Nelson’s Trafalgar – No Column, all Charm
There’s something to be said about travelling light when flying to Nelson. Leaving the driver’s licence behind ranks as the No. 1 numbskull moment – given a rental car was waiting. Adding to the woes was a motel booking at Collingwood – some 130 kilometres away in Golden Bay.
Determined not to let this sense of major mishap ruin my trip – the aim being to tour Farewell Spit – resourcefulness required plan ‘ B’. Given a resounding ‘no’ from the rental company without a current licence, the next step was to visit AA. Membership should have its advantages one would think! Not without proof of identity, as it turns out. Apparently, the AA card – bearing name and membership – doesn’t count! Neither did any other card in my wallet. Not even the Super Gold Card. I have government RealMe as proof of identity. AA doesn’t use RealMe! You may be happy to learn however, they will accept a firearms’ licence. Naturally, every red-blooded woman of superannuation age should hold one of those!
Exhausting every possible plea with AA and NZ Transport for a temporary licence; alternative transport was the only option. How fortunate that a bus runs daily from Nelson to Collingwood – $92 return, complete with airport drop-off. Thanks Mr airport shuttle for the tip.
With several hours to kill, what else to do but park the luggage at the bus station, soak up Nelson’s sunshine and roam the streets. Nelson’s heart is a true treasure trove. Deserving its usual claim to New Zealand’s sunniest city, and the district named recently in the country’s top three for economic growth, Nelson exemplifies the kiwi spirit for innovation, creativity and fun.
As a central thoroughfare, Trafalgar Street is an eclectic mix of history, pioneering attitude and artisan ingenuity. Graced with trees and flower baskets, it’s the city’s centrepiece – at its head, the towering Nelson Cathedral. As guardian of this dominant site on Church Hill or Piki Mai, services date back to 1842. With the building changing form and size over the years, the cathedral’s history is rich. It’s an iconic landmark and the steps up to the cathedral and gardens lure visitors and locals alike.
It’s easy to while away time in Trafalgar Street. There’s the city museum to discover Nelson’s beginnings and forebears. Anyone lucky enough to tinkle the ivories can
stop and play on the kaleidoscope piano outside. Memorials paying tribute to city fathers add character. Unique cafes, brasseries and clubs are dotted amid the shops. Then there’re the colourful carts. Standing on almost every corner along Trafalgar Street, these enterprising cottage businesses trade everything from coffee and muffins to sushi and dumplings, jewellery and handcrafts. Twenty five years ago there was a mere handful. Today, these quaint attractions exceed 60.
Further afield, the city holds numerous attractions that make Nelson so distinctive. The Founders Heritage Park, which celebrates Nelson’s brewing history; Tahunanui Beach Reserve; gardens – including Queens, Huangshi Chinese and Miyazu – Miyazu being Nelson’s Japan sister city. No visit to Nelson should leave out the national world of wearable art (WOW) and classic car gallery either. Unless you don’t have a driver’s licence! Forced to hang around Trafalgar Street for a day waiting for the bus to Collingwood – in truth, it’s not a bad place to be. Even if it was plan ‘B’.
It simply means a return flight to Nelson is on the to-do list. To do the planned things I didn’t do – driver’s licence strapped to my hand. Possibly a firearms’ licence as well – just to be on the safe side.