized by Maori as a strategic site with a fortified pa located there.
From 1981 -1983 the Rotary club developed a scented walk on the eastern side of church hill.
This park was originally designated as the Trafalgar Street Cemetery but ceased being used as a cemetery in the late 1800’s.There are still a small number of gravestones in evidence in the tree line on the Trafalgar Street border.
Council later renamed it as Fairfield Park linking it to Fairfield House which is directly across Van Diemen Street on the south end of the park.
The Park is also opposite Melrose house which is on the east side of Trafalgar Street.
It was at Fairfield Park that the Rotary Club of Nelson planted the Camelia Garden in memory of Lady Newman, wife of Charter Member Sir Jack Newman, who also made a considerable contribution to the community. This project included the building of a small rotunda which provides a great setting for weddings.
The park is also used for outdoor summer festival events including as a venue for concerts, outdoor movies and other entertainment.
A significant number of projects have focused on Tahuna beach and the reserve area.
Since the year 1999, Nelson Rotary has continued with planting of trees though this has largely been in the Tasman Region including :
Protecting and enhancing our environment is becoming an increasingly important focus for Rotary, not just in New Zealand but Worldwide as we come to grips with the effects of climate change and sea level rise.